Know Your Party Hats

A party hat transports you back to your childhood when parties were something you looked forward to. Wear party hats if you need some help getting into the party mood! When you put one of these on, you’ll have instant party magic whether you celebrate with your friends, family, strangers, pets, or alone.

Learn more about this type of hat here.

What Is a Party Hat?

A party hat is any of several types of celebratory hats, most commonly in the form of a conical hat crafted with thin paperboard with designs on the outside and a long string of elastic serving as a chinstrap, going through one side of the cone’s base to another to secure it to the person’s head. Party hats are commonly seen at birthday parties, particularly by the honoree or New Year’s Eve parties.

In the UK, the hat is made of paper and shaped like a crown, and it is typically worn at a Christmas dinner, which is different from the typical Santa hats. The hat is usually obtained by cracking a Christmas cracker with someone near themself at the dinner table.

The History of the Party Hat

The party hat evolved from the sanbenito or dunce cap worn by misbehaving or underachieving schoolchildren from the 19th to 20th century, with its festive décor and society’s positive outlook toward the wearer suggesting a relaxation, or even reversal, of such social norms.

Non-conical hats indicate the informal and festive nature of an occasion, including balloon hats, decorated top hats, and Mickey Mouse ears. The beer hat, also known as a “beer helmet,” was invented by Steve Nelson in 1985 and consists of beer cans attached to a stiff hat with a straw directing from the cans to the wearer.

DIY Party Hat


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Everyone loves wearing a fun party hat to a party, but purchasing party hats can be costly and tedious. Why not make one this year? You can make a party hat from paper, glitter, glue, and other materials. Homemade party hats are simple, creative, enjoyable, and reusable.

Preparing the Paper

Take a stack of brightly colored paper. Choose any color you prefer for the main color of your party hat.

You can even use leftover construction paper or buy some tagboard paper. The latter is thinner than the poster board and much closer in thickness to the traditional party hat. Purchase some textured or patterned paper if you want to get creative.

Make a circle out of your paper. The circle should be around ten inches in diameter for an adult’s hat and about nine inches for a child’s hat. Before cutting, trace a perfect circle onto the paper with a pencil and a paper plate.

Cut a smaller or bigger circle into the paper to make the hat shorter or taller. To make a tall, very large hat, cut a circle 12 inches or bigger in diameter.

Cut a circle with a six-inch diameter to make a smaller hat (for a doll or a pet). Try staying as close to the drawn line as possible when cutting your circle to ward off jagged edges.

Form a small triangular strip from one of the circle’s sides. The bottom of the cutout should be wider and taper into the center point of the circle.

Fold your circle from top to bottom, gently crease it, and unfold it to find the center. Then, evenly fold the circle in half from left to right, gently crease it, and unfold it again. The circle’s center should now have a small point in the middle.

Making Your Hat

blue and pink polka dotted party hats on a table with other party decor

Bend one side of your cutout over the other to create a cone shape. A seam must be formed by one side of the paper overlapping the other.

You can make your cone as narrow or wide as you wish, but it must be large enough to fit your head. The tighter you squeeze your cone, the thinner and taller your hat will appear.

At the seam, tape, glue, or staple the paper together. This will be the foundation for your party hat.

Use liquid glue or a glue stick if you want a clean seam. Hold the two parts together for a couple of minutes to allow the glue to stick.

Tape or staples are much more visible but take less time to apply. Tape the seam with vibrant washi tape to incorporate a little flair.

With a hole punch, create two small circles on opposing sides of the hat. Since you’ll tie a string or elastic to these holes, form them in the bottom of your hat along either side.

Place the hat on your head like you’re going to wear it when you’re finished to figure out where to place the holes. Make dots with your pencil in front of your ears, and put a hole in each dot.

Make use of paper reinforcement rings to reinforce the holes. You can find these in various colors at any office supply store. You can also reinforce the holes by layering clear tape on top of them and re-punching the openings through the clear tape.

Decorating Your Hat

Cut a foot of elastic or string and tie each end in a small knot to the hole punches. The strap should go under your chin to keep the hat in place.

Hold a longer piece of elastic or string to each side of the head to determine the exact length to cut if you prefer to be more precise with the strap length. If you want a fancier chin strap, use ribbon instead of elastic or string.

To add a decorative border to the bottom of your hat, use a ribbon, lace, colorful paper, or any other material. Stick the border to your hat with glue, tape, or staples.


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The border will hide the two chin strap holes, holding the string in place and concealing the small knots. Make the border however you want it to appear! You can add a straight piece of ribbon, waves of lace, or fringed paper to the hat’s bottom.

With a small paintbrush, set some clear glue to your hat. This will let you incorporate glitter.

Brush the glue all across your hat, or paint a few tiny strips here and there. If you like to make less of a mess, use a glue stick.

While the glue remains tacky, sprinkle on the glitter and let it dry for two to three minutes. You can put any glitter color you want. Tap off excess glitter so it doesn’t fall all over the place when wearing your hat.

Add whatever detail or embellishment you like to your party hat. If desired, glue on some tassels or place a ball of yarn on the top. The joy of making your party hat is that you can decorate it however you want, so get creative!


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