Crafting with Kids: Paper Garlands

by Tania Willis

We all know that making paper garlands are a fabulous way to put those punches to use and dwindle down your pile of paper scraps. And, we all know that they are perfect for adding a little oomph to any party décor, but have you ever thought of what else you could use them for?

Here in my house we use paper garlands on occasion in very traditional way, but I sat down with my girls during a hot early-summer day and together we came up with a number of uses for these paper garlands that you may not have thought of.

So gather your squeeze punches, your lever punches, your handheld punches and your basket of paper scraps and get punching so you can put some of these ideas to use the next time the summer heat has you and the children feeling like you're going to melt!

Here's some alternative uses...give them a try!

  • Use them in place of a paper chain to countdown a big upcoming event like a countdown to the first day of vacation.
  • Tuck a small one into a greeting card to brighten someone's day.
  • Dangle a few of them inside a picture frame.
  • String them together and hang from the top of a doorframe.
  • Tuck one in a suitcase for a child heading to summer camp to decorate their bunk.
  • Use them to spell out a message like "CONGRATULATIONS" or "thank you" by stamping the message on your stitched garland, and then tuck it inside a card.

When crafting garlands with young children you can use the opportunity to teach them about colors, patterns, and even about sorting by size and shape.

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Older children can be taught how to take basic punched shapes and turn them into other shapes with a few minor adjustments. With just a few simple notches cut from the Seal of Approval Punch, you can create sunrays as shown in the Rainbow Garland.

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Garlands can be strung together in a matter of minutes by running the pieces through a sewing machine on one long continuous stitch. Simply start by placing the first piece under the presser foot, put the needle in the down position and start stitching. Continue stitching, allowing the machine to stitch a few stitches between each new punched piece.

If you don't have a sewing machine, you can still create a garland by sandwiching a single long thread in between two identical punched pieces using a hi-tack double-sided adhesive.

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Star Garland is not only appropriate for celebrating holidays like Memorial Day and Independence Day, but with just a few adjustments in color selection, you can change this garland to be suitable for any kind of celebration including birthdays, graduation, retirement, and even Christmas. I personally think it would look darling with soft yellows strung in the corner of a baby's nursery.

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Making one very long continuous garland makes stringing rows very simple. Just start with a small hanging streamer on one end and tack one punched pieced at the uppermost point. Then drape the garland back and forth allowing more slack with each row. Finally, end with another hanging streamer on the other side to balance it out. The garland is very easy to wrap up onto a piece of chipboard (i.e. recycled cereal box) and put away for the next celebration.

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Need a quick pick-me-up to cheer that neighbor who's feeling blue? Send her a garland of flowers pulled together with some happy colors of cardstock. She won't have to worry about changing the water or these flowers wilting away and they will surely put a smile on her face.

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You can take a little care by adding some dimensional items to the flowers to give your garland that extra touch of detail. After your paper garland is stitched together, you can do so by adding items, such as: brads, buttons, rhinestones, or glitter. Glue dots are the perfect adhesive to be sure you have a strong bond between embellishment and your paper garland.

Happy garland making!

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