Paper garland

I am getting pretty excited about decorating my house for Christmas. Oh the crafty possibilties! I saw this post on How About Orange this morning and thought these paper ball ornaments would look pretty great strung together to make a garland. It seems like a nifty update on traditional paper chains, which I also love.  All white would be quite sophisticated, but it’s hard to pass up the chance to use some pretty colored paper. For those people who save wrapping paper, this would be a great way to use up some of your stash. I plan to get my little elf to help me. Stay tuned for the finished garland!

Origami Ties for Great Guys

A few reasons why I love my dad:

1. Sometime in my twenties, he decided he didn’t need a special occasion to pick up the phone and call his kids. He calls whenever he feels like it, just to say hello.

2. He’s the kind of grandfather who volunteered to change diapers. Now he gets down on the floor and digs into the LEGO bin alongside his grandkids.

3. Every year, he dresses up as Kate Smith for the Fourth of July parade and sings “God Bless America” in falsetto, very, very badly.

In case these reasons make him seem like he’s not a high-achieving, productive member of society, let me assure you: he’s also that.

So for this Father’s Day, I’m giving him the most original gift . . . a necktie! But this one is made of paper, is 2-inches tall, and is completely impractical. Which makes it more original.

 I learned to fold an origami necktie at the web site, Origami Club, which offers a mad assortment of origami projects with step-by-step animated instructions. The animation doesn’t necessarily illuminate some of those tricky, ever-elusive folds, but it’s cool.

Have you always wanted to fold a spotted toadstool? (Origami Club calls it by its proper name–“fly agaric”–and helpfully points out that it’s a poisonous mushroom. In case you plan to eat your origami? I don’t know.)

I love this Japanese school bag & this polka-dot dress, too.

But back to neckties: I used 2″ origami paper, but you can also use other paper and cut out a 2″ square. Make sure to use paper that is appropriately garish–who wants a tasteful tie for Father’s Day?

The trickiest fold is the tie knot–first, you fold a little triangle up, and then reverse the fold, so that the triangle is now inside the knot. You’ll know what I’m talking about when you try it. Then glue your tie to a blank card (I chose mustard-colored stationery from PaperSource) and press.

If this cute card isn’t enough to please your dad, follow up with a homemade coupon good for 1 hug.

Paper Rollercosters

This paper craft for kids comes straight from one of my favorite museums: the Peabody Essex in Salem, Mass. Yes, it has an amazing Asian art and Maritime art collection (including a room-size model of the S.S. Queen Elizabeth, which never fails to impress us). But sometimes we go just to hang out in the sunny atrium designed by architect Moshe Safdie, admire the sky, and pretend it’s not 4 degrees outside.

The paper rollercoaster craft (offered as part of the PEM’s “Eye Spy, Playing with Perception” exhibit through May) had the qualities of a good kids’ project: simple enough for little guys to enjoy and interesting enough to engage bigger kids. Plus you probably have all the stuff you need right in your house: glue sticks, strips of colored paper, and a piece of paper for a base.

Dab one end of a paper strip and press to the base. Twist, bend, or loop–then glue the other end and press. 

    My 10-year-old made his rollercoaster a continuous circuit. My five-year-old’s design defied the laws of physics, but he thought it looked really cool.


 On the way home, we drove by the Salem harbor,

 and it was winter again.

Bugs from recycled bits

Here’s a mantra to repeat to yourself when doing crafts with kids: process, not product. It will turn you into the craft whisperer. Especially if your child (like mine) swirls paints and blends play dough until each art work takes on the brackish hue and glurpy consistency of a murky bog.

Making bugs from bits collected from the recycling bin ended up to be a good project for everyone in my house, plus some friends. And the end results (not that I would be so superficial as to care, dear craft whisperer) were kind of cute. Plastic milk caps, bread tags, paper clips, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, ribbon, and scraps of paper turned into an pleasant infestation of creepy crawlies.

Washi tape

I put this sherbet-y assortment of washi tape on my Christmas list, and I’m sorry to say that despite a vigorous campaign of hinting, no one got the message. So, I will just mention it here.

I don’t know what I’ll do with it. I may just build a tape tower on my desk and look at it for a while. I first spotted it in the MOMA store (for a roll of ten, $30, $24 for MOMA members), but it’s also available at happy tape in polka dots & plaids. Not that you have to get it for me, but you could. . .