Making paper chains is a fun and easy traditional Christmas activity for all ages. Creating a basic chain is straightforward, so you can let your imagination run riot with experimental materials, colours or adornment. Paper chains are also one of the best ways to decorate a Christmas tree without spending a fortune. The look can dress up a synthetic tree, be fun and glitzy, or simple and beautifully rustic, complementing a real fir.
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Make paper chains with even strips of paper. Form a strip into a loop then glue at the end with a paper glue stick. This makes a circle and the next strip loops through this into another circle. You can also buy gummed strips in bright colours, which don't require glue. Alternatively, fold paper into a concertina, then draw and cut out a simple festive shape on this, without cutting through the folded sides. When unwound you get a string of paper shapes all linked together. Drape simple chains around a tree as a basic, pretty decoration.
Use any design of paper you like. For a Christmas tree, many people use festive wrapping paper. You could coordinate this with gifts under the tree, or choose a theme, such as angels, snowflakes or bells. These might reflect other decorations on the tree and combines well with tinsel, ribbon or baubles. Experiment with the size of strips to get delicate or chunky looped chains.
Make beautifully decorative paper chains for your tree, to reflect a theme. For a simple effect, make chains from gold or glitter card, or spray your finished chain with metallic paint. Paint chains with PVA craft glue and then dip in glitter for something sparkly. Place the glue in touches to highlight the chains, or paint them all over and make more of a glitzy statement. Use thin card for these chains, so that the glue does not make them soggy when wet.
Use decorative edged scissors to cut strips of paper for something more elegant. You could get pretty scalloped edges contrasting with a natural colour, or create a rococo feel by using rich shades of gold, wine or purple.
Make strips from paper doilies, which give a snowy vintage-inspired look when draped on branches. Other papery materials you can form in to chains include tissue, crepe, photos, acetate, textured art papers, newsprint and parchment. Alternatively, glue additions to your finished chains, such as cut-out card characters or festive berries.
Forget draping, and heap up masses of chunky paper chains around the base of your tree. This is an easy way to hide the plastic stand of a synthetic tree. You could use earthy colours to represent a pot, or white to look like a snow drift.
Make Christmas tree shaped decorations by starting with one simple loop. Add two loops to this, then link these two with another paper loop, placed horizontally to form a loose triangle. Work this way for a few more rows, making a larger triangular shape. Then add a few more loops at the bottom to look like a trunk. Make the bulk of this from green paper, with the trunk loops from brown. You could start with a yellow loop at the top, to give the effect of a bright star. Make lots of these from tiny strips of paper and hang on branches, either with an extra loop at the top, or with ribbon. They make an excellent paper alternative to expensive baubles.
Using a paper glue stick is easy and clean, but if you move on to more experimental materials, match your glue with these so that the loops stick properly. This also goes for fixing adornments to the chains. If unsure, you can ask about the suitability of glues in your local art shop. PVA glue is a useful liquid glue that sticks most kind of paper, and absorbent lightweight art materials. Other materials may require latex glue, a hot glue gun, clipping or stapling, so should only be attempted by adults.
Do not decorate trees with paper chains as well as candles or lights because this is a fire hazard.
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