diy fall decor vintage photo ornament tutorial family memory tree day of the dead

Hang vintage pictures from fall branches to make a new twist on the Thankful Tree!  Half Day of the Dead and Halloween, half Thanksgiving–its the perfect diy fall decor projec that you can keep on display from October 1st to November 30th!  

Remember grandma, grandpa and other cherished relatives with this beautiful and easy-to-craft display!  Here’s how to do it…

diy fall decor ideas thankful tree family memory tree from old photos autumn decor ideas memorial tree


Materials needed:

  • copies of vintage photos
  • unfinished wooden frames (mine were 5 inches long)
  • acrylic paint (I used black craft paint)
  • floral branches
  • small pine cones
  • 2 vases, 1 smaller, 1 larger
  • satin ribbon in coordinating color to your frames
  • permanent glue stick
  • scissors

STEP #1 – Choose your ornaments:  I found my unfinished, laser-cut ornaments at Michael’s around Christmastime last year.  They were about $2 a piece.  You should be able to find something similar now (since Christmas stuff is already out).  If not, here is another wooden laser-cut frame, with an open face from Amazon, that would also work:

If you use an open-faced frame and I will give you instructions for that option too! 

STEP #2Paint your frames:  I painted both sides of my frames because they were going to be displayed in front of a mirror–so keep those details in mind.  I did 2 coats of paint, you may need more for lighter colors.  Allow the frames to dry fully, at least 3 hours after the final coat before you start gluing! 

old family photo craft projects family photo ornaments vintage photographs

STEP #3 – Prepare your pictures:  I took mine to FedEx-Kinkos and had them color copied on one thick cardstock sheet (in bright white).  It cost me 25 cents–you seriously can’t beat that!  

You can also use your home printer by scanning and printing them out.  I used color settings because I love the naturally-aged tones in the photos.  You could also do black & white or sepia filters on your computer! 

Diy fall decor tutorial memory tree wooden laser cut ornaments how to make a pattern for a frame

STEP #4 – Make a pattern for your ornament:  

If it has a closed face: Unwrap a crayon and take a sheet of paper and place it on top of your ornament.  Rub the crayon over the sheet of paper / face of the ornament.  This will leave you with a print of the ornament’s shape.  Cut around the section you’ll be gluing your photo to and use this as your template!  Trace your template over your copied photos and cut them out, glue them to the face of your ornaments! 

If it has an open face:  Go to step 2 of this ornament tutorial, then come on back! 

old family photo ornament tutorial vintage photos craftsSTEP #5 – Apply hangers:  Here are the ornaments all completed!  I strung them with black satin ribbon, leaving the ends super-long so I could adjust how they hang on the branches.  You could also use burlap ribbon, jute twine, grosgrain–depending on the look you want!

diy fall decor tutorial family vintage photo ornament vase pinecones

STEP #6 – Prep your vases & add branches:  You can’t see it very well in the picture above but I have a smaller vase in the middle of my larger vase, similar to this technique here.  Then I used my mini pine cones as filler around the gap between the two vases so I wouldn’t have to fill the entire vase.

I inserted two large faux autumn floral branches, that I found at JoAnn’s for $3.19 a piece (on sale).  Make sure you choose sturdy branches that can support the weight of the ornaments.  You could also collect real wood branches and spray them (like this) to make the base of your tree! 

I bent the bottom wire stems of the branches and placed them in the smaller vase.  Then I filled the top of the smaller vase with more pine cones to hide it. 

Around the bottom of the vase I used GlueDots to secure a strip of extra-wide satin ribbon that I had leftover from another project.

DIY Fall Decor Ideas Family Memory Tree Entryway Decor Autumn Decor Thankful tree memorial tree

STEP # 7 – Decorate:  Finally the fun part!  I hung my ornaments low on the branches and left lots of spare ribbon hanging down.  I also used a strip of burlap ribbon on my rather thin entryway table and surrounded the tree with gourds and mini pumpkins!

For more beautiful pictures & my personal thoughts on the Fall Memory Tree go here!

I hope you love this diy Fall decor project as much as I do!  Leave a comment below if you have any questions!


xo, Kristen
Kristen Hong of Hello Nutritarian

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  • Elizabeth Clark says:

    Love your work. I’m going to make it. I’m thinking about using fake plastic tree for my project. I hope it works well.

    Thanks for sharing your nice idea.

    • Kristen | Hello Nutritarian says:

      Hi Elizabeth!

      Thanks so much for your kind words!

      I’m so excited you’re going to give it a try–it really is a lovely piece of decor!

      xo, Kristen

  • Morrell Alvin says:

    I am so making this! I need some whimsey in my home!!

    • Kristen | Hello Nutritarian says:

      That’s so lovely to hear!

      xo, Kristen