May 4, 2011

Flowers, For Me? Allergy-friendly Flowers & Tissue Paper Flower Blooms


It's not that I don't love flowers, but I do have seasonal allergies, and the sneezing has not passed me by this spring--in fact, it seems to be in full force.  With outside offenders brought in, I may never find relief (this is me in all my itchy-eyed, runny-nosed glory as we speak).

The good news is that there are quite a few beautiful allergy-friendly flowers available for Mother's Day or any day of the year.  The list includes: pollen-free varieties of lilies (or just carefully remove the brown anthers at the ends of the stamens), roses, hydrangea, orchids (just avoid touching them--there is a chance of skin irritation), pansies, violas, impatiens, camelias, azaleas, begonias, daffodil, dahlias, daisies (you need to make sure that both the dahlias and daisies are pollen-free varieties), gladiolas, irises, marigolds, petunias, snapdragons, tulips, violets, and zinnia.

If members of your household are highly allergic, try to avoid flowers like: lilies (intact with pollen), amaranthus, coneflowers, peonies, poppies, and mums.

Better yet...make your own tissue paper flowers!  (You knew that was coming, didn't you?)

We had a blast experimenting with our flowers yesterday.  Tristan, 6, could pretty much manage the project by following my step-by-step instructions, but my 4-year-old had difficulty (don't worry--they'll have their own flower-making project tomorrow!).

Colored tissue paper (craft, hobby stores, some stationery stores, chains like Target)
green pipe cleaners or string/yarn/twine
stapler (optional, but helpful to have around for kids)

Here are the steps, complete with some helpful hints for little hands:

1.   Cut out some colored tissue paper into a rectangle (ratio length:width should be about 4:3, like 8" x 6", but it's not an exact science).  You will need about 5 - 8 same or different colored sheets per flower.  Generally I found that the more you stack, the harder it is to pull apart the layers later on--so stick with 5 sheets for the kids.

2.   Stack them neatly.  For kids, I found it helpful to staple the stack in a few places to help keep them from slipping around.
3.   Fold accordian-style (remember making a paper fan in elementary school?) about every 1 inch and trim at ends.  Either cut off corners to make a rounded or pointed petal shape, or cut some fringe. 

Kids can cut ends of paper before folding, as the layered paper will be too thick for kid scissors to cut through.  

4.  Wrap the end of the pipe cleaner around the middle of the folded strip of paper and continue to twist down the "stem." 

If you only have string available, you'll make a stemless version by tying a piece taut around the center of the strip. 

If you want to hang your flowers, you can tie the end of a longer piece of string or ribbon (more likely dad might own fishing line--perfect!) around the center, leaving the tail for hanging later, or for clustering together several flowers.

5.   This part takes some patience: Fan out the layers, and then peel each layer up, separating from the rest of the pack.  Do this little by little. 

For kids, tell them to peel slowly.  It might help some kids to use just thumb and index finger for a gentler touch.  And don't worry!  Most tears can be hidden or repaired.

6.   Do a little more shaping once all of the layers have been pulled up.  IMPORTANT!  I found that the less handling, the better.  Once the tissue paper is bent and played with too much, it tends to lose its shape and rigidity.  Some kids will love to pull the paper this way and that.  I ended up adding a staple to the base of Tristan's flower to pull the two sides together.  Good as new!

7.   Clean up, saving any usable scraps for your Homemade Flower Cards for Mom.

Look how gorgeous!
A bouquet of three yellow flowers.  I stuck the pipe cleaner stems into a straw, taped a few more straws around the center one, and wrapped it in ribbon.  Fasten with a pin, glue, or double-sided tape.  Geez.  I wish I was wearing something a little more spring-like.  Oh well.
Any of the stemless flowers would be beautiful on their own or clustered together as table centerpieces.  Or, top mom's giftbox with a pretty paper bloom.

I made a huge one 20" x 15" and a baby one with some leftover paper.  Clusters can give a fantastic effect!
The stemmed varieties can be placed in vases (weigh down with little stones if you need to) or made into a bouquet tied with a ribbon.

This is actually my little stemless baby flower.  If you find an opaque vase, you can set these right on top.
I got some additional help from the fine people at Cherish on Clement St. in San Francisco.  They have these DIY cards available free upon request.  I went there to pick up the tissue paper for this project and it just so happened they had some tissue paper flower DIY cards.  Score!

Don't forget about the teachers in your lives--teacher's Appreciation Week is going on now!  So make an extra bouquet and slip it on her desk with a note--she'll be seriously impressed.

We accept hugs, kisses, and spa certificates!  Happy Mother's Day!


  1. Absolutely gorgeous, Sarah! What a great way to give beautiful flowers without the sneezies. :)

  2. Love it! I'm giving it a shot tomorrow with the boys!

  3. Would love to see the boys' blooms when they're finished! Take lots of pics!

  4. We tried these for Mother's Days for Great-Grandma, the Grandmas and Aunties. Didn't turn out as nice as yours but I think they still liked it!=D

  5. Jen, I'm sure they were just as darling and just as appreciated by all the mothers in your lives! Happy mother's day!