Paper Trees: A Family Friendly Holiday Craft

Make a paper tree decoration with an old book and a kitchen skewer. Family Friendly!

I have a bunch of old books lying around the house. It would be easy to drop them off at the local thrift store, but truth be told, not many people buy books these days. The interwebs give us plenty of reading material. So as I searched online for ways to recycle the books into crafts, I found a nifty tutorial for making a tree from books.

A paper tree made from an old dictionary that I bought at the thrift store.

This tutorial served as a great foundation for what I did with the paper and skewers that were suggested for the project. I have been working away at this thick dictionary for nearly 2 years, using it for all kinds of projects. The pages have served well as drop cloths when glue is involved, and work well for wrapping paper, as well as box stuffing. Even with all of its many uses, it seems this dictionary never runs out of paper.

I bought this dictionary to use in my classroom. It was 25 cents from the “teacher’s thrift store” and has lasted for many projects.

I started making the tree by pulling out 9 sheets of paper at a time and cutting them into squares. I started by making 6″ squares and decreased by a half inch for each round. (pictured below to avoid confusion) My squares were cut using a pinking blade. If you have pinking shears, it does add a nice effect, but it is just for fancy. Not at all necessary.

While you’re cutting, you will also need a bunch of stiff cardboard or cardstock cut into various sizes of squares to serve as supports between the layers. I used some cardstock that had been printed on, but was not usable, so that is what went into this project. No waste for the win!

Use cardstock or cardboard pieces to separate the layers of the tree. Cut into random size squares.

The next step was to create a base that would hold the tree. There just happened to be a pizza box waiting for trash day by the kitchen bin. I tore off the greaseless side of the lid and cut it into smaller pieces. These pieces were stacked with hot glue to form a base. A bamboo (cooking) skewer was inserted into the base. I was sure to secure the top and bottom with plenty of glue.

The first layer of the tree will be a piece of the square cardstock. I recommend using a larger size piece to hold up the “branches” of the tree.

Begin stacking with a piece of square cardboard or cardstock to hold up the tree “branches”

Crumple up 9 pieces of the 6″ paper squares. Crumple them up and roll them around between your palms to really get them into a tight ball. This might be a good job for a child! Then, carefully unfold the crumpled paper and lightly smooth with your hands.

Crumple the squares of paper and

Put three of them on the skewer, by piercing the center of the paper and pushing it to the bottom of the skewer, gently (try not to smush them together). Alternate the position of the squares to create staggered “branches.”

After three square of paper, put on a small square of cardboard or cardstock. This will prevent the paper from weighing down, and give some lightness between the layers. Keep stacking the squares, until all sizes have been utilized; work from largest to smallest for best results.

Place 3 layers of paper on the skewer, followed by a small square of cardboard or cardstock. This will give the tree some support.

For this tree, I stacked nine of each sized square. That equates to three layers of three papers, each of the same size, for each round. Did you get that? Lol. Here’s the bottom line: every three papers, put in a cardboard. As I did this project, I found the best way to keep track of layers was to take a particular size square and crumple nine at a time.

As the paper squares become smaller, use smaller pieces of cardboard or cardstock between the layers of three papers.

Keep stacking the papers until all the paper sizes have been used. There will be a small length of naked skewer at the top. This can be cut off and topped with a glued crumple of paper to give a holiday-neutral tree. For a Christmas decoration, try gluing a felt star to the top.

Trim the leftover skewer, or top the tree like any other Christmas tree.

This is a great project for kids. The cutting and stacking the paper is a lesson in math! Ask them to calculate how many papers were used, or how many layers were created with squares of cardstock. The crumpling and smoothing of paper is a great exercise in fine motor skills development. The smaller the square of paper, the more difficult it is to uncrumple without tearing it.

The smaller the paper square the more difficult it is to uncrumple and smooth without tearing. Great for fine motor skills development.
A paper tree made from an old dictionary.

Buy the kit here (while supplies last):

https://www.etsy.com/listing/903647578/paper-tree-craft-kit

See a video tutorial here:

Published by lessismorelifestyle

Do you like saving money and learning new skills? Less is More Lifestyle focuses on crafting projects and recipes that save money!

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