I sipped my hot cocoa and watched their fingers fly, creasing and tucking the paper strips over and around and through, while the Christmas carols played and they chatted. I was mystified at how the paper twisted and folded into shape, while my seven-year-old fingers snitched another strip of paper from the pile and bent it back and forth in a simple accordian fold. They were making traditional German Star Christmas Ornaments from paper strips, and I was mesmerized.
By the time I was 14, I was folding German star ornaments (also called Moravian or Froebel Stars) along with my mother and grandmother, making my own to hang on our tree. Despite looking complicated, the ornaments are made from 4 strips of paper and a few simple repeated folds. Once you get the hang of the folds, you can make a star in under 5 minutes. Make them in batches while watching your favorite show, or grab your teens and tweens and make some holiday memories.
How to make German Stars for Christmas
You will need:
- 4 paper strips of equal width ( 1/2″ maximum for 12″ scrapbook paper)
- needle and thread (or thin twine and hole punch)
- Paraffin wax block
- Coordinating Fine Glitter
You only need 3 types of folds to make German stars, one for the base, one for the side points, and one for the top/bottom dimensional points. The folds repeat for the ends of each strip. I made a quick video to show you how easy it is to make the folds.
You can do this, I promise!
Here’s a closer look at the folds:
In the first set of folds, weave the strips as shown below. Pull until snug, then fold top layer of strips to center as shown in video.
The fold type has three steps (behind, down, and toward middle), then the tail tucks through the basket weave from before. Then you turn the whole shebang clockwise, repeat the rest of the way around. Flip it over and do it again on the other side.
The third fold type is the trickiest, since the end of the strip can get stuck in the side point. Tip: use a toothpick or tweezers if necessary to open the folds a little bit to let the paper strip slide through. Just like in the last type, you repeat your way around the circle, then flip and do the other side.
After trimming the excess ends, use a needle and thread to add a loop for hanging through one of the side points of the star. Or for a more rustic look, use a small hole punch and thin twine. If you’re a “words and pictures” learner instead of a “show me” learner, here are good Illustrated German Star Instructions from IUPUI.
Make German Stars With Bonus Glitter!
When you have finished making your batch of stars, you can hang them just as they are or add the “dip and sparkle” step (my 7-year-old-self’s favorite part!). Adding this step will help preserve the ornaments to reuse through the years. Melt a block of paraffin wax in a small saucepan over low heat. Individually dip each star into the paraffin and quickly sprinkle with glitter. Set aside to cool on a sheet of waxed or freezer paper.
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning one of my favorite Christmas traditions!
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