How to make a German ‘Schultüte’

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As mentioned in my previous post, children in German receive a ‘Schultüte’ – or ‘school cone’ – when they start school, filled with sweets, school supplies and small gifts. You can buy them ready made in shops or order them online, a few months in advance of the first day of school, or you can make them yourself. If you happen to live in Germany, you also have the option of buying a ‘blank’ cone and decorating it yourself. That’s the easy DIY option. But if you don’t, not too worry, the extra steps of first making the cone are not too hard. I’ll talk you through it.

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I’m going to show you how to make the Schultüte above with the ABC/123 motif, but of course you can decorate it with anything you like. Knights, pirates, Star Wars, superheroes, astronauts, unicorn, butterflies, dinosaurs, princesses…anything goes! I’ve put together a Pinterest board with some inspirations. However, I decided to go a bit old-school and stick to a theme related to first day of school.

To make a Schultüte yourself, you will need:

  • a blank cone in a size of your choice (I went for a 70cm long one)
  • a sheet of patterned wrapping paper
  • a roll of crepe paper (or alternatively tissue paper)
  • a few sheets of coloured craft paper
  • a roll of washi tape
  • a pair of scissors
  • a pencil
  • some glue
  • a length of ribbon

If you are making the cone from scratch, you will also need:

  • a large sheet of poster board
  • a piece of string, at least 1m long
  • a pencil
  • a ruler

Preparation (Step 0)

To make the cone, you need slightly more than a quarter of a circle of card. First, use the ruler to draw a 70cm long line along one side of your sheet of poster board (you can go smaller or bigger if you want, I’m going by the size of ours). Then, attach the piece of string to the end of your pencil. Hold the string down with your thumb at one end of the line you just drew, and stretch out the pencil end of the string to meet the other end of the line. Now use the pencil to draw  a curve – think of it like using a pair of oversized compasses, if you get what I mean. Finally, draw another 70cm straight line with your ruler to meet the curve (see image below for guidance) to create a shape like a slice of pie. The angle between the line should be approximately 105 degrees, but if you don’t have a triangular ruler for measuring angles, you can just eyeball it. The basically needs to be wider than 90 degrees – the shaded area is where you will apply your glue.

Schultuete Template

Now cut our your pie shape and apply glue to one of the straight edges – use the diagram above for guidance, the shaded area is where you apply your glue. You want a good area of glue so that the cone is strong enough to hold when filled with goodies. It would be terrible if it fell apart, because you only applied a narrow band of glue. Anyway, once you have applied the glue, roll the pie shape in to a cone shape and glue it together. Wait for the the glue to dry completely before proceeding! Again, you don’t want it to fall apart.

Decorating Your Cone: Step 1

Okay, we all have a cone, we are ready to decorate it! First, I cut out another pie shape from my patterned wrapping paper. It’s up to you how much of the cone you want it to cover – I made mine 30cm long on each side, which is just less than half the length of the cone. Follow the instructions above (Step 0) for how to create a pie shape. As you can see, I cut the tip off the end, as that made it easier to roll around the cone, but you can just experiment with what works best for you.

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Step 2: 

Wrap the piece of pie shaped wrapping paper you just cut out around the bottom of your cone and glue it in to place. Now tape a length of washi tape over the join to neaten it up (see below). The washi tape will crumple a bit, since you are applying a straight piece of tape to a curved 3D object, but I just made sure the ends lined up and then smoothed out the middle bits as best I could. Because of the pattern on the tape, you don’t really notice the few crumples.

Tip: When gluing on the wrapping paper and sticking on the washi tape, make sure that the seams – i.e. where the ends meet – are in the same place as the seam of the cone. That way you have all the ‘untidy’ bits on the same side, which can be turned round to the back when your child receives his cones – and holds it for all those photos you’ll take!

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Step 3: 

Cut a length of crepe paper, that should be about 35cm wide, and about 20cm longer than the circumference of  the top of your cone. Now glue the crepe paper on to the inside of the cone, with the ends overlapping (as shown below) – if the ends don’t overlap, you will have a gap when you tie up the paper once the cone is filled, and you wouldn’t want anything falling out, would you! Again, remember to keep the seam at the ‘back’.

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This is what it now looks like, with the wrapping paper, washi tape and crepe paper in place.

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Step 3:

Cut out A, B, C and 1, 2, 3 shapes from your coloured craft paper. I decided to make some quick templates first. As mentioned above, you could also cut out different motifs at this point if you wanted to (see the Pinterest board for inspiration).

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Step 4:

Add another length of washi tape to the top edge of your cone, then glue your shapes/ decorations on to the sides of the cone, in between the two strips of washi tape. Again, keeping in mind that you want to have the seam of the cone at the ‘back’, and the focus of your decorations at the ‘front’ of your cone.

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Step 5: 

The fun part – fill your cone with lots of little treats and surprises for the lucky recipient. Sweets, school supplies, small gifts. Put any heavier items at the bottom, so that it doesn’t get top heavy – you wouldn’t want your kid to drop it – and fill any gaps with tissue paper. Then tie a length of ribbon around the crepe paper to close the cone.

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And here’s our finished school cone again. I can’t wait to hand it over to my boy – I hope he likes it! Check out my follow up post, for a peek of what I’ve put inside!

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