DIY Painted Hot Cocoa Ornaments

hand painted hot cocoa ornamentsAfter agreeing to make a Polar Express Theme art submission for a local club’s holiday festivities, I decided that painting these mug of hot cocoa ornaments was something that needed to be shared! It was super easy, with inexpensive supplies, and I seriously may consider covering my tree with these next year!

“Go With” Gift Idea: Quick Christmas Craft: Hot Cocoa Jars

DIY Painted Hot Cocoa Ornaments Craft


  • Round ornament blanks – I bought mine at Michael’s for $2 each – they’re plaster, but you could also make your own with air dry clay, salt dough, or Sculpey. These were about 1/2 inch thick, and 4″ in diameter.
  • Acrylic paint in brown (burnt sienna), white, red or green, and unbleached titanium (off-white/cream)
  • Satin varnish (optional)
  • Paintbrushes – one round, one fine liner, one flat
  • Ribbon for hanging if you’re making these on your own
  • Cotton balls (optional)
  • Small white pom-poms (optional)

hot cocoa ornaments supply list

The first thing you’ll want to do is smooth out any rough edges, and paint your whole ornament white if need be. The premade ones had a pretty large top for the ribbon, which I turned into the mug handle. You don’t have to have this part, and you could put your hole anywhere in a homemade ornament blank, really… but it makes a cute mug handle if it’s there.

Painting The Hot Cocoa Base

After this, you’ll paint a circle of brown paint, leaving about a 1/2″ rim around the outside. You may want to add a bit of the unbleached titanium to lighten up your brown to have it look more like hot cocoa.

hot cocoa ornaments step one

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Use a hairdryer to speed up the drying of this layer.

Making Shadows

For depth, you’ll want to mix some white and black paint to get a very light gray. First, paint a circle of gray around the brown circle, about 1/4″ thick, leaving about 1/4″ of white on the outer edge, so it adds some depth to the ‘mug.’ Remember, this is just a shadow of sorts, so the lighter, the better. I also painted a tiny bit only on the mug ‘handle’ to show some depth there as well. Again, optional, but it’s that little bit of extra touch that makes it look great. (You’ll see this in later images.)

hot cocoa ornaments swirls bubbles

Next, you’re going to want to decide if you wish to have the creamy swirls, the bubbles, or both. Make a mix of 3 parts unbleached titanium to 1 part brown, and paint on a spiral. Then lighten your mix and do some additional details on the spiral, and lighten once more for a final swipe of swirl.

hot cocoa ornaments swirls

Hot Cocoa Bubbles

For the bubbles, you can use the end of a straw, dipped in the paint. These look best when used with the 3D elements I mention later on, as when they’re alone, they’re plain as-is, but if rustic simplicity is your style, then go for the bubbles! You can use a coffee stirrer for smaller bubbles.

There are your first two ornament options! Stay tuned for one more step further down.

Painted Mini-Marshmallows

Now we move on to the painted-on marshmallows. If you don’t have pom-poms or don’t want to use them, you can simply paint on your marshmallows with white paint. I like to use a flat brush for this, as it’s easy to make one small stroke and have a perfectly sized mini marshmallow! (You can see my light gray shading here, on the mug center, as well as the ‘handle’!)

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hot cocoa ornaments marshmallowsThat’s number three!

Cotton Ball Whipped Cream

For more 3-dimensional options, after varnishing your ornament completely, you can pull apart a cotton ball and twist one side of it to make it look like a dollop of whipped cream. Use glue to stick it to the middle of the ornament, for version four!

Pom-Pom Marshmallows

And last, but not least, option five: Glue a few small, white pom-poms down for marshmallows instead of painting them on. Ideally, three is the perfect number for this. Too many, and you don’t see your rich cocoa colors. Too few, and the result is that it looks like someone was being stingy. These look so adorable, don’t they?

hot cocoa ornaments whipped pom poms

For the final touch (and not in any particular order, just as I was waiting for glue and paint to dry), I painted a red line and swirl around the edge to make it look like a decorated mug. You can use green and make a holly or even use a gold leaf paint pen! Whatever suits your fancy!

hot cocoa ornaments polar express design

And there you have it! Hand-painted hot cocoa ornaments, done FIVE ways! Which one’s your favorite?


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