diy project: kate’s straw “coral” table decor

while i was cleaning out my random kitchen drawer, i realized i had a giant pack of drinking straws that was just gathering dust. i know i’m supposed to hate plastic, but i just can’t ignore the awesome craft potential in the humble drinking straw. they are one of those items in the marketplace that seem handier for crafts than they are for their intended purpose, like pipe cleaners and wooden clothespins. this project idea began as a chandelier, but i couldn’t find the right shape for the light fixture (stay tuned because i promise to make a coral chandelier when i do find the right one!) so i had to shift gears. i decided to create a faux coral centerpiece for a summer dinner instead, and it was so surprisingly easy i added some napkin holders to boot. this project is mostly drying time and stringin’ straws – perfect for a lazy afternoon. have fun! –kate

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


1. plastic drinking straws (bag of 200)
2. elastic cord
3. large embroidery needle
4. scissors
5. exacto knife
6. cutting mat
7. white primer spray paint
8. coral/red spray paint
9. twig
10. tea lights


spray paint :$5
straws: $2
elastic cord: $1


4 hours (mostly drying time)


For the coral branch:
1. spray paint the twig with white primer paint. once the coat is dry, spray again with the coral/red spray paint. let dry completely.

2. while the twig is drying, cut about 100 straws in half with scissors. Use your exacto blade to make a slit that is roughly 1/2″ long in the center of each piece of straw. make sure you go through both sides of the straw to create a hole.

3. Thread all of the straw pieces onto the twig through the slit you’ve cut. push as many of them on the twig as you can fit, and twit them in all different directions. once the twig is covered in straws, you can cut the straws to different widths to vary the shape of the “coral”.

4. spray paint the coral piece with white primer and let dry. turn around and spray from all different angles to cover evenly.

5. once dry, paint over in coral red. let dry.

6. tuck tea lights in on top of the coral.

for the napkin rings:

1. thread the elastic cord through the needle. you need about an 8″ length of cord.

2. pierce about 30 straws through the center and thread onto the cord. when you have them all on the cord, tie the ends of the cord together and knot twice to create an elastic ring.

3. use your scissors to cut the straws at different widths, twist around the straws so they poke out at all angles.

4. spray the napkin ring in white primer from all different angles, making sure to cover all surface. let dry, then cover with coral red paint. let dry completely.


  1. ginny branch stelling says:

    this is a great idea! simple and a great upcycled project! will also work for my growing collection of stripey straws!

  2. Sarah says:

    what a clever idea! filing for later…

  3. Yanet says:

    What a great idea!! I’m going to try it for my home’s beachy decor. What spray paint color did you use?

  4. oh my, love and so cute!

  5. Bird says:

    Clever and cool!


  6. Nadine says:

    This is awesome! I love the look of bright red deep water coral, but it’s so environmentally un-friendly to actually buy and use the real thing. Thanks for a wonderful alternative!

  7. almalu says:

    love this!so cute and easy to do!

  8. Just says:

    this project is stunning!I love it!

  9. Karen says:

    Very clever. They could also stand in for fire crackers for a Chinese New Year decoration! or the Fourth of July!

  10. Dulcie says:

    I love it! It would look great as a necklace too.

  11. Anabel says:

    This is so clever, simple, and the result, so striking…!
    With translucent straws and blueish paint, an icy effect could be achieved.

  12. elle pee says:

    Wow, what a great idea! I think I will start hunting for coral, or bright-red straws… to make my life a little easier. I love how the dyi’er cut the straws to different lengths in the table centerpiece.

  13. hena tayeb says:

    wow.. they looks great.. awesome idea.. and to think they’re just straws..

  14. Anon says:

    This is great!

    …and, it certainly brings back memories from when I was a VM for Anthropologie and stringing straws for three weeks straight in preparation for the Holiday displays (the straws were to emulate icicles)!

  15. Claire says:

    wow!! such a great (and cheap!) idea! you would never think that they are made from straws…of all things. I might just have to try this…


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.