Deck the halls this holiday season with these simple scrap wood Cardinal ornaments. With their rich red hue and simple details, Cardinal ornaments are a timeless addition that you will be proud to showcase for years to come.

Whether you’re a fan of classic or modern holiday styling, Cardinal ornaments effortlessly blend in with any theme. Hang them on your Christmas tree, drape them along the mantle, or use them as a charming gift toppers (think dangling from a wine bottle?!). Their versatility knows no bounds.

History of cardinal ornaments

The cardinal is often associated with positive energy, vitality, and good fortune. In many cultures, it is believed that when a cardinal appears, it brings a message from a departed loved one. I often think of the saying “when cardinals are near, angels appear” – and I secretly send love to those I’ve lost.  By incorporating cardinal ornaments into your holiday decor, you not only add a touch of elegance but also infuse your space with a sense of warmth and spiritual significance. 

scrap wood cardinal ornaments, DIY cardinal ornaments


Make your own cardinal ornaments

If you’re feeling crafty and want to add a personal touch to your holiday decor, consider creating your own cardinal ornaments. There are numerous DIY tutorials and ideas available online that can guide you through the process. From painting wooden ornaments to sewing felt ones, you can unleash your creativity and make unique cardinal decorations that reflect your personal style. Not only will you have one-of-a-kind ornaments to cherish, but you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you created them yourself.
To make a wooden version of these simple and rustic cardinal ornaments all you need are a few pieces of scrap wood and a scroll saw or jigsaw.  These bits of wood are 2 ½” tall and 3″ long overall – sort of the standard size for Christmas ornaments, so easily stored.
Cut your bird shapes out on ¾” wood – whether it be plywood or scrap 1-by boards.  A scroll saw will make the cutting neater, but will be slower, while a jigsaw will cut the shapes out quickly, but will need extra sanding.
To copy the shape I used exactly, save the image, blow it up with your fingers, then put a piece of thin white or tracing paper over your phone or tablet.
DIY cardinal ornaments, scrap wood cardinal ornaments
Ideally, cut your wings out of a thinner piece of scrap wood.  If you don’t have thinner scraps (which I didn’t) use some needle nose pliers and CAREFULLY hold the thicker wood against your sander until it is thinned down.
It works, I promise – but I did have a couple shoot across the garage as well.
cut the wings from 1/4" wood then drill holes in your cardinal for the eye and ornament hanger
Drill two holes in each cardinal ornament – one for the eye, and a second for the ornament hanger.  Another option might be to paint an eye on your ornament after the paint has dried and maybe hot glue a ribbon as a hanger?
I used two coats of a deep red spray paint for my ornaments.  Once the paint had completely dried, I roughed up the edges with 220 grit sandpaper to let a little of the wood underneath show through.  You could paint a beak on your cardinal if you want, but the wood I was using had a yellowish tinge, so a light sanding over the beak area gave the impression of a beak and worked for me.
paint your cardinal ornaments

The timeless beauty of cardinal ornaments

One of the reasons why cardinal ornaments are so popular is their ability to seamlessly fit into any style of holiday decor. Whether you prefer a traditional, rustic, modern, or eclectic look, cardinal decor can enhance the overall aesthetic. For a classic look, pair them with gold and green accents. If you’re going for a rustic vibe, combine them with natural elements like pinecones and burlap. For a modern feel, opt for minimalist ornaments in sleek designs. No matter your style, cardinal ornaments can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your holiday decor.
scrap wood cardinal ornaments, DIY cardinal ornaments

Other options for cardinal ornaments

Not into cardinals?  No biggie – paint these scrap wood birds white and add a small piece of greenery to create peace doves.  Paint them blue for English bluebirds, or add a mask and make your own bluejay.  You could go with a beige paint and add a black cap for a Winter Chickadee!  (I think I need some of those!). At the end of the day it’s your Christmas and your traditions – but what tree is complete without a bird? ‍♀️
scrap wood cardinal ornaments, DIY cardinal ornaments

Tradition of cardinal ornaments

The custom of using cardinal ornaments as part of holiday decor dates back centuries. Cardinals, with their striking red feathers, have become iconic symbols of the holiday season. The practice of hanging cardinal ornaments on Christmas trees can be traced back to Victorian times when they were considered a symbol of good luck and happiness. Personally, I love them for the pop of colour, touch of whimsy and reminder that “angels are near”.

scrap wood cardinal ornaments, DIY cardinal ornaments

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scrap wood cardinal ornaments, DIY cardinal ornaments

scrap wood cardinal ornaments, DIY cardinal ornaments

Have a great one!