Origami Christmas Ornaments

Upcycle old Christmas cards and ribbon to make these tiny origami boxes to deliver gifts, decorate the tree and more.

| November/December 2015

  • Use these upcycled holiday card boxes to package tiny gifts, decorate your tree or build homemade advent calendars.
    Photo by Mother Earth Living staff

My grandma taught me how to make these small origami boxes when I was a little girl. A true child of the Depression Era, she saved everything—bread bags, twist ties, tin foil. You name it, she had it tucked away somewhere just waiting to be reused and Christmas cards were no exception. Each fall and early winter, we would spend hours folding and adorning these child-sized ornaments to prepare for the coming holiday, using my tiny fingers to hold bows in place and curl too-small ribbons. Or maybe it was just a good way to keep me occupied and entertained while we were cooped up inside.

It’s no secret to those who know me well, that I caught a little bit of her pack-rat fever and it’s always hard for me to say farewell to the fun, colorful and tinselly cards I receive from friends and family during the holidays. Throughout the season I tack each new arrival to a wall in our kitchen (another Grandma-taught tradition), creating a lovely collage to serve as a simple reminder of all the love in my life. But when the holidays end, and decorations are taken down, these small treasures wind up tucked away in a box or drawer somewhere out of sight, out of mind and, more than likely, totally forgotten.

This holiday craft is the perfect excuse to dig out those old, unused greeting cards from Christmases past and give them a new life! Similar to the collage I like to make, turning old cards into homemade ornaments for the tree allows me to appreciate them and their sentiments for years to come.

If you don’t have a ton of holiday greeting cards ferreted away, consider using other thoughtful cards instead. Birthday, holiday or special occasion cards your children have given you over the years; anniversary cards you and your partner have exchanged; or any other cards you’ve kept as a special keepsake from your loved ones will work just as well.

If you’re feeling extra-creative consider placing small gifts, such as candy, inside each box. Or if you’re very much into crafting and more dexterous than most, make small trinkets or teeny-tiny DIY projects to go inside the ornaments. Allow your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, or family friends to remove one ornament during their holiday visit or on Christmas Eve (if you don’t exchange gifts that day).

What you’ll need:

• Scissors
• Old holiday cards, greeting cards, or plain or printed cardstock
• Holiday-colored curling ribbon* (red, blue, green, gold, silver, etc)
• Ruler or measuring tape
• Old, not-too-sharp, paring knife (optional)
• Sophisti wrap (optional)
• Tape (optional)

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