Last year, I painted nutcracker glasses and crafted simple napkin rings to compliment the Christmas Day table setting.
Several years ago, I shared my Nutcracker Collection Christmas Centerpiece & Table. Complimenting it was an adorable appliqued runner and festive cracker favors.
Because my son’s now fiancé was joining us for the first time over the holidays, I wanted to pull out all the stops with my Christmas decorations and table settings. So I updated the nutcracker theme tablescape, adding the painted glasses and napkin rings. You can see the restyled tablescape at the end of this post.
When I went to Dollar Tree to pick up the clear goblets, I discovered they had a lot of nutcracker theme items for Christmas. That gave me the idea of using nutcracker tree ornaments to make simple napkin rings.
Inspired, I quickly got to work painting the images of three different color/styles of nutcracker faces on six goblets. Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to share how I painted the glasses or put together the napkin rings last year.
Both projects are very inexpensive to create, and the napkin rings are super fast and easy to make.
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Let me show you the template method I developed for painting your own nutcracker glasses to grace a Christmas table. They also make nice take home favors for guests. For more detailed instructions, pictures and tips please also refer to DIY Hand Painted Glasses & Champagne Flutes.
Materials & Equipment
When painting stemware, I most often use glassware from Dollar Tree. Because they provide a good amount of surface area for painting, I especially like the large 16.25 ounce goblets. Made of thick clear glass, they also aren’t fragile to handle. And, having a stem makes the glasses easy to hold while painting.
- Clear glasses
- Rubbing alcohol
- Paper towels
- Cotton swabs
- Glass paint pen(s)
- Glass or multi-purpose acrylic paint(s)
- Paint brush(s)
You’ll also need a ruler, pencil, paper, and scissors. And if you find the nutcracker image you want to replicate online, you’ll need a computer and printer.
Step 1: Prep Glasses
Before you begin painting, wash the glasses in the dishwasher or by hand with soap and water.
Once they are fully dry, wipe any areas to be painted (glass, stem and/or bottom) with rubbing alcohol. This helps remove any remaining residue and prepares the surface for the paint to adhere to.
Step 2: Create an Image Template
First, you need a picture or drawing to use as a template for painting the nutcracker image. Find an image of a nutcracker from a card, magazine or online. Or, draw an image freehand, which is what I did to Paint Thanksgiving Turkey Glasses as Table Favors.
To the right is one of the two images I found online and used to create the nutcracker template.
Next, measure the surface area of the glass you intend to paint. For the Dollar Tree goblets, the area is about 2 1/2″ wide by 3 1/4″ tall. Now mark out a block of the same dimensions on a piece of paper. If you are free handing the image, draw it within that block.
If you located a copyright free nutcracker image online as I did, first save it to your computer. Then insert the picture into a word processor page (I use MicrosoftⓇ Word). Simply resize the image (while maintaining the scale ratio) to fit the paint area dimensions.
Now make as many copies of the same sized image as you have glasses to paint. Finally, print the sheet and cutout each image.
Step 3: Secure Image Inside Glass
Tape the image to the inside of the glass, carefully positioning it in place. Then insert a crumbled paper towel or napkin inside, so that the image is flattened against the curve of the glass surface.
Be careful to keep the image in the same position at all times while painting.
Step 4: Paint with Brush
First paint the larger areas of color using a paintbrush. Work with one color at a time across all the glasses.
Be careful to not put too much paint on the brush, or it might run. Use Q-tips dipped in rubbing alcohol to quickly remove mistakes and to clean up edges. While paiting, go slow and take your time.
Depending on the type of paint (opaque, translucent, etc.) you likely will have to apply two or three coats of each color for adequate coverage. Be sure to allow two hours to dry between coats and colors.
On the last coat of white for the nutcracker’s hair and ruffled front shirt, I dabbed the paint to create a textured look.
I also painted several coats of gold metallic paint on the bottom of each glass. Afterwards, I left the glasses upside down to dry between coats.
Painting on the underside of the glass looks like liquid gold when right-side-up. I painted all six glasses with metallic gold, but you could choose a different color for each glass. That would help guests identify who’s glass was who’s — instead of using stem charms.
