I first saw paper clip angels a few years ago at our church’s holiday bazaar and thought, “Oh, how sweet!” There must be a gazillion versions of paper clip angels on Pinterest, but every time I do this craft, it’s new to everyone who sees it.

The girls made these last year for Christmas gifts for all their teachers, and everyone loved them. Although their three- and five-year-old fingers had a tricky time with some of the parts, the activity was good fine-motor-skill practice for them. And slightly older kids will probably not have these problems.

So if you’re looking for a cute, easy idea for a kid-friendly holiday craft, give this a try.

Paper Clip Angels

You can make these in two different sizes. Except for the butterfly paper clips (available online or at office-supply stores), I found all the supplies for practically nothing at our favorite secondhand crafting-supply store. Scroll through this directory to find one near you, or check out your local crafting store.

Each paper clip angel takes only a minute or two to make, once you’ve got your supplies together.

Bags of assorted wooden beads cover a range of skin tones for faces.

What you’ll need

For small paper clip angels:

  • Small (1.5 inch/4 cm) butterfly paper clips
  • Narrow (3mm or 1/8 inch) ribbon in your color of choice, cut into 10-inch (25 cm) lengths
  • Plastic pony beads or assorted small wooden beads (approx. 10mm or 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch diameter) in your preferred flesh tone(s)
  • An extra-fine-point permanent marker (optional)

    You can find ring-shaped spacers in the beading section of craft stores.

  • Silver or gold ring-shaped spacer beads, for halos (optional)
  • A large-eye needle, small paper clip, or twist-tie, to help little fingers thread the ribbon through the holes (optional)

For large paper clip angels:

  • Large (2 5/8 inch or 7 mm)) butterfly paper clips
  • Narrow (1/8 inch or 3mm) ribbon in your color of choice, cut into 12-inch (30 mm) lengths
  • Wooden beads (approx. 1/2 to 5/8 inch, 15-20mm in diameter) in your preferred flesh tone(s), or wooden beads with pre-painted faces
  • An extra-fine-point permanent marker (optional)
  • Silver or gold ring-shaped spacer beads, for halos (optional)
  • A large-eye needle, small paper clip, or twist-tie, to help little fingers thread the ribbon through the holes (optional)

How to make paper clip angels

  1. (Best for grownup hands) If you’re using plain beads and would like your angels to have faces, draw a tiny face on each bead with a super-fine-point permanent marker.
  2. Fold each ribbon almost in half, so that one tail is about 3/4 to 1 inch (20-25 mm) longer than the other. Pinch the ribbon tightly at the fold.
  3. Push the pinched fold of ribbon through the center of the paperclip.
  4. Pull the pinched fold up between the “wings” of the paperclip, open the fold into a loop, and thread the ribbon ends through the loop. Pull the ribbon tight to secure the knot.
  5. Thread on one head bead, followed by one ring-shaped spacer bead (halo). Turn the head bead so that it is facing through the center of the “wings,” and the longer tail of the ribbon is behind (in the back). Slide down so that halo is firmly on top of head, and head is firmly between wings.
  6. Loop the longer tail through the “halo” (spacer bead) one extra time from the back, and pull until tight. (This keeps the halo from accidentally sliding over the knot that’s supposed to secure everything in place.)
  7. Tie a knot with the two ribbon tails so that it sits snug atop the halo. Tie another knot at the end of the tails to make a loop for hanging.

Tips and tricks

  • As noted above, the hardest part of this craft is all the fine-motor control needed for tiny fingers to manipulate the beads and thread the ribbons. At one point I thought wire-edged ribbon would solve this problem, but instead it proved too inflexible to knot easily.
  • So instead, I fashioned a makeshift “needle” out of a small paperclip, to help the girls thread the ribbon through the bead holes. This worked much better.
  • The spacer beads (halos) are totally optional, but I think they add a nice touch. You can also use plain faux pearl beads instead of the face beads, but I think the flesh-toned ones look less ghostly.


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