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Make Decorative Balls on the Cheap

21 August 2009 128,072 views 28 Comments

by heather


I got an urgent message from one of my readers, Jessica H. with a request/challenge for all my creative Dollar Store Crafting readers out there:

I love those decorative ball thingies you can buy all over the place now.  They come in all different styles (mirrored, raffia-covered, floral, etc.) and you put them in pretty bowls and they serve no purpose whatsoever but to sit there and be pretty.  I have looked all over, but the cheapest that I could find them anywhere was something like $8 for 3 which is still too much to pay for something that is for all intents and purposes useless.  But I still want some.  I have racked my brain trying to figure out a way to make some of my own, but I haven't come up with anything.  There might be tutorials out there on the internet, but I am too scared to Google "DIY decorative balls" if you know you what I mean.

Okay, maybe it's not urgent exactly, but it is a request.

Lucky for Jessica, I actually stumbled across a tutorial for making twine-covered decorative balls this week. The tutorial is over at V and Co., and shows you how to color the twine and wrap it around the styrofoam balls. Found via U create. [click here for instructions on how to do this project]

The tutorial doesn't mention any dollar store supplies, but I happen to know you can pick up styrofoam balls and twine at the dollar store, among other supplies like raffia, etc.

Project Estimate:

  • Styrofoam balls, $1 (for 3-6 balls)
  • Twine, $1
  • Spray paint, optional, on hand or about $3
  • Hot glue, on hand

Total: $1 and up per ball

You can mix this project up to fit your own tastes in decor. For instance, I found these variants on the theme in an internet search:


Wood Slice (Retail: $7.99): Just cut up slices of some small branches and hot glue them to the balls.


Various Natural Materials (Retail: $47.94 for 8): Glue pine cone pieces, bay leaves, and other natural components onto balls.

shell-ballPorcelain Shell (Retail: $72.50): Obviously you can't make this out of porcelain (well, maybe YOU can, but I can't), but you can get the look with real shells and some acrylic paint and lacquer. I might cover the styrofoam ball with papier-mache first and paint it dark blue if I was trying to get this exact look.


And I found this in the Dollar Store Crafts archive, which I think would be an awesome modern take on the decorative ball: Thumbtack Armored Ball (just omit the ornament-hanging loop).


I also like these Temari-inspired thread-covered balls, also found in the Dollar Store Crafts archive.

I hope this gets you started, Jessica! And if anyone else has made some of these decorative balls or has a good dollar store idea for them, let me know!

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  • Jessica H. said:

    ((in my best Wayne and Garth imitation)) I am not worthy! I am not worthy!

    Thank you so much. I am going out to the store TODAY and making myself a whole mess of these.

  • Carrie said:

    I know my dollar store sells 1 lb bags of those flat sided glass marbles. I bet they would be gorgeous glued to a styrofoam ball.

  • Dot said:

    You sure are resourceful. Look how many types you found! And all easy to make.

  • Lindsey said:

    These are great! Thanks for the ideas.

    I received a decorative ball from a student once. It was made with straight pins, sequins, and seed beads. You push the pin through a bead, then through the center of the sequin, then into the ball. Repeat a thousand times and it makes a really pretty, sparkly ball.

    I’ve never tried it, but I remember it, have kept it all these years, and think it makes a great gift, ornament, or just a sparkly ball amidst the others.

  • Paige said:

    I got crazy excited about that tutorial also! And I loved $2 petals bag on U create this morning too. It’s a great day for dollar store lovers!

  • The Activity Mom said:

    I’ve wrapped twine (different thicknesses) around a balloon using a ton of glue (mixed with a little water). The glue dries clear and then you pop the balloon. They look nice and natural in my bowl but they weren’t super sturdy like they would be on a styrofoam ball.

  • Michelle said:

    I made some years ago with the rag balls being all the rage for country decor. I took styrofoam balls and tore lengths of fabric of choice or scraps and glued one end on and just wrapped. They still look good even after my dogs have taken off with them on occasion:)

    Another idea would be to blow up a balloon and using string of any color with glue. Water glue down slightly and dip the string into it. Then just wrap around balloon. When it’s dry pop the balloon and you have a beautiful ball!

