DIY Porcelain Holiday Tree Lights

4 prolein holiday tree lightsHi! It’s Mandi, from Making Nice in the Midwest, here to talk to you about how to avoid overspending on cute decorations at Target this holiday season. Okay, so really this post is about how to make your own “porcelain” holiday tree light set just like the ones I almost spent $70 on at Target.

It might not have been my biggest “Oops, did I buy that?” moment at Target, but it was certainly the most avoidable. After putting two of their larger LED holiday trees into my cart, I began to reach for two smaller ones before it occurred to me- I can make my own set for less than the cost of one! Here’s how.

parchment paper, cardstock, rolling pin, 4 tealights, and X-Acto knifeMaterials and Supplies Needed:
-8″ cone template (left + right), 6″ cone template, 4″ cone template
-4 pieces of heavyweight cardstock
parchment paper
-2 – 12″ lengths of 1/8″ dowel
-small blade (X-Acto knives are great for so many projects!)
aspic cutter in star shape
rolling pin
air dry porcelain or modeling clay
4 LED tea lights
-(not pictured) wet rag or paper towel or tiny sponge
-(not pictured) glue or tape

cone shape cutout with parchment paper over itsomeone rolling molding clay ov er the parchment paper with a rolling pinStep One: I whipped up a set of cone templates for you to print onto cardstock and glue together to use as guidelines for rolling out your clay and as scaffolding for forming your holiday trees.

The large 8″ and medium 6″ cone templates need to be cut out and glued together, while the two smaller 4″ cone templates are already in one piece. These templates should be printed onto 8.5×11″ cardstock and should not be resized to avoid cropping during printing.

After you have the flat cone template cut out, wait to glue or tape it into a cone shape until after step three.

Click for the templates: 8″ cone (part one & part two) | 6″ cone | 4″ cone

Step Two: Place your parchment paper overtop of the flat cone template and roll out the clay on top of the paper to 1/8″ thickness.

The dowels will rest under the rolling pin to keep you from rolling out the clay too thinly. Do not use wax paper for this, because it will stick to the clay. Aluminum foil also isn’t the best choice because it will tint your clay with a grey color.

But if foil is all you have, you can always use the tinted side for the inside of your cones, and no one will be the wiser!

photo 1: someone outlining the cone template onto the modeling clay, photo 2: someone etching lines in the modeling clay with the X-Acto knife, photo 3: someone wrapping the modeling clay around the cone template, and photo 4: someone using a star shaped cutter to put star shaped holes in the modeling clayStep Three: After rolling out enough clay to cover the template, remove the template from behind the paper and place it on top of the clay.

Trim around it with a blade and put the excess clay away or wrap it in a wet paper towel, so it doesn’t dry out. Now you can finish assembling your cone template so it will be ready to be used as scaffolding for forming your tree in step five.

Step Four: Using a blade, score the edge of the clay on the side that you want to be on the inside of the cone. Use cross hatching for this technique.

Then, lay the paper cone onto this edge and wrap the clay around the paper cone. If there isn’t enough clay to wrap around the cone, lay it back onto the paper and roll out only the edges to give you a bit of an overlap when it’s wrapped around the paper cone.

Step Five: After the clay has been wrapped around the paper cone, cross hatch on the other edge of the clay (facing the outside, not the inside this time) and wet both cross hatched areas with a wet paper towel or small sponge.

The cross hatched edge from step four should lay on top of the newly cross hatched edge. This “score and slip” technique will bind together the seam so that it doesn’t break apart when the clay has dried. Hold the cone from the inside while from the outside you smooth together the seam with a wet paper towel.

Step Six: Holding the cone from the inside, press your finger against the area you want to pierce with the little star shaped aspic cutter. (Aspic is basically just a fancy name for savory jelly.)

You’ll need to really press the cutter against the paper cone where your finger is pushing against from the inside, and give it a little wiggle too. When you pull out the cutter, the clay should come out with it. If you mess up one hole, you can always spruce it up with a blade.

And if you really butcher the piercing process, you can always just take the clay off the cone, ball it up, and begin all over again!

4 porcelain holiday tree lights with someone lifting one up to reveal a tea light under itclose up of one of the porcelain holiday tree lightAfter all of the holes have been cut into the clay, let your cones sit on the cardstock scaffolding for 6 hours. Then, gently remove the cardstock and let the clay dry out for another 24 hours before handing.

You can paint or glaze your trees if you want a more colorful scene, but I love how the little LED tea lights glow inside of the white trees! This would be a great way to decorate a mantle, or you could make some extra trees and create a magical winter tablescape for your holiday parties.

