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.


ginny branch stelling

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


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


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!


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


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

elle pee

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.


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)!


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…