WINNER ‘Progress toward circularity’ Marie Claire Sustainability Awards 2023

Sustainable Christmas Idea: Make hanging tassel decorations using recycled paper

Repurpose your unwanted books into intricate paper decorations with designer maker, Clare Youngs, author of Book Art by CICO Books.  

These delicate baubles are perfect to make at Christmas. Hang them on painted silver and white twigs for a pretty and unusual festive display, or use use old magazines and used wrapping paper for a colourful spin on this craft.

Hanging tassel decor made using old book pages

What you'll need to make your hanging tassel decoration:

  • Pages from an old book (try to find thick paper for this project)
  • Cutting mat
  • Craft knife
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Wire cutters
  • Glue stick and glue
  • Bookbinder’s awl or something with a sharp point such as a compass or metal skewer
  • Thin wire (florists’ or craft wire)
  • Scissors
  • Pair of pliers


Step 1: Paper beads

First make some paper beads. For one of the larger beads, cut a strip of paper the length of the page and 3⁄4in (2cm) wide. At one end of the strip make a pencil mark 1⁄2in (1cm) in from the edge to mark the middle. With a ruler, join the top corner at the end of the strip to the pencil mark. Cut this section away and repeat on the other side to make a triangle.

step one: cut paper strips to made paper beads

Step 2: Rolling the triangles

Run the glue stick along the length of the triangle. Roll up the triangle starting at the wide end and keeping the roll tight. You can vary the width of the triangles in order to get different-shaped beads.

Rolling triangle for paper tassel hanging decor

Step 3: The small beads

Cut a strip of paper 1½ in (4cm) wide. Glue and roll it tightly in the same way as step 2. Using the craft knife, slice it into small sections measuring 1⁄4in (5mm) wide. These small beads are used to hold the strips of paper on the decoration in place.

Cutting the rolled paper

Step 4: The bauble shape

To make the bauble shape: cut out 15 strips of paper 5⁄8 x 6in (1.5 x 15cm). Using the awl or other sharp point, make a small hole in the top of the strips, centered and approx. 1⁄3in (8mm) from the edge. Place the strips together when making the holes so that the holes are in the same position on each strip. Repeat this at the other end of the strips.

A hangle tassel paper decor

Step 5: Threading the first bead

Take a thin piece of wire, approx. 12in (30cm) long, and fold it in half. Thread a larger bead onto the folded wire. You can push your sharp point through the bead first to make it easier. Position the bead about 5⁄8in (1.5 cm) from the end of the folded wire. Open out the loop of wire into a circular shape to stop the bead moving up any farther.

Threading the bead

Step 6: Threading all the paper strips

Thread all 15 strips of paper onto the folded wire. Take one of the small beads cut from the roll, thread it onto the wire, and push it up close to the strip of paper. Place a blob of glue on the end of the bead to secure it to the bottom strip of paper.

Threading paper strips


Step 7: Threading another bead

Thread another small bead onto the folded wire and then the other end of the strips of paper. Position the bead and strips of paper approx. 2in (5cm) down the wire. Secure the bead to the strips and wire with a blob of glue as in step 6. Then, add another large bead to the wire and a small disc of paper measuring about 3⁄4in (2cm) in diameter.

threading more beads onto the wire.

Step 8: The tassel

To make the tassel: from a page cut a rectangle of paper measuring 2 x 6in (5 x 15cm). Using scissors, cut a fringe all along the width of the paper, stopping 1⁄2in (1cm) from the other side (see illustration). Make the strips of the fringe about 1⁄4in (5mm) wide. Run a glue stick along the top edge of the fringe and roll up to form the tassel. Glue a 1⁄2 x 2in (1 x 5cm) strip of paper around the top of the tassel for a neat finish.

The tassle

Step 10: Final steps

Thread the tassel onto the wire. Use the small pair of pliers to bend the ends of wire over a few times to secure. Cut off any extra wire and hide the end of the wire among the tassels. Finally, open out the strips of paper to form a sphere. You can vary the shape of the decorations by changing the length of the strips of paper. You can also make double ones or even triple ones with different-sized spheres.

Trim tassel

Your finished hanging tassel decoration

You should now be finished your intricately designed paper hanging tassel decoration. Why not make more and fill your interiors with this unique festive decor? If you want to expand your skillset to other inspiring projects, pick up a copy of Book Art by Clare Youngs, published by CICO Books.

And if you're looking for more elaborate hanging decorations to add to your home, try your hand at the Polish "Pajaki" paper chandelier, taught by Yodomo instructor Karolina Merska.

The photography for this project is by Caroline Arber © CICO Books, from Book Art by Clare Youngs.