Paper Clip Angels (Cute Homemade Christmas Ornament)

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.

Originally published Dec. 9, 2016; last updated November 2020

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.

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)

 

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

 

 

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

 

  • 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:

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.

 

  1. 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.
  2. Push the pinched fold of ribbon through the center of the paperclip.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.

 

If you enjoyed this Paper Clip Angel tutorial, why not share with others by pinning this image?

 

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41 thoughts on “Paper Clip Angels (Cute Homemade Christmas Ornament)”

    1. Glad you liked them! I was just hauling out my supply box yesterday so we can do this as Essie’s school winter party craft next week! 🙂

    2. So glad you like them! We’re actually going to make them again for Essie’s class holiday party this week at school 🙂

  1. I love these so much! I saw these years ago and made some, but yours with the faces and halos are way cuter. These are so simple and fun! Thanks for sharing at #heartandsoullinkup. 🙂

    1. Yep, with little kiddos, it can definitely be a bit tricky. Last time we tried these, mine were 3 and 5, and they needed lots of help (esp since the 5yo is the less dexterous). But this year, at 5 and 7, they both had it down 🙂

    1. Haha – thanks for the vote of confidence, Angie! 🙂 I feel the same way about you whenever I read your incredible recipes…

  2. Perfect! I have a whole box of wooden beads I’ve had sitting around for ages along with an embarrassing amount of paper clips. My kids are going to love this craft!

    1. It really is SO fun. The girls and I finally finished packaging theirs up over the weekend, so they’ve started delivering them to teachers at school, to everyone’s delight so far 🙂

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