How to make impressive 3D paper snowflakes in 5 easy steps

The INSIDER Summary:

• 3D paper snowflakes are surprisingly easy to make.
• Just accordion-fold the paper first before cutting a pattern.

• Then carefully unfold and tape the edges together.


Nearly everyone has made paper snowflakes before — but this 3D take on the holiday craft classic is next level. A friend of mine taught me how to make these accordion-style paper snowflakes years ago, and, ever since, it has been an annual holiday craft tradition in my household.

The steps are adapted from a 2011 blog post by designer Jessica Jones. We changed up the instructions slightly to make the process less labour intensive, though. 

Watch our short video tutorial to see how it’s done, and then keep reading for the detailed step-by-step instructions.

Ready to learn? Let’s do it.

1. Gather your supplies: Paper, scissors, and tape. 

You can technically use any type of paper (even wrapping paper!) but we prefer starting with a long rectangular piece. The ratio of width-to-length is important for these snowflakes. 

Since you can make them any size, how big or small the paper is is up to you. Just make sure the length is nearly twice the size of the width. 

2. Accordion-fold the paper along the shorter side.

Start by folding the shorter edge — you want the fold to be about 3/4 of an inch. Then flip the paper and fold it back onto itself. Try to get the folds as close to exactly the same size as possible.

Repeat until the entire paper is folded like an accordion. Cut the last fold off if the size doesn’t match up perfectly.

3. Trim the edges and fold whole thing in half.

If your edges are uneven, simply trim the paper to make it one perfect line. Then fold it half. 

We recommend bringing the two edges together so they’re in line, and then press down towards the center until you make a crease at the middle. 

4. Unfold the paper and cut a symmetrical pattern one side at a time.

Cut a pattern into each side of the folded paper. The entire thing is too thick to cut both sides at once, so you’ll have to carefully make sure you’re mirroring the pattern on each side. 

Matching cuts are important, since it will make the snowflake look like one cohesive pattern once it’s unfolded.

Our pro-tip — cut out larger patterns and leave more negative space. The snowflakes look coolest when there’s a lot of cut-out paper.

Make sure you don’t cut all the way through the folds, too! 

5. Unfold the edges towards each other and tape together.

This is the trickiest part, but it will become easier the more you practice. Hang in there.

Lay your cut and folded paper down, and then peel two of the edges towards each other. You’ll be able to see where they should connect (this depends on the pattern you cut).

Using small piece of tape, carefully tape these edges together.

Repeat on the other side. 

Because the accordion-fold will try to force the snowflake to one side, use your fingers to re-crease the inner folds to help force them into an even and circular pattern.

Voila! You’ve (hopefully) just made a super-cool paper snowflake. As we said earlier, practice makes perfect with these guys. Keep experimenting with different patterns and paper sizes — you can make miniature snowflakes for decorating a Christmas tree or your office desk, or you can make giant ones and hang them in windows for a festive flair.

Happy crafting to all from the INSIDER team!

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