This ornament is inspired by the Victorian tradition of hanging gilded walnuts on a tree, each holding a special fortune in its empty shell. When friends come calling, have them choose a walnut to crack apart, revealing your best wishes for the coming year.
To open each walnut, slide the tip of the sharp knife into the top of the shell (there's usually a small space there) and twist the blade so that the nut begins to split (a parent's job). Continue to push the knife gently into the seam until you can cleanly break the halves apart. (Have extra walnuts on hand as a few may break unevenly.)
Have your kids clean the meat out of the shell halves with a butter knife or skewer. Paint the outside of the shells gold and set them aside to dry.
Write hopes for the coming year, such as "love" or "wealth," on small strips of paper, roll them into scrolls, and tie them with the ribbon.
For each hanger, cut a 5-inch length of ribbon and glue it as shown to the top inside edge of a shell half. Place a scroll inside and glue the halves back together with a very thin bead of glue. Firmly press the walnut halves together for about 15 seconds, then allow the glue to dry before hanging the ornament on the tree. Guests can break open the walnuts with a nutcracker or hammer.