Christmas Countdown Craft: Tri-Bead Ornaments

My daughter was thrilled when I suggested that we make Candy Cane bead ornaments for our second day of Christmas activity.  We had made these several times when she was younger. I love making bead ornaments, in part because I remember making them when I was a child. As a matter of fact, when I got married, my mom gave me a couple candy canes and wreaths that I had made when I was a Girl Scout and they are hanging on our tree. One thing that I love about this craft is it can be done by a wide variety of ages. I can’t remember when we started making these, but I think it was right before my daughter turned 4 (January birthday). This year, I decided to shake it up and try a snowman bead ornament in addition to the wreath and the candy cane bead ornaments.

Christmas Countdown Tri-Bead Ornaments

I love this craft for several reasons. The craft is useful as a tree ornament, or as a decoration on a gift, gift-bag, or gift tray so I don’t have to worry about throwing it away or keeping a million of them.  There is no mess – well as long as you don’t spill the bead container. The materials are also very simple – pipe cleaners and tri-beads. They are easy to pack up and take with us. Yesterday my daughter made them in a coffee shop and in the waiting room at her doctor’s before her physical. I bought a huge bag of red, white, and green pipe cleaners and a combo bag of red, white, and green tri-beads. We are running low on pipe cleaners now, but have plenty of beads left.


Tri-bead ornaments are great for preschoolers with the hand-eye co-ordination of stringing beads and forming patterns of the simple ornaments with some guidance. At age 4, I just needed to start the first bead for my daughter and she could make a candy cane by herself. For older children, they still enjoy the stringing of beads, and are able to create more complex ornaments.

Candy Cane Tri-Bead Ornaments Instructions:

  • Cut a 12″ Pipe Cleaner in half
  • Thread a tri-bead on one end and wrap the end of the stem around it.
  • Alternate Red and White beads until you reach the end
  • Wrap the end of the stem around the last bead
    Christmas Countdown Tri-Bead Ornaments Candy Cane Straight
  • Bend the Strand into candy cane shape

We have used both white and red pipe cleaners for the candy cane. Start with a bead the same color as the pipe cleaner. We have made candy canes with alternating white and red as well as ones that include green or have alternate patterns (such as two whites, two reds).

Christmas Countdown Tri-Bead Ornaments Candy Cane Finished

Wreath Tri-Bead Ornaments Instructions:

There are a few ways that you can make wreaths. When I made wreaths as a child, we used the entire pipe cleaner to form the circle and decorated with a ribbon bow. However, I am now making them using the pipe cleaner to create a bead bow.


  • Select a 12″ Pipe Cleaner, preferably the color of your desired bow.
  • Thread green beads on in the middle of the pipe cleaner leaving about 1.5″ at each end
  • If you wish periodically intersperse red or white beads to represent flowers on the wreath.
  • Add 1 beads in the bow color to each end
    Christmas Countdown Tri-Bead Ornaments Wreath - U-shaped
  • Twist the two ends together forming a circle
    Christmas Countdown Tri-Bead Ornaments Wreath Circle
  • Add bow colored beads to each end and wrap the ends around the last bead – trimming if desired.
  • Instead of adding beads to the bow ends, you could also use the pipe cleaners to make a looped bow.
Christmas Countdown Tri-Bead Ornaments Wreath Finished

Snowman Tri-Bead Ornaments Instructions:

  • Start with a white 12″ pipe cleaner
  • At one end add 10 colored beads to form the snowman’s scarf. My daughter chose to alternate green and red to give him a striped scarf
    Christmas Countdown Tri-Bead Ornaments Snowman Scarf
  • Then add white beads until you have enough to form the bottom loop of the snowman. Create a gap where you want the loop to cross over. Cross over leaving two beads in the circle to represent the scarf around the neck
    Christmas Countdown Tri-Bead Ornaments Snowman - Bottom Loop
  • Add white beads to the remaining pipe cleaner end leaving 1/8″ at the end.
  • Wrap the remaining 1/8″  around the pipe cleaner on the bottom loop (between the scarf and white beads to form the top loop. Reshape to make both loops circular.
Christmas Countdown Tri-Bead Ornaments Snowman Finished

Other Bead Ornament Ideas

Other ornament ideas are snowflakes, trees, and reindeer. You would need to use brown beads to make the reindeer. What do you think? Have you made tri-bead ornaments before? Do you have other ideas of ornament shapes that you can make?

1 thought on “Christmas Countdown Craft: Tri-Bead Ornaments”

  1. Brenda Radolovic

    Can you send me the pattern to make a tri-bead tree? I gave done thecwreaths, candy canes, snowflakes, but would love a new tri bead project to throw in the mix. Do you have any other cute tri bead project patterns you could share. My kids and I need some fresh simple crafts.

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