In the spirit of the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend, we wanted to share the brilliant concept of sparkless paper sparklers with you! Just in case the idea of a group of five-year-olds brandishing hot, sharp metal skewers doesn’t quite fit the celebratory mood and pary atmosphere you’re going for.
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While sparkler fireworks and firecrackers are a traditional part of the festivities, they may not always be the safest option for little ones. That’s where this easy (and inexpensive!) DIY party supply comes in, providing a flameless alternative to firecrackers that perfectly captures the essence of the 4th of July.
With their red, white, and blue colors and eco-friendly sparkle, these sparkler firework crafts let kids indulge in a fun process art project, AND keep them safe from the risks of real sparklers.
You don’t have to save these speckled DIY sparklers for summer, either. Use them as a kids’ birthday paper craft activity and take-home favor, or pair them with a New Year’s Eve paper chain countdown for festive, fluttery flair! In fact, we might need to make a couple just for general conversations here at b&b HQ – because everything is more fabulous when you are waving a handful of dazzling shimmery paper fringe around, right?
Our handmade paper sparklers are one of those projects that welcome variations – strip them down to the most uncomplicated, fastest process, or add lots of lovely details – we have so many ideas for you in the instructions. They’re also an excellent way for kids to recycle and reuse their spray bottle spray paint fireworks art pieces!
Pair these homemade sparklers with our DIY rainbow noisemakers or make lovely flameless DIY lanterns for the coolest kids’ evening celebration accessories.
To make your own kid-friendly paper sparklers, you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains either our own printable products, or Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- Assorted colors of cardstock
- Craft dowels, wooden chopsticks, or twigs
- Gold acrylic paint
- A foam brush or small spray bottle
- Glitter cardstock (like this)
- Acrylic paint in assorted colors
- A hot glue gun or craft glue
- Raffia or dried grasses
- Ribbon or yarn
How to Make Kid-Friendly Paper Sparklers – DIY Instructions:
Our DIY paper sparkers tutorial will guide you through creating a fireworks centerpiece that embodies the spirit of the 4th of July without the need for fire.
Cut paper and gather sparkler “wands.”
Gather your supplies. I cut standard letter-sized cardstock in half (roughly), so I had rectangles that measured 5 or 6 inches in length and 8.5 inches in width. I also picked out two colors of cardstock for each sparkler – it’s unnecessary, but I think it creates visual depth and adds to that sense of sparkle!
I quickly painted these craft dowels with black acrylic paint (it soaks in fast and dries in roughly five minutes), but you can skip the paint and use anything you prefer or have on hand. Chopsticks, straws, or even sticks would work!
Add gold paint “sparks.”
I added some simple sparkle to our paper using a spray bottle filled with roughly 1 tablespoon of gold acrylic paint and a quarter cup of water (as we did for our fireworks process art). I stacked our paper pieces on a cookie sheet and then hit them with the spray bottle so we’d have strips of gold sparkle across the tops of each piece of paper.
For younger kids who might have trouble putting these sparklers together on their own, this step is a fun way to get them involved.
You can skip the spray bottle painting and use a foam brush or paintbrush to brush a thick strip of gold paint across the top two or three inches of each paper. OR simplify the process even more and totally skip the paint by using shimmery glitter cardstock.
Note: Once dry, I flipped our papers over and spray-painted the opposite sides. It’s not necessary, but it adds more gold sparkle, which is the real highlight of these.
Create crinkled paper (optional).
Repeatedly fold and ball up your paper pieces to create a crinkled paper effect. This step isn’t necessary, but I think it helps the paper “sparks” catch the light from many different angles. Also, kids LOVE making sparkly paper snowballs – ha!
Once adequately crinkled, smooth out so each piece is semi-flat again.
Cut strips into your paper pieces to create fringe.
Cut your paper pieces in half, then create fringe by cutting thin strips into the paper – being sure to stop 1 to 1.5 inches before you reach the bottom.
Affix the paper fringe to the dowel rod with tape.
Use a sticky clear or electrical tape to affix your first piece of fringe onto the end of your dowel rod. Wrap the fringe around the rod tightly until you reach the end. Secure with another small strip of tape.
If you think your paper sparklers will get a lot of intense waving, you may want to line the bottom of your paper strips (where they meet the dowel rod) with a hot glue gun or craft glue instead of using tape. Although, the tape worked fine for our purposes and these have held up for over a year now!
Add layers of sparkly paper fringe.
Keep wrapping the rest of your paper layers on top of your first, tightly securing it with sticky tape.
Finish and wrap with tape.
Add all four paper spark fringe layers and secure with a final 1 to 2-inch strip of clear tape or wrap with a long piece of electrical tape.
And now you’re officially ready to celebrate a Yankee Doodle Dandy day. Fire up our “this land is our land” playlist over on Spotify, and prepare to sparkler-flutter your heart out!
