beach ornament

Seashell & Sand Ornament

I have always liked to collect seashells and a little bit of sand from every beach that I’ve been (and now my daughter brings home even more things from the beach than I ever did), and a few years ago I had the idea to make an ornament for the Christmas tree with some of the shells and sand we’ve collected. It came out really pretty, so I started offering it in my ornament shop (I call it “Serenity“).

I do still sell the ornament (sorry, guys, not any longer….. too many of them were breaking in shipping), but I wanted to share a DIY for it anyway, because if your kids are anything like mine and end up bringing home tons of shells, this is a super cute way to use them. Not to mention it is an awesome memento from a trip or vacation that the family can see every year. (You could even paint the year on the outside to personalize it even more.)

Oh, and by the way…if you DON’T have your own shells to use but want to make this ornament…I found a great website to buy miniature seashells (when I started selling my Serenity ornament, I quickly realized I had to find an additional source for shells). All of her shells are handpicked, and they are always gorgeous and in perfect condition when they arrive in the mail, even the tiniest sand dollars (she packages them really well).

mini seashells

So for the ornament, all you need is some tiny seashells, beach sand, a clear glass ornament (or plastic if you prefer), some white glitter (optional), clear craft glue (my favorite as always is Beacon’s 3-in-1 Craft Glue), and any other embellishments you’d like.

clear glass ornaments

Make sure you start with a clean ornament…swish a little bit of rubbing alcohol around the inside, and then dump it out and let it dry completely. Add a little bit of sand…you don’t want to add too much though, or the ornament will be too heavy for the Christmas tree branch, and also the shells will constantly get buried in it. I imagine that a funnel would really make this adding the sand part easier, but I don’t happen to own one, and I never remember to grab one while I’m at the store..

fill glass ornament with beach sand

I also like to add a little bit of glitter to the sand (I use Martha Stewart coarse crystal glitter …I love the added sparkle, and it makes it look a little more festive and holiday-ish. :)

add glitter to ornament

Now just drop your shells in (the kiddos love this part):

add shells to clear glass ornament

Before you put the cap back on, put some of the clear craft glue around the inside of it…this will help ensure that the weight of the sand doesn’t pull the ornament right out of its top when it’s hanging. We don’t want a beach under the Christmas tree.

glue on ornament cap


put cap on clear ornament

For my Serenity ornament, I add a Poinsettia to the top after the cap is on and has dried completely. I cut off the plastic center of the flower, sprinkle it with a little bit of glitter, and sew a freshwater pearl to the center.

freshwater pearl and poinsettia

I just glue it to the top of the ornament:

glue poinsettia to ornament

All done. Isn’t this a cute and simple idea for a great beach keepsake?

sand and shell christmas ornament


beach ornament


  1. […] 7.) DIY Beach Vacation Ornament […]

  2. Anonymous on October 5, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Luv the beach one planned on making some but very tiny hole on plastic any ideas

  3. Vivian on November 4, 2018 at 8:15 am

    I love making ornaments at this time and yours look great

  4. Debbie on December 21, 2018 at 8:41 am

    Help! How much alcohol do you place in the plastic balls to reduce the dust? How do you dry the alcohol? They still had some sticking of dust & look bad. I didn’t know I would get sand dust inside the plastic balls in all 4 ornaments I attempted to make. I found this site & you said you first clean the inside with alcohol. I emptied out the ornaments & rinsed them out with alcohol. I tried cotton balls using long tweezers.

  5. Vickie on February 10, 2019 at 4:33 am

    I, too, have problems with sand dust. How do you keep it from “fogging” up the glass?

    • Donna on January 22, 2020 at 6:47 pm

      I tried plastic first for safety reasons, but found the sand would stick to the plastic on the inside. Tried to clean it with alcohol, tried different kinds of sand, nothing helped.
      Looked for answers online, nothing. Bought glass, no more sticking issues!

  6. Rhonda Taylor on August 8, 2019 at 8:53 am

    My daughter made some like this as favors for her wedding about 5 years ago. She included a “sign post” with their names and the date of the wedding. They were beautiful! Mine still graces my Christmas tree each year<3

  7. Kathleen Marie Macdonald on December 2, 2021 at 11:11 am

    I have so many seashells in my house. I would LOVE to put them to good use.

    • Janelle - Ornament Girl Support on December 2, 2021 at 7:29 pm

      I think that would be great! I bet you’d love the outcome.

  8. Kimberly on November 2, 2022 at 5:10 pm

    Does it not matter if it gets shaken?

    • Sarah Cinocco on November 3, 2022 at 12:18 pm

      The sand and the seashells are not glued in, so if it is shaken, they will move a bit. It will depend on how much sand and what extras you include. You wouldn’t want to shake it too much since it might bury the little shells.

  9. […] time you’re on a beach vacation, save some sand and seashells to make a fun vacation keepsake ornament for your Christmas […]

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