Orange slice ornaments are a traditional winter holiday craft for kids and adults of all ages–use the instructions below to make your own natural sun wheel ornaments for the Yule or Christmas Tree!
Dried orange slice ornaments are a traditional winter holiday craft that kids and adults can make. Also known as sun wheel ornaments or sun wheels–orange slice ornaments are naturally beautiful, give off a delightfully sweet and joyful fragrance, and add a natural rustic touch to any holiday decorations.
Dehydrated orange slice ornaments are a traditional holiday craft often made to decorate for the winter solstice and Christmas. So, you will often see them hanging on Yule Trees, Christmas trees, garlands, wreaths, and other holiday decorations worldwide.
Orange slice Christmas ornaments are super easy to make, but they take a bit of time. So, be sure to read through the instructions for drying oranges and making sun wheel ornaments before you get started–so you know what to expect. You might also enjoy this list of homemade Christmas Ornaments kids can help make.
How to Make Orange Slice Christmas Ornaments
Oranges and other citrus fruits are traditionally dried or dehydrated and used to make orange slice solstice decorations and dried orange Christmas ornaments in several ways. Because there are so many variables involved, this tutorial consists of two parts how to dry oranges for ornaments and how to make dried orange slice ornaments–with one complete step-by-step tutorial at the end.
First, we explain how to dry oranges in the oven, along with our best tips on how to bake orange slices. Next, we show you how to make dried orange slice ornaments with freshly dehydrated oranges and other citrus fruits. And, we make it easy with the step-by-step ornament craft tutorial and orange drying tips below.
Related Post: Squeeze Fresh Orange Juice: Montessori Practical Life Activity
Orange Slice Ornaments Baking and Craft Supplies
- Oranges or other citrus fruits (Cooking times may vary–see instructions)
- Cutting board
- Parchment paper
- Cookie sheet
- Ribbon, bakers twine, natural jute twine, monofilament line, or craft wire
- Small multicolored craft bows or red satin bows (optional)
You might also need an embroidery needle with a large eye, depending on how you make your dried orange slices into ornaments and other decorations. Read through the instructions below for more information.
How to Dry Oranges for Ornaments
To make DIY orange slice ornaments, you must first dehydrate or dry out the oranges. Follow the simple instructions below to learn how to dry oranges for your holiday decorations and Christmas ornaments.
But, please be aware that dehydrating oranges for ornaments is not an exact science. And, there can be a lot of differences in the time required to dry different varieties, shapes, and sizes of oranges and other citrus fruits out entirely. For best results, read through our tips on drying oranges for ornaments.
Related post: Citrus Printing Process Art
How to Dry Orange Slices for Ornaments
To dry oranges to make ornaments, you must first cut them into slices. Use a kitchen knife to cut oranges, or another citrus fruit, into pieces about one-quarter inch thick. Use a dishtowel to gently pat citrus slices dry and then leave them out to dehydrate for 12 to 48 hours before putting them in the oven to bake–if you have the time.
This optional step can help decrease cooking time and allow the citrus slices to help them retain their sunny golden and bright orange colors. While cooking them in the range decreases total preparation time, the orange slice ornaments often appear darker in color.
Next, place them onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, and put them in a low heat oven, no more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, for several hours to dry. Please read through the list of orange drying tips below for the best results!
My daughter and I have spent a lot of time drying oranges to make citrus slice ornaments, and we’ve learned a lot of things about what to do–and what not to do–when drying oranges over the last several years. So, if you’re wondering how to dry oranges for ornaments–have a look at the tips below before getting started.
Our best advice? Don’t forget that they are in the oven. Set a timer every 30 minutes to an hour to check them if you have to. It may seem simple, but drying oranges for ornaments can be a long slow process, and it’s easier than you think to forget about them. I have done it more than once over the years.
Related: DIY Christmas Ornaments
Drying Oranges for ornaments: Best Tips and Tricks
- Citrus fruits of all kinds–oranges, mandarines, grapefruits, lemons, and limes–can be made into dried citrus slice ornaments. But because of the difference in their size and moisture level–cooking times can radically vary. Experiment and have fun!
