Updated February 2021

This post contains affiliate links.
Have you ever heard of papel picado? It’s a Mexican folk art tradition of creating beautiful designs out of paper.

Early on, Jean created papel picado with her daughter after reading Carmen Lomas Garza’s Making Magic Windows. They added hearts and created a beautiful wreath for Valentine’s Day!

I was excited to try papel picado as it’s been on my wish list for a few years. My toddler was happy for the chance to use scissors. And my preschooler was able to cut a basic design with some guidance. But this is a really fun art activity for older kids especially (grade school & teens).

Each paper cut design is unique and that alone kept me trying new variations and designs. When finished, string these together for a beautiful garland made by the whole family!

Papel Picado for Kids



Time needed: 45 minutes.

Papel picado is the Mexican folk art of cutting beautiful designs in paper.

  1. Prep materialsGather scissors and tissue paper. Choose the colors of tissue paper you’d like to use. I wanted our garland to be a Valentine decoration so I chose pinks, reds and whites.

2 Cut tissue paper into rectangles.

Choose the size for the papel picado. I think 5×7 is a good starting point.

3 Fold tissue paper

Similar to cutting snowflakes, begin by folding the rectangle in half.

Then fold in half again.

4 Make cut designs

Now here’s the fun part! Begin making your paper cut designs. I chose to use mostly hearts or oval designs.

Then unfold to see what your cuts look like. If you want to add more intricate designs then re-fold and make additional paper cuts.

If you’d like a scalloped look to your design, fold paper in half and cut the bottom in a half moon shape, repeating across the length of the paper.

5 Repeat!

Once I got the hang of it, I found the process to be quite addicting….just one more, right?! Continue creating additional designs until you have enough for a garland.

6 Create garland

If you’d like to create a garland there are a few ways to do this. Fold over the top of the tissue designs over string and use a glue stick to attach. I used washi tape + transparent tape to attach string to the backs of my tissue paper. I like the additional color it adds.