All photos by me

Here’s a Christmas craft for the older children. I learned to make these drinking straw stars during math class in school. (Many years ago.) If you think that’s an odd place to learn handicrafts, you’ll soon see how constructing this star can tie right in with a geometry lesson.

You build these stars from plastic drinking straws, but you don’t want the bendy kind. It can be hard to find straight straws these days, but that’s okay. Just cut the bendy end off and use the shorter straw. Straws of a smaller diameter make a neater-looking star; wide straws are a bit bulky, and don’t come together nicely at the intersections.

I learned the craft using cotton string, but I’ve also used heavy thread. Experiment to see what works best for you. You might even want to try a lightweight wire.

Make your drinking straw star in a single color or multiple colors. Make it big or small. Make several, in different proportions. They’re so much fun to make, you may find yourself with an entire constellation!

(All photos by me.)

Materials

  • Plastic drinking straws
  • Heavy thread or lightweight string
  • Glue (optional)
  • Patience

Tools

  • Ruler
  • Scissors
Step 1

Measure and cut the straws. You will need 30 short pieces and 60 long pieces. The length of the pieces is up to you, and will determine if your star has long spiky points or short squat ones. I cut mine to measure 2 inches and 8 inches.

Step 2

String three short straws and tie them into a triangle. If you are using cotton string, you can usually suck the string through the straw. In this star, I used a heavy thread; I had to thread it onto a heavy embroidery needle and drop it through the straw.

Step 3

String two short straws and connect them to the first triangle to form two triangles. It can be hard to tie a secure knot, so throughout the star-building process I place a drop of glue on each knot.

Step 4

Continue adding two short straws until you have four connected triangles. Make all of your intersections in the star snug, but not too tight.

Step 5

Then string just one short triangle and tie it off. Your construction now forms a little cap instead of lying flat. Make two of these caps.

Step 6

On just one of the caps, string two short straws and tie off to form a point.

Step 7

Continue adding short straws until you have points all around the cap.

Step 8

Now you will join the pointed cap to the plain cap. Attach each point to a joint around the perimeter of the plain cap.

Step 9

Attach points all the way around...

Step 10

...until you have a sphere. (Mine turned out a bit loose-jointed, but it still worked.) This is the center of your star. Each of the triangles on this sphere will be the base of a star point.

Step 11

Now for the star points. Attach your string to a joint on the sphere. String two long straws and tie off to an adjacent joint.

Step 12

Attach your string to the third joint of that triangle. String one long straw and tie it off to the first two to form a long point.

Step 13

Keep adding points to the sphere in the same manner, making sure that each triangle gets a point.

Step 14

You'll be able to see if you miss a triangle. It gets a little tricky when you get close to the end. Walk away and take a break if you get frustrated.

Step 15

When each of the center triangles has a point, your drinking straw star is complete.

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Comments

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  • peter-j-marengo Feb 27, 2014 @ 4:20 am
    I stumbled on your site by accident and was delighted to see this. I'm 62 now, and my father taught me how to make these straw stars when I was a teenager; he had learned to make them since HE was a teenager back in the 1930's! It's kind of an old family tradition. I use a slightly different technique but the materials, the basics of the star and the end result are exactly the same. I start by making a "threader" that works beautifully with the standard width straws and makes working the string through them a whole lot easier and faster: I take an old fashioned wire coat hanger and using a pair of needle-nose pliers bend the long part near one end back and forth until it breaks, then do the same to the other end. That leaves a straight, fairly thin metal rod. Now take the needle nose pliers and bend the very end of your wire hanger "rod" into a tight loop; using regular pliers to flatten it a big if the loop is too big. That's it! You now have a long, giant sewing needle that you can tie one end of the string to; simple thread it through each star segment and then tie it off after each section.

    I use a slightly different technique to make the center icosahedron (which is what the 20 equal sided center figure is called). I make it all in one piece! I use my coat hanger "needle" to keep adding more and more straws, threading and re-threading without knotting the string at each intersection, but pulling it fairly snug and occasionally knotting it. It works and saves a lot of time. But as I said, the end result is very similar to yours!
    I personally like to use a 2:1 ratio on the long straws vs. the shorter straws for the center. Partly because I'm lazy and it's just plain easier to cut each straw in half, lol.

