Holiday Chemistry

We’re revisiting one of our most popular Web updates: holiday chemistry. Prepare a chemistry-related ornament for your own tree or for a classroom “chemis-tree,” or try other holiday science fun such as marbling paper for gift wrap, singing a chemistry carol, or deciding if you’d like to eat a “variegated disaccharide ‘J’ tube.” 

Chemis-trees   |   Ornaments   |   Holiday Experiments   |   Fun with Food   |   More Holiday Fun


  • Lab Equipment Chemis-tree
    Ring stands? Utility clamps? Erlenmeyer flasks? Test tubes? No, they’re chemis-tree ornaments!
  • Chemis-tree Ornament
    Decorating a chemis-tree doesn’t have to be just a filler activity. See how one teacher uses it as a classroom assignment.
  • A Chemical Christmas Tree
    Even “grown-up” chemists can get into decorating a chemis-tree. Check out this research center’s trees.
  • Chemistry Christmas Tree Video
    Got a molecular model kit? You’re ready to put together a chemis-tree ornament! Find out which favorite compounds made the cut for this tree.
  • Christmas Tree Elephant Toothpaste
    The elephant toothpaste demo goes green—Christmas-tree-green, that is. Learn how to color and shape the demo’s foam to look like holiday greenery.
A chemis-tree made up of Erlenmeyer Bulb flasks filled with different colored liquids
Ballard High School, Louisville, KY


Holiday Lights
  • Redox Ornament
    Kick off the holidays at the hardware store? Yes! Start with a sheet of galvanized iron, finish with a unique copper-plated ornament.
  • Silvered Test Tube Ornament
    Test tubes aren’t just for the lab anymore—they’re for the tree too. Silver the inside of the glass using redox reactions, add a ribbon, and it’s ready to go.
  • Borax Snowflake Ornament
    Don’t buy your ornaments—grow them yourself instead! All it takes is borax, water, pipe cleaners, and a little time.
  • Christmas Bulb Chromatography Ornaments
    “Deck the hall with bulbs of color. Fa la la la la la la la la. Made with ink and a solvent water. Fa la la la la la la la la.”
  • Elements Cubed
    It’s elements—cubed! Check out this Etsy store for an ornament idea. See what each clear and colorless cube-shaped ornament contains.

Holiday Experiments

  • Case #1225: Case of the Christmas Cookie Mystery
    Help out the North Pole Bureau of Investigations by identifying the mixed-up white powders Mrs. Claus needs to bake her sugar cookies.
  • Magic Crystal Christmas Tree
    “Grow” a small chemical tree using this variation on the classic charcoal crystal garden.
  • The Littlest Christmas Tree
    Create a tiny Christmas tree with beautiful silver branches—all on a microscope slide.
  • Poinsettia pH Paper
    Tired of plain old pH paper? Make your own (holiday style!) using a solution made from poinsettia plants.
  • Crystal Frost Window Paint
    Either Jack Frost came to visit, or you’ve found this recipe for crystal frost window paint. Grab some Epsom salt and get started!
  • Snow Globe Lab
    Making a snow globe is a great way to learn about solubility! Who knew? Try this lab and make your own.

Snow globes connected to science? It’s true! Take a look at this ACS Bytesize video and make a snow globe stick, marbleized gift card, and more.

Fun with Food

Peanut Brittle

More Holiday Fun

What’s the science behind those white, fluffy flakes? Learn all about it, in just two minutes!

(all sites accessed November 2013)