Science Ornaments for Your Christmas Tree

A traditionally-decorated Christmas tree is nice, but you have a world of opportunities to personalize yours. If you are a scientist, or you just love science, you’re going to covet these specialty ornaments that show off your geeky side. They are destined to be heirlooms.


Michelle Banks renders visions of cell division, bacteria, and other microscopic biology subjects in watercolors. Her prints grace many a laboratory, although she also does fabric scarves and paintings in petri dishes. And she has smaller works for sale, in little petri dishes made into Christmas ornaments! You can see them at her Etsy shop. Some are faithful representations of microscopic images, such as the single pyramidal neuron on the left. Others are whimsical, like the fluffy bird flu viruses on the right.

Glass artist Mark Kemp offers an amoeba for your Christmas tree. It’s made of solid glass, and should be recognizable to anyone who’s peered through a microscope at a drop of swamp water. Perfect for a scientist’s tree!

A perfect pre-Christmas gift for any biology geek, medical doctor, or molecular geneticist would be a strip of DNA for the Christmas tree. This DNA pillow ornament is hand-made and for sale through the Etsy shop reggieana. There’s only one, though. If you miss out, you might catch the science lab pillow ornament from the same seller. 

I adore these Wet Specimen Holiday Ornaments from Forgotten Boneyard. They are heavy duty glass globes filled with water and your choice of spiders, leeches, sheep eyeballs, or insects. Too bad they are sold out. If the demand is there, the artist may have more next year.


Etsy seller NeuronsNotIncluded offers a handsome Christmas tree ornament that takes advantage of the element Holmium as it appears on the Periodic Table of Elements, in triplicate. If that’s not nerdy enough for you, the ornament on the right can be found at the same store.

The American Chemical Society has a list of a half-dozen or so recipes for making Christmas ornaments with chemistry, in the form of experiments. The snowflakes shown here were covered with homegrown borax crystals, starting with a pipe cleaner matrix or a matrix cut from a coffee filter.


Rocks on a Christmas tree? You Bet! Beautiful brightly-colored polished crystal agate slices make lovely Christmas tree ornaments. They aren’t diamonds; they are bigger and less expensive. This agate ornament comes from Etsy seller YDBT.


The father of psychoanalysis can be featured front and center on your Christmas tree -or possibly off to the side, where he can observe your behavior and obsessions. The 6” Sigmund Freud ornament is for sale at the Etsy store named SigmundFreud. Imagine that.


Nothing is more traditional than glass balls on your Christmas tree. Artists B.J. Johnson and Joy Alyssa Day offer hand blown glass ornaments that represent all the planets in our solar system (plus Pluto) in their collection called Gimme Some Space! The sizes are different, although not quite proportional to the real planets, and they can be purchased separately or as a set that includes the sun. The price is …astronomical.


There are many dinosaur Christmas ornaments, considering how kids love dinosaurs, and they aren’t hard to find. Cosmogorilla has a selection of science-related ornaments, including these cute renderings of long-extinct non-dinosaur species. Shown here are Anomalocaris (purple), Trilobite (orange) and Opabinia (blue).

If you want a real fossil, Etsy seller YDBT offers a Elrath Kingi trilobite fossil embedded in a Christmas ornament. On the right is a matching ornament featuring a 665 million-year-old ammonite fossil

Various Disciplines

The Women Heroes of Science Ornaments comes in a set of six wooden ornaments, featuring

Rosalind Franklin (genetics)
Marie Curie (radiation/chemistry)
Jane Goodall (primatology)
Rachel Carson (ecology)
Elizabeth Blackwell (first U.S. female physician)
Ada Lovelace (considered the first programmer)

Each one will be a conversation starter, so be sure you know how to explain who they are and what they did. They are also a great reminder for our children of what women have done and can do in science. There’s also a larger set with both men and women scientists.

Yes, You Can Put Your Christmas Decorations Up Now—and Should, According to Psychologists

We all know at least one of those people who's already placing an angel on top of his or her Christmas tree while everyone else on the block still has paper ghosts stuck to their windows and a rotting pumpkin on the stoop. Maybe it’s your neighbor; maybe it’s you. Jolliness aside, these early decorators tend to get a bad rap. For some people, the holidays provide more stress than splendor, so the sight of that first plastic reindeer on a neighbor's roof isn't exactly a welcome one.

But according to two psychoanalysts, these eager decorators aren’t eccentric—they’re simply happier. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told UNILAD:

“Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.

In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.

Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!”

Amy Morin, another psychoanalyst, linked Christmas decorations with the pleasures of childhood, telling the site: “The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”

She also explained that these nostalgic memories can help remind people of spending the holidays with loved ones who have since passed away. As Morin remarked, “Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”

And that neighbor of yours who has already been decorated since Halloween? Well, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, homes that have been warmly decorated for the holidays make the residents appear more “friendly and cohesive” compared to non-decorated homes when observed by strangers. Basically, a little wreath can go a long way.

So if you want to hang those stockings before you’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead. You might just find yourself happier for it.

YouTube // frank howarth
Watch a Master Woodworker Make a Christmas Ornament
YouTube // frank howarth
YouTube // frank howarth

Woodworker Frank Howarth makes Christmas ornaments each year, and he shows us the process in his videos. The videos aren't simple how-to presentations, though; they're little works of art, featuring timelapse, very little language, and even stop-motion photography. This year's ornament video is no exception.

In this 11-minute video, Howarth makes what he calls an "inside-out Christmas ornament," complete with a mini-Christmas tree inside. It's fascinating to watch a master at work, especially when he gets into wood turning on a lathe. He also intercuts the process of selecting and cutting down his family's Christmas tree at a tree farm. Tune in, relax, and enjoy.

If you liked that, here are some previous ornament videos: Snow Bell ornament, Inside Out ornament (different from this year's), Segmented ornament, and Another Segmented ornament.


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