How Do You Make Melted Cup Ornaments?

Melted cup ornaments are a fun DIY holiday craft made by melting plastic cups into decorative shapes. They are popular on TikTok and Pinterest because they provide an inexpensive way to create unique Christmas tree decorations. The plastic cups are melted in an oven or microwave, flattened, punched with a hole, decorated, and hung on a Christmas tree.

To make melted cup ornaments, you need plastic cups, permanent markers, a cookie sheet or silicone baking mat, an oven or microwave, scissors, hole punch, ribbon, embellishments like glitter and sequins, and a stand or hanger to display them. The basic process involves drawing designs on the cups with markers, melting the cups in the oven or microwave into flat plastic disks, cutting any excess plastic off, punching a hole near the top, decorating, and threading ribbon through the hole to hang them. This craft allows you to customize fun shapes and designs to suit any holiday theme.

Selecting Cups

The best cups to use for melted cup ornaments are plastic party cups. Opt for lightweight plastic cups that are around 16 oz in size with thinner walls. According to Plastic Cup Shrinky Dink Ornaments, thinner plastic will melt down into more of a rounded ornament shape, while thicker plastic may retain more of the original cup shape. Solo brand party cups work well, as do Polar plastic cups in 16 oz size. Avoid using plastic cups or mugs made from high density polyethylene (HDPE #2) or polypropylene (PP #5) plastics as these have a higher melting point and may not shrink down smoothly.

Prepping the Cups

Before melting the cups, it’s important to properly prep them first. This involves washing the cups thoroughly with soap and water to remove any residue. Make sure to scrub both the inside and outside of the cup. Rinse them completely after washing.

The next step is to remove any labels or decorative images on the cups. This can be done by soaking the cups in warm water to loosen the labels. Then you can peel or scrape off the labels gently. Any remaining adhesive can be removed with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball according to Elementary Island Blog ( The cups should be completely clean and blank before melting.

Properly prepping the cups ensures they melt evenly in the oven and results in smooth ornaments. It also removes any potentially toxic materials from the labeling adhesives.

Adding Decorations

There are many types of decorations you can add to your melted cup ornaments to make them unique and eye-catching. Inside the cups before melting, you can add glitter, small beads, sequins, confetti, sprinkles, shredded paper, or other small lightweight items. The melting process will fuse these items right into the plastic for an embedded look.

For the outside of the ornaments after melting, you can glue on larger items like ribbons, bows, buttons, pine cones, bells, pom poms, fabric shapes, lace, wooden shapes, etc. You can also tie ribbons or string around the ornaments to hang them on the tree. Glitter glue can be used to add accents, names, snowflakes, trees, or other designs. Get creative with the decorations and make each ornament special! See these examples for inspiration:

Creating a Stand

A stand is necessary to display your melted cup ornament. There are a few different options for creating a stand:

You can use wire in different gauges and bend it into a hook shape to hang the ornament. Florist wire or jewelry wire work well for this. Make a small loop at the top to hang, and a larger loop at the bottom to hold the ornament 1.

Pipe cleaners are another good option for the stand. Simply twist a pipe cleaner into a circle shape at the top to make a loop for hanging, and shape the bottom into a cradle for the ornament 2.

You can also reuse plastic cups by cutting off the bottom and using the remaining ring to hold the ornament. Hot glue can help secure it in place.

Whichever option you choose, make sure the stand is sturdy enough to hold the weight of the ornament.

Melting the Cups

The key to melting the plastic cups is keeping a close eye on them as they shrink and warp in the heat. The plastic shrinks very quickly once it starts melting. Follow these instructions carefully when using the oven or microwave.

Oven Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the decorated cups face down on a foil-lined cookie sheet and bake for 1-2 minutes. Check frequently, as cups can melt in as little as 30 seconds (1). The plastic will slowly start collapsing and shrinking. Once the rims start to curl and the cups have shrunk by about 50%, remove them from the oven using tongs or a spatula. Work carefully when handling the hot cups (2).

