Who says the holidays have to be red, white and green? Not me. I think Christmas is all about magic and wonderment. So say bye-bye to traditional and hello to funky and fun. These brightly colored Himmeli ornaments are easy to make. You can put them on your tree, place them in a glass vase or hang them as garland. The best part is that you can use them to decorate the house long after the New Year.


  • Pipe cleaners (you need three for each ornament)
  • String
  • Borax (find this in the detergent aisle at the grocery store. We suggest 20 Mule Team Borax.)
  • Boiling water


  • Pencil or stick
  • Bucket or jar
  • Measuring cup
  • Plastic teaspoon or tablespoon
  • Scissors


    Bending pipe cleaners to prepare them to be ornamentsFrom left, clockwise, these images depict steps 1 through 4 for making the ornaments. (Photos: Kelly Ladd)

  1. Take two of your pipe cleaners and twist them together in the center twice. You will make an "X" shape.
  2. Bend each side of the "X" up, two inches from center.
  3. Bend the new shape into itself so it lengthens slightly.
  4. Take the end of your third pipe cleaner and hook it (by twisting it) onto one of the four bent edges of the original shape.
  5. Cutting pipe cleaners to prepare them to be ornamentsFrom left, clockwise, these images depict steps 5 through 8 for making the ornaments. (Photo: Kelly Ladd)

  6. Create a straight line from one bend to the next. Wrap around each bend with the pipe cleaner until you go all the way around. You'll be making a square with the third pipe cleaner.
  7. Trim any excess pipe cleaner with your scissors.
  8. Bend the tops of the Himmeli shape so they come together as a point. Twist them together and then bend the top over slightly to create a loop.
  9. Cut a piece of string and then tie it to the pipe cleaner loop.
  10. Dipping the bent and cut pipe cleaner into borax to create the crystal effect.From left, clockwise, these images depict steps 9 through 12 for making the ornaments. (Photos: Kelly Ladd)

  11. Tie the string to a pencil or stick.
  12. Scoop borax into your jar. (The solution measurement you need to follow is 3 tablespoons or 9 teaspoons per 1 cup of water.) The size of your container will determine how much solution you will need. Make sure you measure. The project will be an epic fail if you don't use enough borax or if you use room temperature water.
  13. Pour 2 cups of boiling water into your jar.
  14. Submerge your ornament into the solution. Align your pencil across the top of your jar. You don't want the ornament to touch the sides or bottom of the jar. If you're making more than one ornament in a bucket, don't let any of them touch. Let it sit overnight in the solution and pull it out in the morning.

The science behind it

Pipe cleaner ornaments covered in borax crystals hanging from branchesA chemical reaction and the color of the pipe cleaner make your ornaments look like geological wonders. (Photo: Kelly Ladd)

Here's the science behind the project for all of you nerds out there. When you mix the borax with water, you create a suspension in the solution. What that means is that the mixture contains solid particles that will need to eventually settle. When you mix it with boiling water, the borax suspends longer. (This project won't work if you don’t boil the water. It needs a longer suspension time.) As the solution starts to settle, it crystallizes on the pipe cleaner, as well as the sides and bottom of your jar/bucket.