- Gently pat citrus slices with a towel to dry them out before putting them into the oven to dehydrate. Be sure to flip them over to get as much moisture as you can out of both sides.
- Remove more of the moisture from the orange slices by placing them on a towel to dry, and covering them with another dishtowel. Employing this method also seems to help decrease total drying time in the oven.
- Orange slices require less time to bake in the oven when they are left out to dry for a while before putting them into the oven. If you have time, set citrus fruit slices aside and allow them to dehydrate for 12 to 48 hours before putting them into a low heat oven to cook.
- Set a timer to turn them every 30 to 60 minutes or so, and cook them until they are a dark golden yellow color–they may not be dehydrated entirely, but they will dry out over time. If you leave them in the oven too long, they can turn dark brown, which is not terrible, but it is not ideal.
- If you notice that they are getting too brown or burnt, take the orange slices out of the oven immediately, and allow the citrus slices to finish dehydrating outside of the oven.
- Once you take the sliced oranges out of the oven they usually need a few more days to dry out. Baked orange slices often need more than the time it takes to cook them to dehydrate completely. However, they can be made into orange slice ornaments and crafts as soon as they are firm enough to thread a ribbon or wire through.
- Once the orange slices are dried out or dehydrated, string them into garlands, attach them to Christmas wreaths, or make them into sun wheel ornaments with the step-by-step craft instructions in the next section.
How to Make Dried Orange Slice Ornaments
Next, it’s time to turn the dried citrus slices into rustic orange slice Christmas ornaments. The instructions below include the steps mentioned in “how to dry oranges” from the section above. And, we also have an abbreviated set of orange slice ornament instructions that you can print below.
Step 1 – Cut Oranges into Slices
- Cut oranges into slices about 1/4 inch thick with a kitchen knife.
Step 2 – Dehydrate Orange SLices
Use the tips and instructions in the section above to learn how to dry orange slices for ornaments. A basic outline of steps follows:
- After slicing them, gently pat them dry with a dish towel and allow orange slices to dry for 12 to 48 hours. This optional step can help start the drying process, and decrease total cooking time, once they are put in the oven to dehydrate.
- Next, place orange slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Bake in a low-heat oven no more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 to 8 hours.
- Check and flip orange slices as they bake in the oven every 30 to 60 minutes.
- Take orange slices out of the oven if they start to get too brown or burnt, and allow them to dehydrate outside of the oven for the next few days.
The best part about drying oranges in the oven is the deliciously sweet smell of them wafting through the house as they bake and dehydrate.
Step 3 – Use Dried Orange Slices to Make Christmas Crafts
You can use dried orange slices to make ornaments to hang on the Yule or Christmas tree and of other different kinds of winter crafts. If you would like to make an ornament hanger for your dried orange slice ornaments, follow the steps in the next section.
- String dried citrus slices with ribbon or twine to make a simple garland.
- Use twine, monofilament line or craft wire to attach dried orange slices to wreaths and other winter solstice or Christmas crafts.
- Thread dehyrated orange slices on onto a section of twine or ribbon to make an ornament hanger. Have a look at the instruction in the next section for the complete DIY.
How to Make Orange Slice Ornament Hangers:
- Cut a 4 to 12-inch section of ribbon, bakers or jute twine, monofilament line, craft wire, etc.
- Thread one side of the ribbon, twine, string, or wire through each dried orange slice–or another piece of citrus fruit–to create an ornament hanger for each orange slice.
- Either poke a small hole just below the peel with a knife, and then thread the ribbon through it–or use a large eye sewing needle.
- First, thread the 4-12 inch section of ribbon or twine through the large eye of the sewing needle.
- Next, punch the needle through the flesh sack of the orange slice (or another type of citrus fruit) just under the peel. Then, pull the ribbon through the dried orange and remove the sewing needle.
- Tie the ribbon or twine together so that it creates a simple hanger for the orange slice ornament.
