Tissue paper poms are my absolute favorite party decoration. They are cheap and big and make a lot of impact. Unlike helium balloons, these can be made weeks ahead of time. I thought everyone knew how to make tissue paper poms but I’ve had person after person ask me how to make them so I figured a tutorial is in order. The poms I’m making are with paper that is 20″ wide. Once the edges have been trimmed and they’re fluffed up, they’re about 16 inches wide. These are frightfully easy. Like, elementary school easy.
The first and most important thing you need is tissue paper. I buy mine in bulk from Nashville Wraps. They have every color imaginable and it’s really fantastic quality at a good price. But most people don’t want to go to that much trouble. You can use any tissue paper you like but keep in mind that most tissue paper is pretty chintzy, flimsy and small. You’ll need more sheets of the cheap stuff to achieve the same look. Just how much? The tissue from Nashville Wraps is 20×30″. Since those are pretty big, thick sheets you’ll need less. I can get away with 9-10 sheets per pom. The average tissue paper you can buy at the store (say a 99¢ pack of eight sheets from Party City) is smaller (20×24″) and thinner. So you’ll need about 12 sheets to get the same effect. You don’t have to use that much, but if you don’t your poms will look a little anemic and lackluster. If it’s a party full of screaming 4-year olds then maybe you don’t care so much. But if it’s for a wedding or a party where there will be actual people who will notice, you might want to splurge. It averages out to about 1.5 packs per pom. Honestly it’s not going to break the bank.
You’ll also need floral wire (I use 26 gauge but pretty much any thin wire will do), clear fishing line and clear push pins.
Your first step will be to lay the tissue paper out with the corners nice and even. You’ll fold your paper up like a fan. (I think I made a fan out of the church program every single week until I was about twelve. So I’m pretty much an expert.) First fold the paper one way, then flip the whole stack over and fold the other way. I’m sure everyone knows how to do this. If you don’t, well, maybe throwing a party is not your biggest concern. The important thing is to make the folds about 1.5-2 inches wide. Not any wider than this. Trust me, OK?
If you get to the end and there’s not quite enough to make another complete fold, just bend it underneath anyway. It will look fine. When you’re done, you’ll have an accordion-ish thing like this.
Once it’s folded you’ll trim both sides. I prefer cutting mine to a point but you can also cut the edges so that they’re rounded. Rounded edges look a little more flowery and feminine. Points are a bit more dramatic. The tissue will probably be too thick to cut all at once so just cut a few sheets at a time. There is no need to be all perfect and OCD about this. Once the poms are fluffed up and hanging from the ceiling nobody will notice any details.
Now grab a floral wire. You don’t need the wires to be super long, so I usually cut mine in half so they’re 9-10″. Bend the piece of wire in half.
Slide the wire onto your folded tissue paper right in the center.
Now twist the edges of the wire together. You don’t want to make the wire too snug around the paper. It should be a bit loose; the puffball will be easier to fluff that way.
Now you’ll bend the wire over to make a loop. Take the loose ends and wrap them around the bottom to secure the loop. You’ll be hanging the pom from this.
The easiest time to attach the fishing line for hanging is while the pom is still folded up. So take a piece of fishing line that’s about 10′ long and put it through the wire loop. Unless your ceilings are outrageously high, this will be plenty long. Better to cut the line too long than not long enough.
Once the fishing line is through the loop, hold both ends together and tie them in a knot. This will keep the line from squiggling out at some point. Finding the wire loop again is a total pain once your pom is fluffed up, so make sure it’s a nice tight knot.
Now it’s fluffing time! Just a reminder that tissue paper is incredibly easy to rip. No duh, right? But I guarantee that at some point you will tear the paper. Just take it slow and easy. Start by gently lifting the top sheet of paper away from the others.
The first piece or two should go straight up. The easiest way to do this without ripping the paper is to put your pointy and middle fingers on each side of a fold. Slide them from the outside of the pom towards the middle.
Do this with about four layers of paper on both sides of the loop.
Then flip the pom over and repeat until the whole thing is a big fluffy ball. Puff it up until it looks full and gorgeous.
When you’re ready to hang your poms, it’s as simple as dragging a ladder around and sticking pushpins in the ceiling. It’s ever so helpful to have someone on the ground telling you if the poms are hanging at the right height. There actually is no “right height”. If they’re too low, you’re merely inviting all small children to try to jump up and hit them. I think about about 7 feet off the ground is nice so that tall fellows don’t get bopped in the head.
Tie the fishing line from each pom onto the pushpins and you’re all set. I bet you’ll be so thrilled you’ll consider leaving the poms up long after the party has ended.