7 Ideas for Easy Origami Ornaments To Make This Weekend

updated Dec 16, 2020
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Credit: D. Finnin/© AMNH

This year won’t be the one I finally get to see the Natural History Museum’s origami tree, but I was still eager to read about this year’s theme. The museum is calling the 2020 tree ‘Cranes and Colors,” and it features 1,000 paper cranes as a symbol of peace and good wishes as the city continues to face the COVID-19 crisis.

When I reached out to the museum to request photos of this year’s tree, I learned a little more about the origami tree tradition. The tree is produced in partnership with Origami USA. The paper ornaments that decorate the tree are folded by volunteers from all across the country and even abroad. Others are pulled from the museum’s archive of ornaments from previous year’s trees.

Inspired by the idea of kids folding models for the tree, my son and I made some origami ornaments this week (okay, I made some and he mostly watched). All you need are origami paper and ornament hooks. At five years old, my son is still a bit young for this craft, but kids just a bit older should have the fine motor skills to make the creases and kids 8 and up are likely ready to follow the folding instructions themselves.

Origami ornaments are satisfying for all the reasons origami is: A simple piece of paper transforms into something three-dimensional. Plus, the act of folding the paper is calming and meditative. Here are seven ideas for origami ornaments to make:

Credit: D. Finnin/© AMNH

Origami Crane Ornament

The crane is a classic option for an origami ornament and it’s a straightforward model that most beginners can tackle. You can fold a few and string them together with a needle and thread for a more elaborate ornament. Download instruction for the crane here:

Credit: D. Finnin/© AMNH

Origami Dinosaur Ornament

The Natural History Museum also has a collection of origami dinosaurs on display. The museum has a how-to video for a barosaurus, which sparked my son’s imagination, but exceeded my skills. If you’ve got a dino-enthusiast in the house, Dover publications has a $6 book Origami Dinosaurs for Beginners.

Origami Balloon Ornament

Paper balloons are like an origami version of the classic Christmas ball ornament. To make them into an ornament, string a ribbon through the holes with the help of a skewer. Personally, I think these look great in a patterned paper. You can follow these directions from or google “origami balloon” for video tutorials.

Origami Elf Hat Ornament

This model is called the “tall helmet” in the instructions that came with my packet of origami paper, but when made in red or green paper, we think it looks an awful lot like an elf hat. If your child has some small figurines on display in her room, you could dress them in these as a touch of Christmas cheer. Here’s a tutorial for the “elf hat” online.

Origami Star Ornament

There are many tutorials for a paper Christmas stars folded from a five-pointed piece of paper, but I wanted to stick to the classic square, which lead me to this tutorial from Red Ted Art, which creates a satisfying star.

Origami Dove Ornament

A dove has long been a symbol of peace, so it felt like a good choice for an ornament. I turned up a simple tutorial on the blog Doodleee Doo.

Origami Diamond Ornament

An oldie but a goodie, we love this diamond ornament from deep in the Apartment Therapy archives from the blog How About Orange.