Tin Ornaments

Make these Mexican-inspired foil figures to decorate your Christmas tree and tag holiday gifts.


In Mexican churches, worshippers pin tin figures called milagros (miracles) to the robes of plaster saints as a wish for divine intercession. We've adapted the idea, using heavy-gauge aluminum tooling foil (available at craft stores) to make a variety of decorations. The tin cuts easily with scissors; use a sharpened stick (such as a wooden skewer) to emboss simple designs.

Ornaments & Gift Tags
Tin tags will make your Christmas gifts sparkle.

Cut tin into a variety of shapes, use a paper punch to make a hole at one edge, and then draw in the details. For gift tags, leave the center blank for the gift recipient's name, and add that when you decide which special person to give it to! Our designs include a fish, dove, and a variety of star patterns.

Download the free pattern and instructions for this project. (Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software.)

Ornament/Tag patterns and instructions

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Angel Tree Topper
Top your tree with this beautiful creature.

Top your tree with this shiny angel, and you're sure to make even the humblest fir look grand. The tooling foil is flexible enough to be easy to work with, but sturdy enough that this tree topper will last for years.

Download the free pattern and instructions for this project. (Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software.) Note: If the instructions do not appear when you download the pattern, a text-only version of this project appears at the bottom of the next page.

Angel Tree Topper pattern and instructions

Download Adobe Acrobat

Shown in copper, these candleholders are just as easy to make from tin.

Pineapples are a traditional symbol of hospitality and prosperity, so a pair of these candleholders would make a great hostess gift.

Once you cut out the shape, use a can opener to make the triangular designs on the two pineapple shapes. Then fold the two pineapple shapes up, leaving a flat base between them. Place a votive candle, in a holder, on the base.

Download the free pattern for this project. (Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software.)

Pineapple Candleholder pattern

Download Adobe Acrobat

Star Wreath
Make a holiday wish upon this bright star.

The Christmas star led the shepherds and Wise Men to Bethlehem. Unlike traditional circle wreaths, this one consists of just one 18-inch star, made from several pieces of tin joined together. Hung on a door with a garland of greens, this handmade decoration is a lovely way to welcome guests into your home.

Download the free pattern and instructions for this project. (Downloading requires Adobe Acrobat software.)

Star Wreath pattern and instructions

Download Adobe Acrobat

  • For a matte finish, lightly brush the aluminum foil with steel wool.
  • After you print the patterns, transfer them to tissue paper. The thin outside lines are cutting lines. The heavier inside lines are foiling (embossing) lines.
  • Cut some craft sticks to a point, others to a flat end, and leave the others curved. These and the skewer will be the tooling sticks used to make the designs. Match the tooling sticks to the type of lines: skewers for narrow lines, flat craft sticks for broad lines, curved craft sticks for wider curved lines, and so forth.
  • Place the tin on a pad of newspapers and lightly trace all pattern lines onto tin with a skewer. To keep lines even, use a ruler for straight lines; trace around lids or plates for circles. The pressure of the skewer will indent the foil, leaving the pattern.
  • Use the tooling sticks to enhance the design lines on the foil. Work from back side for raised lines and front side for indented lines. For interest, combine both raised and indented lines on each piece.
  • When tooling is finished, cut out your design using either straight or decorative-edge scissors.
  • Use a paper punch to make a hole for hanging ornaments and gift tags.
Angel Tree Topper Instructions:

1. Trace, emboss, and cut out angel as described in the General Foiling Instructions. Outline all areas first. Such large sections as the arms, hands, face, and horn can be completely embossed from the back with the appropriate tool so they are solidly raised.

2. Glue dowel down the center of the back of angel. When glue dries, use the needle to carefully make three pairs of holes for wiring the angel to the dowel. Space the holes evenly down he angel so each hole falls just to one side of the dowel. Try to arrange the holes so the wire will fall along a design line, such as the top of the head, the bottom of the horn, and the border of the skirt.

3. Run wire across the front and through the holes to back. Twist it tightly around the dowel, but not so tightly that it distorts the foil. At the bottom two loops, leave long tails of wire to wire the angel to the tree top.

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