DIY Paper Projects Perfect for Your Next Party

comments (30) May 15th, 2016     

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Jeff_Rudell Jeffery Rudell, contributor
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Wildflowers cut from a 24x7-inch piece of white
paper transform an ordinary layer cake into an extraordinary
confection. Fasten the ends together with white glue or double-sided
Start with a 36 x 12 inch piece of white paper.
In order to give your design some visual heft, I recommend against
cutting out too much detail; keep it graphic and bold and the results
will have more impact.
These coral napkin rings will add drama to your table, a sense of
whimsy to your meal, and will give your guests something charming to
take home with them.
Wildflowers cut from a 24x7-inch piece of white
paper transform an ordinary layer cake into an extraordinary
confection. Fasten the ends together with white glue or double-sided

Wildflowers cut from a 24x7-inch piece of white paper transform an ordinary layer cake into an extraordinary confection. Fasten the ends together with white glue or double-sided tape.

Photo: Jeffery Rudell
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Pretty Up a Party with Paper 

As a boy, I remember seeing a television show about Paris that featured, for a fleeting moment or two, a street artist doing hand-cut silhouette portraits of Parisian ladies in the gardens of the Tuileries. Using only a penny's worth of paper and small scissors, he created a beautiful picture in a matter of minutes (which he then sold for a few francs-not a bad mark up at the time). I immediately set to work trying to mimic his artistry only to discover that there was considerable skill involved in capturing a likeness of another person using only a cuticle scissor held tightly in my 10-year-old hand.

Nevertheless, once I started I never gave up cutting silhouettes. In the Midwest (where I grew up), Parisian ladies were difficult to come by, so I turned to my surroundings for inspiration. I thank all of my friends and relatives who, over the years, graciously accepted countless cut outs of cows, chickens, and flowers from me. While my skills may have improved (somewhat) since then, I still frequently return to nature as my subject.

As you'll see, I try to get my work out of the frames and off of the walls as often as possible. Take a look, and let me know what you think.

Tarting Up a Cake: Make a paper flower cake wrapper

To celebrate a friend's birthday, I recently baked her a cake and decorated it a ribbon of white paper wild flowers.

The party was a hit ,and the cake got photographed more than the guest of honor. The comment most often heard was, "How could you put so much work into something that's just going to get frosting on it and be ruined?" My answer was that only the back side got frosting on it (and even then, nothing that couldn't be wiped off) and the effect-the smiles from all who saw it-was worth an hour of my time.

paper flower cake wrapper   A detail of the cut flower cake wrapper pictured above. White is such a beautiful color against the chocolate frosting but don't be afraid to try colored or patterned papers for your projects.

Nothing's as Lovely as Fresh Cut Flowers

To carry the flower theme throughout the party, I also cut a slightly larger stand of flowers, which I then highlighted with watercolors. Be sure to notice that the flowers and stems abut, criss-cross, and overlap at regular intervals which lends strength to the piece and keeps the petals from flopping over, or "wilting on their stems." Keeping elements of your design connected to one another in this way also allows you to cut more slender and delicate looking stems.

paper cake decoration topper   Start with a 36 x 12 inch piece of white paper. In order to give your design some visual heft, I recommend against cutting out too much detail; keep it graphic and bold and the results will have more impact.


Once your piece is painted and dry, add accordion-folds along the bottom edge to give it a zigzag base and help it stand upright. For my party, I used this piece as a beautiful decoration near the coffee service out on my porch.

 cake paper topper decoration   I left the stems white and used only four colors on the blossoms for a cheerfully modern look.

Picnic by the Sea: Make a paper branch coral-shaped napkin ring

In summer, one of my favorite pastimes is dining al fresco with friends. Be it near the shore, on a neighbor's patio, or on a New York rooftop, you can never go wrong by giving your table décor a little extra attention. One of my favorite (and quickest) ways to liven up a tabletop without splurging on fresh flowers or resorting to simple tealights is to cut a free-form decorative napkin ring.

branch coral paper napkin ring   This unexpected spray of red branch coral adds height and drama to your table for the cost of a few pieces of paper.

To make this branch coral napkin ring, I used an 8-1/2 x11-inch sheet of bright red paper. Canson has a great palette of colors, but any colorful paper with a little body will suffice. I try to select a paper stock that has enough heft to stand up without wilting and yet is thin enough to comfortably cut with a craft knife.

My coral measures 6-1/2 x 9 inches, but you can make yours as large or as small as you like. I prefer cutting freehand since it allows for (the inevitable) mistakes. If you prefer, you may wish to download a reference photo or two from Google Image Search. (I searched for "coral.")