  • darkalice said:

    This also might be a great use for yarn or eep fun fur,My dollar store always has tons of fub fur which I personally detest but if you think it’s cute this could be fun

  • Lindalee said:

    Years ago my sister and I made Christmas ornaments using those styrofoam balls. You take scraps of fabric (any shape) and a small screwdriver (Like the one that comes with your sewing machine). Just tuck the fabric into the ball using the screwdriver, all along each edge. Lay another scrap of fabric on the “seam” and push that in until the whole ball is covered. It looks like a patchwork quilt ornament. We took felt string and created a nice loop to hang it. Use a dab of glue on a straight pin to hold it in the ball. I have also used cord. Wish I had a photo.

  • Katie said:

    If you’re like me you have a ton and a half of tennis balls just laying around your house from your dog. You could probobly hot glue the twine to those as well! Or go to an outdoor tennis court and find a plethora of them around the outside of the gated area.

  • Edda S. said:

    Just found this website from a google search. Lots of great ideas here! I’m bookmarking this now.

  • Silvia said:

    I picked up some styro balls at destash the other day. I don’t know why I picked them up, because I haven’t used them in years. I decided to try and make something with them and found your awesome entry. I wanted to share what I made. Here is my my versionof the request from your reader. I thought you might like it.

  • Anna-Marie said:

    I wish I still had pictures, but for my first place I had to do decorating on the cheap. My roommates had a coffee themed set of pictures for the dining room. So, I made a corresponding coffee themed set of covered styrofoam balls place in a bowl as a centerpiece. I took the balls and rolled them in modgepodge (glue works too) and then in cinnamon. Then, after that dried, I used hotglue/tacky glue to glue on whole coffee beans in a design I liked.

  • Shome Day said:

    i have done these with small food items, like beans & lentils. very cute! i cant wait to try the thumbtacks too!

  • Angela said:

    I was thinking earlier when I saw the “String Lamp” That you could make decorative balls using that method as well! I’d like to try it but don’t really need more to dust! :)

  • Melissa said:

    I love the thumbtack one! So brilliant. My grandma used to make those straight pins and sequin ornaments and sell them at church bazaars!

    I used decor balls on my walls:

  • Rebecca Ednie said:

    How about flower seeds or nuts? Pistachio shells would look cool as is or spray painted! Or dried flowers or just flower petals? Pom Poms might look cute for a kids room and I’ve also seen balls covered in gathered fabric or tulle that were awesome. Just use straight pins into foam balls to secure!

  • Josie said:

    You could always get dollar store socks and stuff the styrofoam balls in them. Not sure how to tie them off but it might look cute. :-)

  • Esther said:

    You could also use the styrofoam balls and some scrap fabric to make them into a pine cone shape. instructions can be found here http://crafting-dreams.blogspot.com/2011/04/fabric-pine-cone-mobile.html :)

  • Rebecca of the R&W Gals said:

    Great ideas! Love them!

    [email protected]

  • Amanda said:

    I have bazillions of fabric scraps and yarn scraps, so I save those up and use them as the center for decorative balls instead of Styrofoam. Wrapping them with bias tape looks good, particularly if you have vintage patterned tape or make your own. Also a fun way to use up little bits of sparkly or novelty yarn (I have a whole set of Xmas tree balls made from scrap yarn). If you crochet or knit, you can always display your yarn balls until you’re ready to use them. Why let pretty yarn languish in a dark drawer? :D I also have rag balls, but real ones (i.e. strips of fabric rolled up and waiting to be made into rag rugs…)

  • Becky said:

    I made some rag balls to add to my 4th of July decorations around my house. I found satin Christmas balls at my Goodwill and found some patriotic fabric at Walmart. I tore the fabric into strips and wrapped the satin balls. The balls are still sitting in a bowl in my china cabinet. I loved making them!!!

  • logan said:

    ok where did the thing come from that u put it in and what are they called i have looked every where and cant find them if u would please tell me lol :)

  • heather (author) said:

    I would call it a “cloche” but I really don’t know what it is! A little stick house? :)

  • kelly said:

    Great ideas! Love them!

  • Callie said:

    Great ideas, where can I find a container like that?

  • Carolyn said:

    Love these! I use ping pong balls (8 for $1) and wiffle balls (4 for $1) and use double-sided tape instead of a glue gun to attach natural colored twine to the ball. Then, I paint with craft paint for a variety of colors. Easy peasy and cheap. :)

  • heather (author) said:

    Great tip, Carolyn!