Temari-Inspired Surprise Balls


A puzzling design of layered thread, temari balls have been a traditional Japanese craft for over one thousand years and are still popular today. When we traveled to Japan, we saw beautiful temari balls in markets and museums, further proving the point that this handicraft has indeed been around for many years, but lives on in modern day. Temari balls are created by making a core base and wrapping layers of yarn, thread, paper or fabric around it to create a round shaped ball. Each temari ball is different, but typical patterns you can find are geometric and symmetrical. A lot of designs will also include some element of nature, which is a popular focus in Japanese tradition and culture. Temari are traditionally given as a gifts, and symbolize friendship, loyalty and good luck. It’s traditional for a mother to make her daughter a ball as a New Year’s gift. We loved this tradition and after speaking with some moms in the office, we realized that this craft lives on in the U.S. too. One Tea mom makes something very similar to a temari ball, for gifts for her little citizen, called surprise balls. After doing some digging we found out it is really popular! Here we’re sharing an activity perfect for gifts for the holidays, inspired by the temari balls. If you want to learn and try your hand at making a traditional temari ball, head on over to TemariKai.com where you can find step-by-step instructions. 

temari balls

  • Fine crepe paper in various colors
  • Assorted candy, small toys or little trinkets
  • Quick drying glue


Prepare your supplies by cutting the paper or streamers into three strips, 1″ inch wide, per color.

Grab your largest item and start wrapping it with one color, working in a criss-cross pattern. When you reach the end of your strip, continue adding the other two strips of the same color. Add a small dab of glue at the end of the last strip to seal it.

temari balls

Now, pick the next largest gift and add it to your shape. When you add in gifts you want to place it in a space that makes sense to create a ball shape. Begin wrapping it in a new color. If you have room, add in another small gift. Continue adding items and wrapping, starting with a new color when you run out of strips.

temari balls

All the while, making sure you are adding them strategically so that it is starting to resemble a ball.

temari balls

As you get close to the end of your gifts, make sure they are the smallest and flattest. By the end of your wrapping (and the end of your streamers), you’ll hopefully have a ball!

temari balls

Once the ball is finished, you can decorate it with thinner strips, in any pattern you want!

temari balls

Give them as gifts and watch as your kids unwrap each layer and find the gifts!

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