    I'm glad I came across your blog; In my entire life I had never known or seen anyone else who made these stars! Very cool! :-)
  • jannbabes Dec 10, 2013 @ 3:30 am
    fantastic way of making a christmas decor and very affordable.
  • sbpiInc Dec 09, 2013 @ 9:00 am
    This is great. Thinking about 1 real big one for my front lawn with a light in the middle.
  • discountcopiercenter Dec 08, 2013 @ 11:05 pm
    Thanks for this creative creation. It is always an issue with the straw after drinking. Now I can make some use of it. Congratulations for the Lens Of The Day.
  • MysticTurtle Dec 09, 2013 @ 9:37 am
    Thank you!
  • COUNTRYLUTHIER Dec 08, 2013 @ 10:47 pm
    That reminds me of dropping eggs from and engineering building years ago. We had to use straws to make a cushioning vehicle for the egg and see if it survived the trip. Great way to be creative and fun.
  • aredey Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:52 pm
    wonderful ! i will make one
  • FreshStart7 Dec 08, 2013 @ 7:18 pm
    Very interesting Christmas craft, MysticTurtle!
  • Centavo Dec 08, 2013 @ 6:53 pm
    Very interesting and amazing. They look wonderful. Well deserving of lens of the day!
  • Mommie-Moola Dec 08, 2013 @ 4:02 pm
    What a fun holiday craft idea!
  • susan-zutautas Dec 08, 2013 @ 3:14 pm
    Fantastic tutorial on how to make a drinking straw star! Congrats on your lens being chosen as LOTD. This looks like a fun project.
  • Susan52 Dec 08, 2013 @ 2:56 pm
    How fun! I absolutely love your intro picture - such big star-brightened smiles! Congratulations on your very cool Lens of the Day!
  • MysticTurtle Dec 09, 2013 @ 9:36 am
    Thanks! That's my son and niece....years ago.
  • d-artist Dec 08, 2013 @ 2:22 pm
    Congratulations on LOTD! I remember my kids making these in school...great project!
  • DebW07 Dec 08, 2013 @ 1:56 pm
    What a fun idea! Congrats on LotD!
  • MysticTurtle Dec 09, 2013 @ 9:36 am
    Thank you!
  • getmoreinfo Dec 08, 2013 @ 1:53 pm
    Really cool and fun idea.
  • DecoratingforEvents Dec 08, 2013 @ 12:20 pm
    How cool! Thanks for the easy to follow tutorial for making a drinking straw star!
  • partybuzz Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:39 am
    Very cool craft idea for Christmas! This will keep the kids busy! Congratulations of LotD!
  • MysticTurtle Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:50 am
    Thank you very much.
  • DANCINGCOWGIRLDESIGN Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:13 am
    Thats a really neat project.
  • Merrci Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:07 am
    This looks like a fun project. Great job on the photos and instructions too!
  • MysticTurtle Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:49 am
    Thanks.
  • adventuretravelshop Dec 08, 2013 @ 8:34 am
    I love this! Thanks so much for teaching us how to do it. CONGRATS for LoTD.
  • MysticTurtle Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:49 am
    Thank you.
  • vallain Dec 08, 2013 @ 8:27 am
    I think I'm too fumble-fingers to do this, but you've explained it very well.
  • MysticTurtle Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:48 am
    Gotta admit, my fingers didn't want to cooperate on this as well as they did years ago!
  • Dec 08, 2013 @ 8:18 am
    we folded ours.... you know, bend bend until you have 5 corners and repeat?
  • MysticTurtle Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:47 am
    I've just learned about that one, and plan to try it. I love the way they look.
  • jimconrad2 Dec 08, 2013 @ 8:17 am
    Wait! There must be a video game that does the same thing. I remember building a Mayan pyramid out of toothpicks back in the day. It was one of my proudest moments. Thanks for the memory.
  • katiecolette Dec 08, 2013 @ 8:12 am
    Great DIY project and excellent instructions. Thanks for sharing!
  • grammieo Dec 08, 2013 @ 8:09 am
    This is a really neat craft idea. Thanks for all the details you provided, I think I could even do this!
  • StephenJParkin Dec 08, 2013 @ 7:11 am
    I think that the forms are an excellent guide to geometrical figures well done on a great LOTD!
  • MysticTurtle Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:49 am
    Thanks!
  • PaigSr Dec 08, 2013 @ 4:36 am
    First LOTD very nice. Second My son loves straws. Unfortunately making things with them is not his thing. Though I shall still try. Thanks for an interesting idea.
  • ErinMellor Dec 08, 2013 @ 4:06 am
    That looks really fun, and challenging.
  • MysticTurtle Dec 08, 2013 @ 9:49 am
    It can be challenging at the end, but it is fun.
  • favored1 Dec 08, 2013 @ 12:02 am
    Good fun for older kids. I'll pass this along. Thanks.
  • scarlettohairy Dec 03, 2013 @ 2:25 pm
    What a cool craft that older kids would really love!
  • tonyleather Dec 03, 2013 @ 11:24 am
    Ingenious and cute. Well done!