Origami Christmas

Christmas origami instructions are here for those who are tired of store-bought Christmas cards. Are your kids bored during the winter school break? Want your home to have a cozy-warm feel instead of the shopping mall tinsel? We have the answer: Christmas Origami!

origami Christmas tree

The tradition of decorating Christmas trees with origami models was initiated by Alice Gray. Alice Gray was an entomologist by training and, in the early 1960's, she used paper insects to decorate Christmas trees at home and at the Entomology Department at the Museum. The Museum Directors enjoyed the idea so much that they asked Alice to decorate a larger Christmas tree for display in the vestibule of the Museum:

The tree was 25 feet tall. Alice recruited the help of friends, family and origami enthusiasts and managed to decorate the tree to everyone's delight. Since that time, the idea of using origami models to decorate Christmas trees has spread worldwide and has become an annual event in the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Read more here.
[Photo by F Mancini].

How to Decorate an Origami Christmas Tree

One Model: Some people like to decorate the entire tree with the same model over and over again. One common model is the paper crane. This may be because the paper crane is an elegant model familiar to many people. Perhaps it is because the paper crane is a symbol of peace: what better way to express "peace on Earth, good will toward men". In December 2001, the American Museum of Natural History in New York decorated their Christmas tree with 3700 Paper Cranes.

Different Models: Some people like to decorate their tree with different models. How fun to have a tree covered with your personal-favorite origami models. You can encourage children to fold a variety of different models and allow them to trim the tree themselves. Paper ornaments won't break and it will make the tree memorable since they made the decorations themselves.

In December 2001, the Guinness Book of Records recognized the largest Origami Christmas Tree in Holland. This tree was 18 m tall (almost 60 feet) and was decorated with 10,000 origami models. See photo here (scroll down).

Themed Models: Some people, especially cooperations and businesses, will have a themed tree. The American Museum of Natural History in New York uses a different theme each year:

- 2001: Peace Cranes
- 2002: Healing and Re-growth
- 2003: Sea Creatures
- 2005: here
- 2006: Origami Safari and here
- 2007: Fantastic Creatures and here.
- 2008: Folding the Museum
- 2009: Holiday Tree from A to Z
- 2010: Discovery
- 2011: AMNH's Biggest and Best
- 2012: Collections
- 2013: Wicked, Wild, & Wonderful
- 2014: Night at the Museum
- 2015: Mighty to Microscopic Life
- 2016: Origami Dinosaurs Among Us
- 2017: Unfolding the Senses

origami christmas tree modular origami

origami christmas tree modular origami

2011: This holiday tree was seen in a store window display in Toyko, Japan. Each tier is made with origami cranes with the lower layers having larger cranes. Photo is from Merry Christmas from Japan. [Enlarge photo]

origami christmas tree modular origami

origami christmas tree modular origami

December 2009, in "The Garden of Archimedes - A museum for mathematics", Florence, Italy; Francesco Mancini decorated a tree exclusively with modular origami. Tom Hull's Five Intersecting Tetrahedra (FIT) tops the tree while Thoki Yenn's Umulius Rectangulum (Magic Rings) is hanging at the bottom right. Can you recognize the others? Enlarge photo.

World Tree of Hope

World Tree of Hope

First started in 2006, the Rainbow World Fund erects a 20-foot Christmas tree called the "World Tree of Hope". This tree is decorated with thousands of paper cranes and stars. What's really special is that the cranes have wishes inscribed on them: wishes sent from all over the world. It's a symbol of world unity. In 2010, the World Tree of Hope was named one of the Top Ten Christmas Trees in the world by American Express Traveler: it had 4,100 origami cranes and over 1,200 origami stars! See previous years' trees here.

origami christmas tree Sharon Turvey

origami christmas tree Sharon Turvey

In addition to making origami decorations to trim your tree, you can make your entire tree origami style. That is to say, use paper to make the tree. In December 2004, Sharon Turvey used 540 pieces of paper to create a full-size Christmas tree that was 71 inches tall, 48 inches across and weighed 42 pounds. Instructions for this paper tree can be found in this CD which, unfortunately, is no longer available. [Photo by S Turvey].

origami christmas tree

Sachiko Kogure specializes in origami Christmas trees. In 2006, she presented impressive, full-size origami Christmas trees in the 30th Annual Festival of Trees of Atlanta, Georgia. [Photo by S Kogure].

Are you up to the challenge? If not, how about just folding a small origami tree that can fit on the front of a greeting card? Click below to start folding

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  • These free origami instructions are made available to you by the paper folding community at large. If you have a diagram you would like to share, or if your diagram is listed here and you wish to have it removed, please Contact Us. Diagrams are intended for personal use. Copyright of the models lie with the origami creators and designers. Please contact the designer and/or creator directly for non-private usage of a model and/or artwork.