I moved from Brooklyn to Berlin with my family in 2010, with a very tenuous idea of what the future held. Now, four years down the road, we’re still here – quite settled, established, and firmly rooted in a wonderful city that delights me every day (although mein Deutsch ist immer noch schlecht). Meanwhile, my toddler daughter is suddenly, out of nowhere, a poised, six-year-old lady who will be starting grade school this fall.
Here in Germany there’s a fantastic tradition of sending kids off to their first day of school with giant paper cornets filled with candy, chocolates and school supplies. These cornets are called schultüten (literally “school cones”). Once I learned what they were, I was a little surprised they hadn’t caught on anywhere else. Making the first day of school sweet and celebratory seems like such a wonderful tradition!
As it turns out, they are also a cinch to whip up with supplies you can find at any craft store. I made my own back-to-school cornet filled with sweets in the shape of – what else – an ice cream cone!
- White poster board
- Packing tape
- Brown kraft paper
- Brown washi tape
- Glue stick
- Measuring tape
For ice cream:
- Quilting-weight fabric and coordinating ribbon
- Wooden beads, matching thread, and a needle (optional)
- White or light-colored tissue paper
- Various small-scale school supplies that will fit inside the cone
Step 1: Make Your Cone
If you aren’t lucky enough to have blank schultüten (cones) winking at you from the stationery shop window in your town, it’s easy to make your own. Take a large sheet of poster board and hold the shorter end facing you. Roll the paper into a cone shape — try to make the bottom nice and pointy — and tape closed with packing tape. Trim the top edge with scissors so it’s straight. You don’t have to fuss so much over that part – just eyeball it.
Measure the height of your cone and add about 1″ (or 2cm). Measure the circumference of the top and add 2” (or 5cm).
Cut out a rectangle of kraft paper that size, and fold in half along the height measurement. Cut diagonally to make a triangle.
Decorate the paper with washi tape, working from the bottom and following the angle of its shape.
Use a glue stick to affix one long edge of the paper triangle to the cone. I find glue stick gives nicer results than liquid glue, because it doesn’t bubble or warp the paper as much.
Glue around the top of the cone and along the loose edge of the paper triangle, and carefully wrap the paper around the cornet, pressing gently as you go. I like to use more washi tape to hide the seam a bit. When the glue is dry, trim off the excess paper with scissors.
Step 2: Add Ice Cream and Gifts
Cut two pieces of fabric: the first will be the same width as your paper triangle (circumference of cone + 2” or 5cm) by 15” (38cm). The second strip will be the same width by 2.5” (6cm). Take the second strip and cut a scallop pattern along one side. Don’t worry about getting it perfect, just go slowly and make the curves as round and smooth as you can. If you’re worried about your freehand cutting skills, sketch the scallop on the fabric first with a pencil.
Tack the scallop down to the cone with a little glue.
With the wrong side facing out, wrap your rectangle of fabric along the top of the cone, layered on top of the scallop. Staple the edge every two inches or so.
Stuff a handful of tissue paper into the bottom of the cone, and then fill it with treats.
Step 3: Tie It Up
After you’ve filled your cornet, stuff crumpled tissue paper on top of it all and draw the fabric closed with ribbon or bakers’ twine. Be sure to use enough tissue paper to make the top poof up like a scoop of ice cream. (Tip: Tie the fabric with a bow so it will be easy for your child to open – nothing too tight, and no fussy knots!) Once you’ve got the scoop of the ice cream looking its best, trim the fabric at the top.
Optional: Personalize your cone by sewing beads to the fabric to make sprinkles, or decorate with glued sequins, colorful buttons, or pom poms. You can also add your child’s name, stickers or a message to the outside of the cone.
Make sure to take a photo of your child proudly holding her Schultüte so you can both remember the excitement of the first day of school!
All photos by Anda Corrie.