Some of my favorite Christmas tree ornaments are a set of paper balls I learned how to make a few years back. They're free and easy to make with simple supplies, and would be perfect for your own decor or even as a little gift. I got the itch to make some more today, so I thought I'd make up a little tutorial so you can make some, too.
The main supplies you'll need are some paper and a cutting tool. I picked out some 12 x 12 scrapbook paper I already had on hand, and used my Fiskars circle punch to make things easy. You can use any paper you have around, but make sure it's about card stock weight, otherwise it won't keep it's shape well. Likewise, if you don't have a circle cutting tool, you can trace something circular and cut them by hand (double the paper up so it'll go faster).
Start by cutting out 21 circles. I cut out 10 of each color, plus an extra to use as a template.
To create your template and start folding your circles follow these steps:
(1) Lay out your extra circle piece. (2) Fold it in half. (3) Fold it in half again to make an X in your circle. (4) Fold a small section into the middle. (5) Fold an equal-sized section into the middle, overlapping the first section. (6) Fold the third section over the others, creating a triangle (try to keep the sections as equal as possible). (7) Cut away the flaps leaving your equilateral triangle as the template. (8) Place the template on top of a new circle and fold flaps along the lines. (9) Remove the template and you have the basic piece that will make up your ornament.
Now fold the rest until you have twenty folded triangle-circles (the template makes it go by pretty fast).
Next, bust out your craft glue of choice. I went for the hot glue gun for the sake of time. I've used white glue on previous ones and had to paperclip the flaps together to ensure they stay together, and it took much longer to dry.
Take 10 of your pieces and line them up in a row, alternating the direction they're pointing. (You don't have to do this, but it helps to keep track when you glue them together--and yes, this picture only shows 9, oops!)
Here's what they should look like after gluing. This will be the middle section of your ornament.
Next, glue the first and last pieces together.
You should have five flaps facing out on both the top and bottom.
Take your 10 remaining pieces and lay them out for the top and bottom of the ornament. This time you want them all pointing toward the center, creating a circular shape.
After you glue the flaps together, you'll have two domed pieces with five flaps on the bottom of each.
Glue the top and bottom pieces together along the flaps (I glued and pressed the flaps together one at a time).
Here's what the inside looks like without the top.
And here you're all finished! Doesn't it look great?
To hang it on the Christmas tree, just punch a whole in the top and string some yarn through.
You could also use old Christmas cards...
...and make them in different sizes. I've also made them with photos. They look great on display or in a bowl or vase; I'm even thinking of making a garland for the fireplace.