Aaahhh, tissue paper! It’s not just for stuffing in gift bags and boxes. It also plays an important part in arts & crafts, including party decorations. Before we go into different ways to utilize tissue paper as an affordable – and colorful! – craft staple, let’s take a look at its properties and variations.
Wikipedia defines tissue paper as “a lightweight paper”, which you’ll find to be thinner than print paper (i.e. what you use for writing and in your computer printer) but not as thin as facial tissue (ex: Kleenex). It also comes in a variety of colors and designs and is sold folded in multiple sheets, either in a single color or as a variety pack. Tissue paper is widely available, being sold anywhere from grocery stores to craft stores to online stores. If a retail store has cards or wrapping paper, there is a strong likelihood they also sell tissue paper.
The Pros and Cons of Tissue Paper
So, how do you know when to love it or leave it?
Tissue paper doesn’t like to get wet. It’s like a cat that starts spitting and hissing if its paw even touches a little water. Once wet, tissue paper will tear even more easily than normal and its colors will start to bleed. Knowing this, you should never use tissue paper outside as a decoration unless you are absolutely sure there is no chance of a) rain, b) sprinklers, or c) overturning drink coolers (ahem, sports events). If you use it inside, just make sure that it isn’t in a place where it can easily get wet, such as by a sink or drink station. Placing a protective layer of plastic between the tissue paper and your furniture (plastic tablecloths work well for this) can save your furniture from being stained by the dye… Unless this is an art project to decorate your furniture, then go for it!
Owing to its thinness, tissue paper tears easily, which can make it frustrating if you’re in a hurry and it keeps ripping. It does not support the weight of other supplies either. For instance, it can be decorated in glitter but it may not hold up to heavy beads and acrylic gems. You can use light applications of glue, but it probably won’t like heavy paints. When you’re cutting it in a design, be extra careful as the finer and more delicate the design, the more likely it is to tear. Writing on it won’t work with ink or pencil; chalk or pastels might if you tread lightly. With a careful hand and good planning (and maybe a test run or two), you can make it work!
Tissue paper comes in all colors of the rainbow! There are even versions with printed designs; some patterns are then embossed with metallic ink to give them a sophisticated sheen. Whatever your style – or party theme! – there is a tissue paper for that.
You can shape tissue paper however you want it. Lay it flat for a background or decoupage, fold it accordion style for a fan, bunch it into a pompom to decorate a sign or a float, etc. It also has a tiny bit of stiffness to stick out if you have folded and fluffed it, such as for tissue paper flowers.
The affordability of tissue paper is hard to beat. It is similar to other supplies in that patterns cost more than solids, and metallic designs cost more than simple colored ones. You can buy it in bulk and it is generally cheap to ship because of its light weight.
TIP: When buying tissue paper, pay close attention to a) the dimensions and b) the number of sheets. A pack that might seem like a good buy could be more expensive because it’s only 5 sheets and 12″ x 18″. A better buy might be the pack next to it that is 25 sheets and 20″ x 30″. NOTE: Standard sizes are usually 20 ” x 26″ OR 20″ x 30″. I have seen some sites sell 15″ x 20″ as a “commercial half sheet”, which enables retailers to use less paper in wrapping and thereby save money.
If the gift itself is the cake and the wrapping is the icing, then the tissue paper is the filling. You don’t have to have it, but it sure does spruce things up. Plain white tissue paper goes with everything; using colored tissue paper adds a bit more panache, especially if it coordinates with the wrapping paper or gift basket. (I like to keep a pack of white on hand for emergencies and try to use colored wherever I can.) It’s not just cosmetic, either: it holds the gift in place, cushions a fragile gift, and conceals the gift from a pre-emptive peek.
Here are a few ways to wrap your gifts with tissue paper:
- Gift bags:
- Wrap the gift itself in a piece of tissue paper. This will help conceal it if the top layers come loose or fall out.
- Lightly crumple the tissue paper and fill in the empty space in the bag around the gift, which should be in the center of the bag.
- Fold a few remaining pieces in a fan or triangle shape and place them point down into the bag with the wider pieces sticking out of the top. I prefer to place the tissue paper fans around the edges of the bag first and fill in the middle last.
- TIP: Because the gift recipient really only notices the tissue paper sticking out of the bag, you can use white or solid paper at the bottom of the bag and save the more colorful or patterned paper (that costs more moolah) for the top.
- Gift boxes:
- Center a piece of paper horizontally and one vertically in the open box. This should leave extra tissue paper all around the edges of the box.
- Wrap the gift in a sheet or two of tissue paper and place it in the middle of the box.
- Fold the outer edges of the tissue paper in and over the gift. The box is ready to be sealed!
- TIP: Use alternating colors for a bit more pizazz.
Search the internet for “tissue paper arts & crafts” and there is no shortage of search results. Some of our favorites are “stained glass” pictures and tissue paper flowers. (Stay tuned for our upcoming tutorial on tissue paper flowers.) The best part of these activities? They apply to all ages and the supplies are inexpensive! And did we mention that they also can double as decorations?
Tissue paper is perfect for pompoms, flowers, tassels, garlands, etc. It also works well for themed decorations, such as red tissue paper for dragon fire or white tissue paper for clouds. How about a particularly pretty piece crumpled up as filler in a clear acrylic ornament or vase? Or arranged in a window as faux stained glass? Just make sure you follow the tips above about keeping the tissue paper away from anything wet!
What are some of your favorite ways to use tissue paper? Let us know on our Facebook page, and happy event-ing!