walnuts for Christmas

walnut Christmas ornament craft for kids

My kids always beg for nuts in their shells this time of year.  The bulk bins at the grocery store are very enticing for them.  This year we bought walnuts.  I love the idea of eating the nut, and then making something with the lovely shell.  It just makes sense not to waste them.  We made a big mess of our kitchen cracking the nuts, painting them, and the reassembling them with a bit of knotted twine inside.


Cover the table with a cloth and then newspaper for painting
Brace yourself for a mess
Use a butter knife to gently split the shells, not a nutcracker
Keep halves grouped together so that they match up when it’s time to glue them-we used muffin pans to organize them
Know that you may end up doing most of the final assembly as your kids will have already had their fun splitting the nuts and painting them
White glue works just fine for glueing them together
If you are hoping only to have traditional golden walnut ornaments as I was, don’t let your kids see the other colors of metallic paint.
If you do end up being the one doing all the assembly work, of course you don’t have to assemble the ones that aren’t gold.  I didn’t!

You can find more Christmas crafts for kids in this post!


  1. Chris Ignasiak says:

    You might want to try making walnut wishes. For years our family would make ornaments like yours each year but we would add a wish for the coming year, written on a slip of paper and put inside the walnut much like a Chinese fortune cookie. The next year we would open them to see what we had wished and whether it had come true, when we decorated the tree. We would also make new walnut wishes for the next year.

    Chris in Cleveland

    PS – I have a walnut ornament on my tree that I made when I was in nursery school – over 50 years ago!

  2. I love that we were talking to each other while you made these! I feel like I was part of the project! Maybe next year I will actually DO some of these projects….

  3. Adorable craft! Pinned it to save it for future years at our house.

  4. Great idea! Simple and natural. Gold would definitely be my choice too… I’ll keep the idea in mind, and I might do some of these next year. Merry Christmas to you and your family!

  5. Way back when, my mom made these, but I do not remember helping. I do remember glitter though!! Lovely idea 🙂

  6. HaHa – that happened with me and metallic markers – she found all the colors. My plan for a fall colored banner quickly turned into teal metallic:)
    Great idea.
    I was wondering how much money was raised for the Denardo family and how they are coping.

  7. you always have the greatest ideas!!! i’ll be doing these with the grands (but maybe not THIS year!!!) blessings this holiday, Ginny.

  8. Really cool, Ginny.

  9. Lovely!! We always had nuts around the house at Christmas time when I was a kid. I remember one Christmas working with my older cousin to split one perfectly so he could put an engagement ring in it and give it to his girlfriend…memories 🙂

    Happy Holidays!

  10. those are great!

  11. too cute!!! I haven’t words!!!
    well done great team!!!

  12. The other colors are pretty, too – a great idea.

  13. beautiful!

  14. How neat! I’ve never heard of doing things with the shells before; thank you for sharing. Are these ornaments?

  15. So pretty. I like the colorful ones too!

  16. Erin Grover says:

    My mom has put a golden walnut in our stockings for over 20 years. We always read the story “I saw three ships” by Elizabeth Goudge. Still love it. The little girl in the story has a golden walnut on her wish list.

  17. When my husband was little he used half the shell and glued a tiny plastic baby in it and a to y square of fabric on top to make a baby Jesus ornament. We did the same when our oldest was in kindergarten. They turn out so cute!

  18. What a sweet idea! I can only get half of my kids to eat nuts, so shells seems like a waste. It wouldn’t be with this project though!

  19. These look great, I remember making boats with them as a child and floating them in the bath.

  20. What a great idea, the finished result is wonderful.
    Thanks for sharing this, and for the butter knife tip!!(before reading this through I was wondering just how you managed to break the shells so carefully).
    We always have lots of walnuts here as my husbands uncle is from Grenoble, which is like the nut capital of France. Saw a great tutorial over at plainandjoyfulliving.blogspot.com for maple nuts; I think we will be having a completely ‘nutty’ afternoon.

  21. Lovely. My oldest boy wanted to make conkers (?)… I had not heard of them, but we bought a bag of nuts and he was transforming chestnuts into a game… my little one enjoyed smashing walnuts on my freshly vacuumed floor! Gorgeous boys!

    • Conkers are the fruits of the horse chestnut tree. The fruit is in a big, green, slightly spiked case they are not edible. Loads of kids collect them to play ‘conkers’ in the autumn in the uk.

  22. My mom’s Godmother used to make something similar. But she painted the walnuts to look like strawberries (red with little black seeds). She added a felt leaf on top. She would hang them on the tree but also displayed them in the summer. I loved them.

  23. Love these, we will be doing this sometime soon 🙂

  24. What a cool idea!

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