Microwave Instructions

checking melted plastic cups in the microwave frequently is important to get the right shape

Place cups on a microwave-safe plate lined with parchment paper. Microwave one cup at a time for 15-30 seconds, checking every 5 seconds (3). Remove the cup once the plastic starts to warp and shrink. Microwaves vary in power, so adjust cooking times as needed. Melting too long may cause holes or make the ornaments too small.

Let the melted cups cool completely before handling. Be very careful, as the plastic will be extremely hot right out of the oven or microwave.

Removing from Oven/Microwave

Once the cups have melted to your desired shape, it is important to allow them proper cooling time before attempting to remove them. The melted plastic will be extremely hot immediately after baking, so make sure to allow at least 30-60 minutes for cooling before handling.

When you are ready to remove the cups, wear oven mitts or gloves to carefully pick up each cup one by one. Avoid touching the hottest plastic parts directly with your skin. You may need a spatula or spoon to gently lift the cups off the cookie sheet if they have flattened significantly. Place them on a heat-safe surface like the stovetop or countertop to finish cooling.

Rushing the cooling process increases your risk of burns from the hot plastic. Melted plastic also becomes more pliable as it cools, so removing the cups too early may cause them to warp or deform. Patience is key for allowing proper, safe cooling.

Attaching to Stand

Once the plastic cups have cooled and hardened after being melted, the next step is to attach them to a stand to create the ornament. There are a few common methods for securing the melted cups to ornament stands:

Hot glue is an easy and effective option. Simply apply hot glue around the top opening of the stand and quickly press the melted cup down onto it before the glue dries. Hold for 30-60 seconds. Hot glue dries quickly and will hold the cup securely (source).

For a more decorative look, florist wire or string can be used to attach the melted cup to the stand. Cut a length of wire or string, wrap it around both the stand and cup’s lip 2-3 times, and then twist the ends together underneath to secure (source). This allows the attachment to be hidden while still keeping the cup ornament sturdy.

Clear plastic adhesive can also be used, applying it around the stand top and cup lip. This dries transparent for a more seamless look. Allow to fully cure for 24 hours before hanging (source).

Whichever method you choose, take care to firmly secure the melted cup so the ornament can be hung safely without detachment.

Adding Embellishments

After your melted cup ornaments have cooled and hardened, you can add embellishments like ribbons, bows, and other glued-on decorations to further customize them. Ribbons are a classic option to hang your ornaments or add a pop of color. Cut different widths and lengths of ribbon and tie them in bows at the ornament tops or around the edges for more visual interest. You can use hot glue, strong craft glue, or epoxy to affix the ribbons securely. Bows made from grosgrain ribbon, burlap, lace, raffia, or fabric scraps also make lovely accents. Simply tie or glue small bows onto the ornaments wherever you’d like a festive touch. Alternatively, make bows ahead of time and glue them on. Beyond ribbons and bows, the possibilities for other embellishments are endless. You can glue on doodads like buttons, silk flowers, bells, beads, charms, small wreaths, pine cones, felt shapes, lace trims, pom poms, and more – get creative!

Some great glitzy options cited at include decorating with rhinestones, glitter, metallic rub-ons, and sequins. The melted, smooth surfaces of the plastic cup ornaments make the perfect backdrop for any glittery embellishments. Let your imagination run wild with unique combinations and custom designs.

Displaying Melted Cup Ornaments

Once your melted cup ornaments are finished, it’s time to proudly display them around your home or gift them to loved ones. Here are some tips for showing off your homemade ornaments:

Hanging the ornaments is a classic way to display them. Tie a ribbon through the hole at the top to create a hanger. Hang them on your Christmas tree, over mantels, on stair railings, or anywhere else you’d like a pop of colorful decor. Space them out or cluster them together for different looks.

You can also set out the ornaments on shelves, side tables, kitchen counters, and more. Arrange them creatively or just set one out as a standalone piece. They make great holiday decorations all on their own.

If you’re gifting the ornaments, consider displaying them attractively in a box or gift bag. Add tissue paper, ribbon, or other embellishments to dress up the gift. Include a tag that explains the ornaments are handmade. Your friends and family will love the unique, crafty gift.

With their festive, handmade look, these melted cup ornaments are sure to add cheerful holiday spirit wherever they’re displayed!

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