I've noticed that there have been a lot of tutorials for origami water balloons this year, so when I finally decided to pick up a piece of paper and test out the folds, I had the idea to use them for a quick little advent calendar. You might think that making 25 origami balloons would be really difficult and time consuming, but this is one of the easiest origami figures I've ever made and I found the folds to be very basic. After you make two or three, you'll figure out the quickest way to make them. Generally, I would fold all of the creases for one side and then do the other (less flipping).
It took me one Saturday to complete the whole thing and would have gone quicker if I hadn't been trying different methods for the advent portion along the way. One hint I'll give you is to find yourself a thimble for your creasing thumb. Mine got awfully sore around halfway in!
Here's what I did:
Start with a piece of square paper (origami or otherwise) pretty side down (if it has one). Fold it corner to corner.
Then fold it again corner to corner.
You'll end up with this. A little triangle! Unfold it now. (How contrary.)
Using the lines you just folded as a guide, fold the paper into a sort of cross and flatten the sides together so you've got a triangle like this:
Flatten the whole thing down.
Next, follow these folds on both sides of the triangle:
Once both sides are folded as such, lift up one of the four flaps and fold up against the middle triangles.
Fold the edge that extends past the figure back in to make another little triangle.
Open one of the middle triangles (they're like little pockets) and tuck the triangle you just made into that pocket. Do this for all four flaps.
They should tuck inside pretty neatly.
You'll end up with a figure that's got a clear closed end and an obvious open end (well, it should be a tiny-ish hole). Don't blow them up yet (as tempting as it is!).
If you hate my instructions, I found these pretty helpful when I was first figuring it out and, as always, it's best to do a practice figure on a piece of scrap paper first!
This next part is kind of up to you. If you've got different colours of paper like I have, you might want to arrange them in a nice colour order so you don't just get a whole bunch of one colour for two weeks. Then you can number them if you like. The only thing you have to watch for is that the numbers are facing up with the closed point also pointing up. That's important or you'll get upside-down numbers when you go to hang them.
I decided to use a stamp for the numbers, but you could also hand write them or leave them blank. The smooth side of the balloon is another good place for a number if you want. You just have to fold the figure in half lengthwise. I debated for a while on how best to do this. I even thought to leave them blank and put the number on the little flag.
Next, ready the balloons for hanging. This is as easy as grabbing a needle and thread and pushing it through the top or closed part of the balloon and tying the ends to form a loop.
Now the fun part of the advent calendar! I decided to go with written notes and things to do this year instead of using actual candies and treats (some of the written ideas, though, are just for us to get candies or treats), and then I wrote them on a little flag. Just take a skinny rectangular piece of stock paper, fold it in half at a slight angle, and cut the corners to look like little paper ribbons.
Write a fun thing to do on one side of the folded ribbon so you have a written side and a clean side.
You can now blow up your little balloons! Finally we're getting somewhere, right? How exciting! If you find any of them to be a little harder to inflate, gently ease the folds out with your fingers.
Now remember the corners that served as little pockets when you were folding? They're going to be little pockets again for your little paper ribbon. All you have to do is shove it in there with the writing facing in so you can't see it until you pull it out on that day.
I look at an actual calendar when I'm adding the flags. I don't want to have something like, "Go see a new movie" on a week day when Idle Husband's working. I try to pair things up with the dates so they make sense with what we'll be doing at the time.
I hung mine up on a piece of driftwood that I have hanging on the wall. I also think that if you dedicated an entire mini tree to these, it would look really cute, too.
Another good thing to mention is that even though the balloons look really delicate, they're actually pretty tough, so when Christmas is over you'll be able to (carefully) flatten them back down and pack them up to reuse them again next year.