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Ellina Webb discusses how you and your family can create eco-friendly Christmas decorations using the Japanese art of origami.

As a fan of all things Japanese, incorporating some Japanese origami into my festive celebrations is extremely welcomed.

In fact, one of the best things about making your own origami is that you can tailor it to match your festive colour scheme, which if you change up yearly, will save you some significant cash.

In addition, origami can make good gifts, keep you busy and of course is easily recycled post-Christmas, as long as you do not use glitter!

Find ways to incorporate eco-friendly additions to your Christmas decorations this year

Ellina Webb Ellina Webb Marketing Services Manager

What is origami?

Origami derives from the Japanese words Ori (folding) and Kami (paper).

So literally, it means to fold paper, often a single sheet of paper into a sculpture without cutting, gluing or taping.

If the paper is to be cut then this is typically referred to as ‘kirigami’.

Nowadays origami is used across the world and traditionally, cultures such as Chinese have used folding paper for funerals and other ceremonies.

How to make origami

The basic origami techniques are valley and mountain folds, pleats, reverse folds, squash folds, crimp and sinks.

There is also a variety of bases that act as the start of different models.

Of course, paper folding and cutting doesn’t have to be limited to origami and kirigami, if you want to make basic eco-friendly decorations, cutting snowflakes and making paper chains are still just as effective (plus it’s a little easier to make!).

But if like me, you want to challenge yourself to some serious origami style fun, here are a few of my favourite origami items that I may (or may not) create this Christmas.

Origami tree decorations

There are a number of tutorials online to help you create paper tree decorations; one of my favourites is the 2-tone bauble, which not only allows you to mix up colours and textures, it also looks very professional and contemporary due to the geometric folding.

There is a great tutorial to this on the Paper Chase website, although it might to be bit too complex for little hands, also unfortunately it uses glue.

Origami door wreath

This is a great decoration to do with children because the wreath can be made of flat origami shapes, for example stars or snowflakes.

This easy tutorial here shows you how to make a star, which is the perfect origami item for creating your wreath.

If you were to create a multiple number of stars in metallic foil paper and attached them all together round a cardboard ring your wreath will be ready.

Other easy to make origami shapes for your wreath include hearts and doves.

Of course, if you are willing to put in the time and effort some of the origami styles you can use are very detailed and complex, but the results are stunning.

Origami Santa

As with the stars and snowflakes, the origami Santa can be as easy or as complex and you want.

For an easy Santa tutorial, there is a good one here

Alternatively, for the more complex option, there are a variety of Santa’s here.

Origami Santa’s can also be used as tree decorations or you could sent them out as little Christmas cards.

If you think the origami Santa might be too easy, there are a number of other festive origami people you can make, how about the Angel Gabriel (ideal for the top of the tree) or a complete origami nativity set (for the origami professionals I would think!).

Using traditional origami at Christmas

Typically, the most popular types of traditional origami are cranes and boats.

The crane represents good fortune and longevity and is referred to as the ‘bird of happiness’. In Japan the origami cranes (called Orizuru) are strung together (usually 25 – 40) and given as gifts.

Also an ancient Japanese legend tells that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes within a year will be granted a wish by the gods.

While cranes are not typically seen as related to Christmas, I think they would still make lovely tree decorations and gifts.

You could also attach them to presents are gift labels, or if you know a friend who is up for the challenge, you could give them 1,000 sheets of origami paper.

Final thoughts

There are many other ways you can incorporate origami or paper folding into your Christmas, for example the Christmas hat (I’m sure we all made this as a child), the origami Christmas cracker and the origami fortune teller “pick a number 1 to 8” (which will keep children entertained for hours).

So whether you want to take up the origami challenge or you just want to cut out snowflakes, finding ways to incorporate eco-friendly additions to your Christmas decorations is definitely worth thinking about this year, after all, I’m sure we’ve all had some extra time on our hands.

Ellina Webb is Marketing Services Manager