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Miniature Holiday Ornament Exchange & Tutorial

Yesterday the Columbus Miniature club had our holiday party. One of the traditions is to do a miniature holiday ornament exchange. Everyone makes a number of ornaments (however many people are participating) and then we all put one ornament into each paper bag around the table.

As this was my first year, I didn’t know what to expect. For a long time, I was stumped on what to make. Eventually I got the idea to make tiny paper stars. I’d made a bunch in high school, and I figured I could attach a loop of thread and that’d be good.

I found some metallic papers on Amazon, and they arrived quickly enough. I cut the paper into fourths so the finished stars would be even tinier. The original papers produce 5/8″ stars and by cutting them down the resulting stars are 5/16″. I made up a bunch of stars before testing my idea of how to attach the thread loop, and sadly, after figuring out how to do it, the answer is that the thread needs to be folded into the star, so all my already made ones wouldn’t work. Oh well, things happen.

Making the stars is pretty simple once you understand the process and get the hang of it. Essentially, you are tying a knot in the paper, flattening it, then wrapping the knot over and over until you run out of paper. Then tuck the final edge in to secure it, and the last step is where the magic happens. Using your fingernails, pinch two edges to make a point, then continue with the rest of the sides. Here’s a photo tutorial I found on the web.

After I had all the little star ornaments made up, I needed a way of protecting them and keeping them together. I didn’t feel like making boxes for them, so I went with the only other holiday wrapping there is, gift bags!

I found a dieline for gift bags online, and got the size of a typical bag from Uline, and scaled my pattern. Then, I printed a few out, planning to trace them onto wrapping paper. I had purchased some pretty silver wrapping paper earlier so I used that.

I learned how to do this from this YouTube video. She takes her time, but you can scrub ahead to each step if you are impatient.

Her bags don’t have the folded top, nor the strings, but that’s pretty simple to figure out from the dieline. I folded the top edge down, and then punched holes and added strings. I found it was easiest to double knot one end of the string, and single knot the other, then thread the string through the holes and then tie the last double knot. My strings were so short it was just easier to do the knotting without the bag being in the way. For scale, those are half inch grid lines on my cutting mat. So tiny!!!

Now that I had something to put my miniature holiday ornament in, I needed a way of identifying that these were from me. Not bothering to think too far outside of the box (or so I thought) I needed to make a card and sign my name. Gifts always come with cards right? As it turned out, I was the only one in my club to go this route, everyone else just put a piece of paper in their baggie. And by baggie, I mean little clear zipped product baggie. Only one other person made a scale gift bag!

I searched Google for winter images. In particular, I looked for ones that were tagged for commercial reuse, on the off-chance I want to sell them. I found six images that I like and whipped up some cards. On the inside I put “Season’s Greetings” and then in a font I had made of my own handwriting, I signed the card. On the back I put my logo and business name, but my printer settings were weird so that didn’t come out so well.

Next to put it all together, right? But wait! Gift bags always have tissue paper stuffed into them! I found my stash of tissue paper I’ve collected over the years and I had some lovely green paper. I measured it, 2′ by 3′. Well that’s easy, that means a sheet in 1:12 is 2″ by 3″. Finally I caught a break on the math! Because I’m insane like that, I also noted where the folds are in the tissue paper. First a hamburger fold in half, then fold it in half the other way, then fold again that way. There are three main creased folds, which section the tissue paper into eight long skinny rectangles.

I don’t know if anyone would notice that detail, but it makes me feel good knowing it is there. It is one of those things that helps minis feel real; the details that you don’t necessarily recall but if they are missing, you notice something is wrong but don’t know why. Another thing that often gives away a scaled mini is material thickness. You need to use thinner materials when making minis, otherwise the creases don’t crease correctly or the item looks bulkier than it should. Fortunately, my tissue paper was already crazy thin (probably cheap). It worked well in this instance.

With all the ornaments carefully packaged, I headed off to bed. The next afternoon was the party!

We held the party at the church where we usually have our meetings, but in a different room to make it feel more festive. We had four round tables set up and everyone had a name card for where to sit. You can see my name card up in the title image on the left hand side of the photo. The tables were decorated so nicely!

Two additional round tables held the miniature holiday ornament exchange and the gift exchange. I signed up for the ornament exchange simply because it sounded like fun. I had no idea what I’d make at the time, but assumed I’d figure something out.

There were 17 paper bags set out in a circle. Each had a snowman juggling snowballs with our name letters. We each put one miniature holiday ornament of our own into each bag, and later we could collect our bag. I took a picture of each ornament and then put them on my tree.

I had decided to pass on the gift exchange. Being very new to the club, and to miniatures, I didn’t think I could put together a good enough gift. From seeing one unwrapped afterwards, I was correct in my assumption. I’ve recently re-learned that jumping into too many projects at a time tends to have poor results.

Here’s All Our Ornaments!

When I got home, I took some of the papers and boxes that were included with the ornaments and table cards and made them into presents to set under the tree. I am especially proud of the tree stand that I made out of the little red shot cup. It needs a bit more work, but I like the idea. I turned Kim’s polka dotted card into a present, and reworked the already lovely (but large) origami wreath box into four smaller boxes. I also took the gold circles paper sleeve bag and made that into a box.

Happy Holidays!

If you liked any of the tools or supplies I was using and think they might be helpful in your own miniatures adventure, I have Amazon Affiliate links to them for you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Should you choose to purchase any of these, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission. Know that I only recommend products, tools, services and learning resources I’ve personally used and believe are genuinely helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to purchase them. Most of all, I would never advocate for buying something that you can’t afford, don’t feel comfortable with, or that you’re not yet ready to use.

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