You could also personalize each glass, by writing guests names on the foot of the stemware..
Step 5: Add the Details
Facial features of the nutcrackers were the last details painted with a fine-tipped brush and paint pens.
Step 6: Cure
At minimum, you need four days for the glasses to properly cure before using. But to be top rack, dishwasher safe, requires 21 days of air drying.
Or, you can speed the process by curing the nutcracker glasses in an oven. First, place the glasses into a cold oven. Heat to 350 degrees. Then bake for an hour.
Turn off the oven and let the glasses cool completely to room temperature before removing them.
What do think?
DIY Nutcracker Napkin Rings
I have long admired the set of four nutcracker napkin rings for $10 at World Market. But, I balked at spending $20 plus shipping for two sets, since there are no stores in the Pittsburgh area. If you live near a retail store, you might want to just buy the napkin rings.
However, crafting the nutcracker napkin rings is a quick, easy and inexpensive project. Plus, the ornaments I used are much larger than the ones on World Market’s napkin rings.
Materials & Equipment
All you need is a hot glue gun, Dollar Tree white or clear shower curtain rings, and small nutcracker Christmas tree ornaments. I was inspired to make the napkin rings when I found sets of four nutcracker ornaments at Dollar Tree.
I’ve often seen similar sets at TJ Maxx and Marshalls, but at about the cost of theready-made napkin rings at World Market.
Step 1: Glue Ornaments to Rings
I used a hot glue gun to attach the nutcracker ornaments to the flattened clip area of the shower rings. To allow the glue to setup, I held/pressed each nutcracker to the ring for about a minute
Of course, you could also use actual napkin rings. Perhaps basic wooden ones spray-painted metallic gold?
To keep them from rolling onto their sides, I simply laid each nutcracker face-down in the divided cardboard sleeve the ornaments came in.
About an hour later, I generously added more glue — and filled any gaps — where the back of the nutcracker touched the shower ring. Unfortunately, I don’t have any photo’s to show you of the process.
Step 2: Remove Cord Hangers
Initially, I wasn’t sure the glue would hold the pieces together, as napkins were slipped inside the finished nutcracker rings. Or, when guests pulled the napkins from the rings to place on their laps. So, I kept the cord hangers attached to the nutcrackers. That way, I figured guests could at least take them as favors to hang on a tree.
However, the napkin rings held together just fine! Before setting this year’s nutcracker table, I’ll remove the hangers.
Updated Nutcracker Tablescape
Here’s what one of the eight different nutcracker theme place settings looked like on last year’s Christmas table.
Each place setting consisted of a Lenox Holiday Nouveau dinner plate, Waterford Kenmare crystal stemware (retired), hand painted nutcracker goblet, antique sterling silver flatware, and a crafted nutcracker napkin ring.
There was also a gold Christmas tree place holder with nutcracker name card, nutcracker cracker (Pier 1), and small standing nutcracker figure (also Dollar Tree).
There were six or eight different styles of nutcrackers, so each guest had their own unique figure to take home as a favor.
See the theme table runner and Nutcracker Collection Christmas Centerpiece & Table for other details.
For dinner, I served our traditional meal of shrimp cocktail (in the Waterford champagne glass); greens topped with pears, pomegranates and blue cheese, with fig dressing; baked sweet potatoes; Brussel sprouts with cranberries and toasted pecans; and individual beef Wellingtons in puff pastry. For dessert there’s always a Buche de Noel (Yule Log) from our fabulous, local French patisserie.
After the “kids” and my mother arrive next week, we are all heading downtown to see the Pittsburgh Ballet’s Nutcracker. We haven’t gone to the production in many years. And, I am so excited to get six tickets together in Directors Circle — close to the stage with a little “altitude” for a clear view. I already have visions of sugar plums dancing in my head!
One of these year’s, I’d like to find the time to share my nutcracker ornament collection and Byer’s Choice figures. There never seems to be enough time to get everything done during the holiday season!
Are you ready yet? I still am awaiting my photo holiday cards to address and mail! I did finish shopping, but now everything needs wrapped. Plus, there’s cleaning and decorating the upstairs bedrooms and baths. After that is meal planning for two weeks, grocery shopping, and cookies to be baked!
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