Party time – tissue paper flowers

What??? Are we on the Martha Stewart blog? Hey I’m a multipurpose librarian and somehow I got a tissue paper flower kick, and now I have to make them for a lot of library parties. It’s OK, as it’s cheap, easy and fun.

You need:

  • Tissue paper in colors appropriate to the party in question. Tissue paper is available at Wal-Mart and hobby/craft stores
  • Scissors: straight, or pinking for zig-zag panache
  • Pipe cleaners (fuzzy wires), green or other colors – available at Wal-Mart and hobby/craft stores
  • Gold metallic ribbon (optional)
  • A large flat surface to work on, a clean floor/carpet is fine.


  1.  Cut the tissue paper into large squares, or rectangles whose proportions aren’t too far off from a square. I usually cut large sheets of tissue paper into quarters, several sheets stacked at a time. Don’t worry about ragged/uneven edges.
  2. Stack 4-5 sheets in a pleasing color sequence.
  3. Accordion-pleat the stack of sheets together, folding one way then the other, pleats about 1/2 inch each. Don’t fold the creases too hard.
  4. Find the middle of the pleated stack and pinch it slightly. Take a pipe cleaner and wrap one end over the top, then twist the end of the pipe cleaner around the other side.
  5. Cut inverted V’s on either end of the pleated stack. At this point you can trim any ragged or uneven edges.
  6. Cut a 6″-8″ length of ribbon and slide it in between the middle pleat on one side of the pipe cleaner, until it comes out enough on the other side that you can pull the ribbon out half way (so the ribbon ends are even). Tie the ribbon in a simple knot. Tightly curl both ends of the ribbon with scissors. You could tie two ribbon lengths to add more curls to the middle of the flower. The curled ribbon looks like stamen or other central flower parts, and hides the pipe cleaner when viewing the flower head-on.
  7. If you have to transport the flowers to another location, leave them like this until they arrive at the intended destination. Unfurled tissue paper flowers are fragile and don’t travel well. Short distances (one room to another) is fine if you gently place them in a box and push the box on a book cart.
  8. Unfurl the petals. Gently fan out the pleats. Then starting with the inner most layer, begin pulling out very gently. I usually pull the first one out pointing forward and making the two halves overlap; the next two sheets are pulled out somewhat but petals curled back moderately; the last one or two sheets curled away. While doing this, arrange the curled ribbons so they’re in the middle of the flower.
  9. Use the long pipe cleaner “stems” to tie down to objects, to create bases, or tie flowers together.

If you’re having trouble visualizing this, try YouTubing tissue paper flowers. I came up with the ribbon bit on my own, but I’m sure others have thought of it before.

Cutting the tissue paper flowers can result in a mess of little paper pieces, so you may want to select a sheet of tissue paper in a color you don’t need, and do all your cutting on top of it. When you’re done you can roll up the sheet with all the little bits inside and dispose of it in one fell swoop.

We have been throwing Cinco de Mayo parties for our student workers every year for the past few years. To make flowers for this party, I use bright colors that go well with the Cinco de Mayo decorations we buy from Party City. The flowers make good table centerpieces. Last year a student tied one in her hair.

The Cinco de Mayo parties are very popular with our students. In addition to catered Mexican food and potluck contributions from the staff, we have a pinata filled with candy and kiddie party favors. Since we started doing Cinco de Mayo for the end-of-year student party, it’s been so popular we haven’t wanted to change the theme.

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