How to Add a Small Bow To Orange Slice Ornaments
This last step is optional. Adding a small bow can give the orange slices the appearance of a small Christmas wreath with a bow, but it is not necessary. Follow the simple instructions below to add a bow to each orange slice ornament, or leave them as-is for a natural rustic look.
- Use craft wire to tie a lightweight Christmas bow and fix it in place towards the bottom or the top of the orange slice.
- Miniature bows are easy to assemble, convenient to store, and simple to take out of the orange slices and put away after Christmas to be reused again next year. Or, use them to make Valentine’s Day and Saint Patrick’s Day crafts next.
DIY Orange Slice Ornaments FAQ’s
Orange slice sun wheel ornaments are a traditional winter solstice and Christmas craft. Learn more about these sunny citrus crafts with the FAQs (frequently asked questions) below!
How Long do Dried Oranges Last?
Orange slices will last approximately two years when dried and stored correctly. If any moisture remains, they can develop mold and rot, so be sure that orange slices are completely dehydrated before putting them away for next winter. They can darken a bit in storage, but the orange slices we made last year still smell as sweet and fragrant as the day we created them.
What do Oranges Have to do with the Solstice and Christmas?
Oranges are an ancient symbol for the sun–which becomes more present after the winter solstice when the days grow longer. Oranges stimulate merrymaking during the darkest time of the year and bring us love, prosperity, and sweet & happy life.
Why do people hang dried orange slices?
Because they symbolize the sun and the returning light, dried orange slices are often strung together to make garlands, placed into evergreen wreaths, and hung upon the Yule or Christmas Tree to decorate during the winter holiday season.
Why Do People Put Orange Slices on Their Christmas Tree?
Oranges are a traditional gift for Yule, and as mentioned above, people hang orange slices on the Christmas, Yule, or winter solstice tree to represent the birth of the sun and the return of the light.
Why are Orange Slice Ornaments Called Sun Wheels?
A Sun Wheel is a circle with an equal-armed cross within it. Also known as a Sun Cross, Solar Cross, Wheel Cross, Pagan Cross, Woden’s Cross, and Odin’s Cross, it is an ancient spiritual symbol found in many pre-historic cultures worldwide.
The cross inside the Sun Wheel divides the circle into four equal parts and represents the solar calendar marked by the solstices and equinoxes and its four annual seasons. The sun wheel is also said to symbolize the four elements and the four cardinal directions–East, West, North, and South. Learn more about the sun wheel symbol, what it stands for, and its early origins HERE–> Ancient Symbols.
HomemAde Orange Slice Sun Wheel Ornaments
Drying oranges for ornaments is easy, but it does take some time. The good news is that you can do other things as you wait for them to dry, just don’t forget about them in the oven.
First, gather the materials you need from the baking and craft supply list above. Next, follow the simple instructions to turn them into dehydrated orange slice ornaments. And finally, string these sunny little rustic ornaments together to make a garland, add them to evergreen wreaths, or use them to decorate your winter solstice, Yule, or Christmas tree, or give them away as gifts to family and friends.
We hope you enjoy the sweet smell of oranges wafting through the house during the long dark days of winter as they bake in the oven as much as we do. You might also enjoy using oranges and other citrus fruits to make art prints and gifts. Learn how here–>Citrus Printing Process Art.
Be sure to also have a look at winter solstice traditions and Christmas celebration ideas for even more fun ideas. Happy holidays!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play–> HERE.
More Homemade Ornament Crafts
- Homemade Christmas Ornaments Kids Can Make
- Rustic Acorn Marble Ornaments
- Beaded Snowflake Ornaments
- Snowman Ornaments
- Angel Ornaments
- Baby Jesus Ornaments
- Snowman Head Ornaments
- Christmas Tree Twig Ornaments
More Christmas Ideas
- Gifts for Mom That Will Put You in the Good Book
- Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make
- Handmade Christmas Card Ideas
- Fingerprint Lights Christmas Tree Cards
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