Important: Be sure to leave a lobe at the base of your branch (about the size of a quarter will do) and another lobe directly above it (as indicated in the areas circled in BLUE below.) These two pieces will form the bracket with which you will attach the coral to the napkin ring.

branch coral paper napkin ring   Cut out a freehand shape, or trace a design of your liking. Be sure to leave room for your bracket (see above.)

Score the upper lobe and fold it down so that it covers the bottom lobe. Using a craft knife, cut a single notch through both lobes from their centers down through their bottom edges. This notch is how you will attach the coral to the paper loop of the napkin ring itself.

  Fold the upper lobe down over the lower one.


branch coral paper napkin ring   Cut a small notch (approximately 1/2 inch in length).


branch coral paper napkin ring   The bracket of your coral should now look like this.

Finally, use the remaining strip of red paper (1-1/4 x11 inches) for the napkin ring proper. Glue this strip-end to end-adding a single twist to make it a Möbius strip. The single twist provides a strong vertical edge onto which you can position the notch you cut into your branch coral.

branch coral paper napkin ring   Use a strong white adhesive to glue your Mobiüs strip together, and hold it until the glue dries.

I try to make all of my napkin rings different from each other. Don't be afraid to vary the size and shape and for a slightly less formal look you can even vary the color from orange and yellow, to violet and green. Your guests will delight at your creativity (and don't be surprised if they try to take one home with them.)

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posted in: flower, napkin rings, party favors, cake decoration, hand cut flowers

Comments (30)

Stewart_J writes: This cake looks so yummy ! I guess it's because of the decoration, hehe :)
Posted: 4:48 am on May 26th
finchelicious writes: Wonderful! My latest project was prettying up a whole train station! It wasn't that huge, but paper in circles and some balloons made the place gorgeous!
Posted: 5:42 am on December 15th
Anna_Bloom writes: superb
Posted: 6:06 am on July 2nd
esteph6 writes: wonderful design
Posted: 4:27 am on July 2nd
Deepak786 writes: good art work
Posted: 4:33 am on April 9th
Ashtonjames writes: awesome
Posted: 12:20 am on March 16th
elizabeth563 writes: awesome
Posted: 12:53 am on March 12th
Brettlii writes: wow its great
Posted: 2:18 am on February 28th
elizazet writes: just one word-osam
Posted: 11:04 am on January 21st
AkhilGupta writes: absolutely beautiful!
Posted: 2:28 am on December 16th
johan21 writes: wow
Posted: 4:21 am on December 9th
Lissa53 writes: love it
Posted: 6:00 am on November 14th
Sofia56 writes: wonderful
Posted: 12:07 am on November 11th
jinkarten writes: realy awesome
Posted: 5:34 am on October 24th
munezlaine writes: just one word-awesome :)
Posted: 11:20 am on September 11th
fosterlaine writes: good share
Posted: 2:36 am on September 11th
sandylaine writes: nice art work
Posted: 10:00 am on September 10th
sunnylaine writes: love your stuff
Posted: 1:36 pm on September 7th
montylee writes: good art work :)
Posted: 2:45 am on August 27th
Nodan writes: I think it is really very hard to cut out the flowers just with scissors. It's perfect.
Posted: 4:33 am on February 5th
sandysewin writes: Something about the simplicity of the dark on light along with the delicate designs make this stunning.

You inspire us all. We don't need complex materials, just the basics and an artist's eye (and a steady hand) can make the most wondrous of creations.
Posted: 5:55 pm on October 30th
Luvbird writes: I think this is just so beautiful & i know just the lady to show this to,{we call her Cake Queen}!!She decorates cakes for people in her Church,& family members for Weddings & such!She`ll Love this pattern so much,Thank you :)
Posted: 6:36 pm on October 26th
marksc33 writes: Every single paper project Jeffery does is better than the next!!! He definitely needs to publish a book....
Posted: 7:01 am on June 30th
ErinMichelle writes: i cannot deal with how great this is.
Posted: 11:12 pm on August 1st
Posted: 4:34 pm on July 10th
Learnernc writes: Just elegant!! Thanks for the two links in the article,too. What style!
Posted: 2:37 pm on July 3rd
paperrain writes: This is one of the best ideas I've ever seen! And I'm about to have a party, so I'm using it.
Posted: 1:10 pm on July 3rd
Softflexgirl writes: Love this!
Posted: 12:44 pm on July 3rd
memaw writes: I'm going out to buy an exacto knife! Your work is gorgeous!
Posted: 11:01 am on June 30th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Wow, this is absolutely beautiful!
Posted: 12:30 pm on June 19th
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