If you don’t feel like making your own, these are beautiful and I love these for a year-round option as well. You can also put things like fairy lights in your trees for a multiple light glow! Looking for more DIY clay projects?

Click here for 20 Clay Craft DIYs. Happy Holidays! –Mandi Johnson

P.S. For more cute home decor, check out our wishlist and shopping pages!

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson.

  • I just finished making these! I couldn’t find air dry porcelain, so I just used air dry modeling clay. I am a complete beginer, but they turned out great! Thank you!

  • Hey, is it still possible to download the tutorial anywhere? As the person before me already mentioned the links to the templates do not seem to be working anymore.
    Thanks so much in advance! Have a beautiful day!

    • Hi Lee! I’m sorry about that– You might contact Mandi, the author the post (her IG is @mandimakes)

  • I love these and want to make them as a craft program in my library, but every time I click on the links for the templates, I just get another copy of the the blog page. Would you send me a link to the templates?

    Thank you!

  • I also used air dry clay (the cheap kind from Michaels) to make cut out covers for candles. When I put a votive under mine after the clay had dried, the smell of the clay burning was intolerable. I am going to check the chemicals on the air dry clay to see what, exactly, I was inhaling! I will try with the air dry porcelain–if there is such a thing. Otherwise, beware of the burnt hair smell you will notice if you make this and burn votives under them.

  • The supply list calls for electric LED candles. But if you are opposed to using those, I would just use ceramic clay that you bake. I don’t think having an enclosed top would be great for a flame, though. These are meant to be used with the LED lights as shown. 🙂

  • I used LED candles, not actual flames, but I probably wouldn’t put a flame under something with such little outlet for air anyway. I would stick with something electric.

  • Hello! I wanted to let you know that I’ve featured your project in my holiday DIY roundup! You can find the post here: I hope you have a wonderful day!

  • These turned out adorable! I love it when I can make a decoration myself for much cheaper than in the store. Thankfully, my town doesn’t have a Target so I’m not constantly tempted by all their wonderful stuff. haha

  • Just as a head’s up, I found your post through Pinterest. Target has pinned this post with a picture of your porcelain tree with a caption about these being a great addition to holiday decor. I think they may have missed the whole “DIY” point…

  • I LOVE this idea!! And I am definitely in the “oops, did I just spend $100 (or more) at Target?!” That store definitely gets me into trouble sometimes. I bet this would be cute for some other holiday decorations too!


  • I Just made a list of Christmas themed DIYs and Inspirational websites! Should add this to it!

  • Mandi, I love your blog! These are so beautiful and professional looking. I’m always inspired when I read ABM. Thanks for sharing.

  • Love this!! Thanks so much Mandi, and thanks for providing the templates too 🙂

  • Thank you! This is very cute!
    I just ask myself how air dry porcelain reacts to the high temperature of the candle?

  • I haven’t heard of air drying porcelain, so now I am excited to get that! These are really cute, and I would want them displayed all year round.

  • was für eine tolle idee…ich wäre gern den ganzen dezember zu hause und würde alles ausprobieren 😉

    vreeni von freak in you

  • These are just wonderful! Live them!

    Lulu xx

  • Lovely!!

    I think I would paint the insides with copper or gold paint for added glow! Xx

  • Alicja, I bought this exact pack: It says 2.2 lbs, but I only used about 3/4 of the block.

  • Ah these are so pretty, wish I had some time to make them!
    Rosie x | Every Word Handwritten

  • Those are so sweet! I can see a tiny little village of porcelain houses and trees …

  • Okay, these are way cute! So have to make them!

    xo, Juliette Laura

  • Oh, these are so pretty. I like that they’ve been left so simple and chic but still festive!

  • Looks amazing, I’m going for DIY gifts this year, and I’ll definitly make these!

    I’m just having hard time figuring how many packages of clay should I order (they’re 2 oz). How many did you use for your trees, Mandi?

  • We have never made DIY with porcelain, it looks beautiful!

  • These are lovely! Something I would love to have around my home. Fantastic idea- Thanks!

  • These are so sweet! Such a beautiful little Christmas decoration! Love it!

  • oh cute, and could double as party hats:)

  • Very cute idea! Even for all year round!

  • Trista, I found this block of air dry modeling clay at a craft store for about 6 dollars! There was a more expensive kind at JoAnn, but I thought the cheap stuff worked just fine.

  • This is a really cute idea, never heard befor about the Air Dry Porcelain!

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  • Wow! they are great… I have some Christmas ideas on my blog as well, I hope you can come sometime and see them, I would love to contribute with your blog someday 😉


  • love this. I’ve seen a couple of crafts with Air Dry Porcelain. Can you find that at a regular craft store, or does it have to be special ordered?

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