Paper Sparkler Tips and FAQs
Can paper sparklers be reused?
Yes! One of the joys of paper sparklers is that you can use them over and over.
After a humid summer day and lots of waving, I found ours were a little limp due to the moisture in the air. Setting them in a cool, dry corner of the house dried them out, and after a year, I still have ours sitting in a vase among the craft supplies.
Can I use tissue paper instead of cardstock?
Absolutely! After experimenting with tissue paper, I thought the cardstock held up better over time (if you plan on using these for decor or keeping them around) but it works perfectly well for an easy kids craft.
You can also use both cardstock and tissue paper for a paper sparkler with more texture.
Are there other kid-safe alternatives to sparklers?
Bubbles, biodegradable paper confetti or nature confetti (leaves or flower petals), paper pinwheels, kid-safe DIY lanterns, ribbon wands, and handmade noisemakers are all great ways to give kids something to wave, toss, or carry at celebrations.
Eight Fantastic Occassions for DIY Paper Sparklers
- Paper Parade Sparklers – These lightweight accessories are perfect for little parade-goers. They’re easy to carry, and if you happen to lose one, making another is a breeze.
- DIY Cake Sparklers – Add a festive touch to any cake by using paper sparklers as decorations. Just remember to remove them before lighting any candles!
- Handmade 4th of July Centerpieces – Create a simple yet eye-catching tablescape using kid-friendly sparklers as the centerpiece for your Independence Day celebrations. I plunked our collection in a tall, thin vase, making for wonderfully minimal (and functional) table decor – no arranging necessary!
- Sparkling Party Favors – For events like birthday parties, barbecues, and graduations, pre-made paper sparklers can be gifted as toppers for hand-delivered invitations or used as party favors. Alternatively, you can set up a paper sparkler craft station where kids can create their own to take home as party favors.
- Wedding Kids’ Table – Distribute paper sparklers at the kids’ table for a safe, fun, and interactive accessory that can wave to welcome the new couple to their wedding reception. They make exceptional photo props too!
- Classroom or School Performances – Teachers and students can utilize paper sparklers for colorful and engaging classroom decorations or as props in plays and other performances.
- Cultural Celebrations – Customize your kid-safe sparklers to match the colors of specific cultural festivals (such as red and gold for Chinese New Year or green, white, and orange for St. Patrick’s Day) for an inclusive party supply.
- Sports Events – Kids can show support for their favorite sports teams during games or matches by creating paper sparklers in team colors and waving them to cheer on the players.
Paper Sparkler Color Theme Inspiration
- Wedding: For a wedding, use a combination of white, gold, and silver tissue paper for the sparklers. Add delicate lace or ribbon accents to give them an elegant and romantic touch. You can also include small pearls or rhinestones for added sparkle.
- Graduation: For a graduation, use the school colors as the primary colors for the paper sparklers. Incorporate gold or silver tinsel or metallic accents to represent the graduate’s achievements. Add small cut-out diplomas, graduation caps, or other graduation-themed embellishments for a personalized touch.
- Baby Shower: For a baby shower, choose pastel colors such as light pink, baby blue, lavender, or mint green, depending on the baby’s gender or the parents’ preference. Add small paper or fabric flowers, cute animal shapes, or polka dots for a sweet and charming effect.
- Halloween: For a Halloween celebration, use a combination of orange, black, and purple tissue paper for the sparklers. Decorate them with small cut-outs of pumpkins, ghosts, or bats, and add a touch of sparkle with silver or gold glitter accents.
- New Year’s Eve: For a New Year’s Eve celebration, create paper sparklers using a combination of black, gold, and silver tissue paper. Add sparkling glitter, sequins, or metallic accents for a festive and glamorous look. Incorporate small cut-outs of stars, clocks, or the numbers representing the upcoming year to enhance the theme.
These quick and easy party favors are not only a fantastic patriotic craft, but they can also be made by kids themselves, adding a personal touch to your celebrations. So, whether you’re gearing up for a Happy Fourth of July or planning for New Year’s Eve, our sparkler firework craft will light up the occasion in a safe, flameless, and eco-friendly way.
More Festive Kids Crafts and Activities for Summer Celebrations
Hosting a summer celebration and using these for a kids’ party or kids’ table for a BBQ? Print out a set of our summer doodle books and grab some kids’ game ideas from our HUGE collection of summer backyard play activities. Add a station where kids can make mini hamburger cookie treats (wait until you see these…!) and invite guests to art the sidewalks with DIY sidewalk chalk paint.
yay! reusing can be so much fun…this is fantastic! Love the idea. BTW- the produce bags work great for keeping produce fresh.longer…so far, so good. Very light weight organic material. 🙂