You start by cutting open a roll longwise. Then, cut the roll in half crosswise to make two shorter rolls, each will be 2 1/4 inches long. Now, cut a length of decorative paper 5 1/2 inches by 3 inches. Cover the outside of your half roll with this paper. I used wooden clothes pins to keep the paper on the roll until the glue set. (See the photo below.)
Once that's dry, fold the extra edge of paper to the inside, and glue them down as well. A strip of cardstock will still be "naked" on the inside of your opened roll.
We now need to make a liner for the inside of your napkin ring. Cut a strip of decorative paper 5 1/4 by 2 1/4 inches. Glue to the inside of the ring, letting it overlap the edges you folded under from the outside covering. (Again, clothes pins work really well for this.)
Once that has dried, you can reshape the tube using your fingers.
Now we want to join the tube back together. You need a strip of paper 3/4 inches wide and 3 inches long. To this, you can add an embellishment. I went to the clip art offered by Microsoft Word and printed a menorah. I trimmed the menorah and matted it with another piece of cardstock. I punched a hole in the top left corner of the menorah "charm" and used a brad to adhere it to the 3/4 inch by 3 inch strip.
Finally I glued the strip with my paper "charm" around the napkin ring so that it holds the two short edges together and re-completes the circle.
You could easily make personalized rings for each member of your family.
Below is a photo of the toilet paper roll in various stages of deconstruction. You can also see my menorah "charm" with its original blue ribbon bow. I later decided an orange brad was more festive!
PS I added three more fun, fast and thrifty gift ideas to my personal blog. See them at