I fell in love with this idea the moment I saw it on Family Fun website.This is really a Christmas ornament that is from a Victorian tradition of hanging gilded walnuts on a tree, each holding a special fortune in its empty shell. When the appropiate time rolls around, have everyone choose a walnut to crack apart, revealing fortunes for the coming year. For this reason, thought it would make a wonderful New Year's Eve or New Year's Day activity.
To make these ornaments, you first need to crack whole walnuts open without breaking them, which can be a little tricky. We put them in a pan on our woodstove for about a half hour and this made them much easier to open without breakage. If you do not have a woodstove, you can use your oven. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place your whole walnuts in a shallow oven proof pan, single layer. Roast walnuts for about 30-40 minutes. Cool walnuts till you are comfortable holding them. Carefully slip the blade of a narrow bladed steak knife (non-serrated edge) into the stem end of the walnut. Work the blade down through the meat.
Gently but firmly start to work the blade around the natural split, being very careful not to force the knife, because you don't want to cause it to slip, and, you know, cause you cut yourself. Clear out the meats, and you have walnut halves!
Now that you have your walnut halves, clean the meat out of the shell halves with a butter knife or skewer. Paint the outside of the shells, if you wish, and set them aside to dry. Write out good fortunes for the coming year, such as "love" or "health" on small strips of paper, roll them into scrolls, and tie them with the ribbon.If your tree is still up you can hang them on the tree for them to find. Make hangers by cutting a 5-inch length of ribbon for each walnut and gluing it to the top inside edge of a shell half. If your tree is not still up, you can just put the finished walnuts in a bowl as a centerpiece for your New Year's Eve or New Year's Day dinners. 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 . When you are ready, they each can break open the walnuts with a nutcracker or hammer.