During most of the 20th century, when Russia was controlled by the Soviet Union, religious celebrations such as Christmas were banned. This didn’t stop the faithful from disguising the celebrations. In place of a Christmas tree, Russians began the custom of putting up a brightly decorated New Year's tree. Rather than religious imagery, the ornaments were usually patriotic or inspired by Russian art and folklore. A typical tree might feature stars, little dolls or decorations resembling Russia’s famous Faberge eggs. Since Russian ornaments were expensive and hard to find, most families made their own. Christmas in Russia is celebrated on Jan. 7.
Trace star shapes on scrap cardboard using a star-shaped template, sizing the ornaments as desired. Cut out the stars.
Cover the stars in paper or foil if desired. Decorate the stars with markers, glitter glue or craft gems.
Paint a chopstick or thin dowel with acrylic paints. Allow it to dry and glue the star to the end of the stick.
Tie some thin ribbons, about 6 inches in length, to the stick just beneath the star so they hang down. Decorate the tree with your stars by poking the sticks into the bushy branches.
Paper Matryoshka Doll
Cut a pear-shaped piece of card stock, about 4 inches in height. Use a bright color as the base color.
Cut a small circle on peach or off-white card stock, small enough to fit inside the upper part of the pear shape. Draw a face on it and affix it with a glue stick.
Use paper punched designs or stickers to decorate the body below the kerchief with flowers, stars, leafs or other colorful shapes. Tape a loop of ribbon to the back of the decoration for hanging.
Faberge Egg Ornaments
Collect some old plastic Easter eggs and drill a small hole on the top pointed part of each egg.
Fold a 4- or 5-inch strip of thin ribbon or yarn in half and slip the ends into the hole so they are on the inside of the egg. Tie a knot and add a dab of hot glue to secure the ends inside. This will give you a loop coming out of the top of the egg to hang your ornament.
Squeeze some glue around the edges of the opening and close the egg shut permanently. Spray the eggs with a plastic paint primer, which allows paint to adhere to plastic items. Allow them to dry.
Use brightly colored acrylic paints to paint little scenes on the egg such as portraits of Grandfather Frost or the Snowmaiden from winter folk tales or just paint pretty designs. Allow the paint to dry.
Give the egg some sparkle by adding glitter glue outlines, or use tack glue to apply some gem stones. Allow it to dry. Spray the egg with clear acrylic sealer to protect the design and give it a luster.
Check out some books on Russian art and folklore to get ideas on how to design your ornaments.