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Extreme Decorating: Exploring the Towel Animal Kingdom

Towel origami swans wait to greet their future admirers at a Costa Rican hotel.

Towel origami swans wait to greet their future admirers at a Caribbean hotel.

(Note: “Extreme Decorating” is an ongoing series in which WallCandy Dad goes beyond removable wall stickers or reusable wall decals and explores unusual decorating ideas tried in homes, restaurants, hotels, businesses, tourist destinations and public spaces. We all get decoration inspiration from different places, as it is a reflection of our tastes and personalities).

I’ll admit it: The difference between entertaining my kids and entertaining myself is often negligible.

During a recent family vacation to the Caribbean, I was enchanted when the hotel staff each afternoon surprised us with new folded towel animals decorating the tops of our freshly made beds. How DO they get the towels to stand up like that? How do they get cotton cloth to bend like it is a giant pipe cleaner?

I don’t know the answer to that mystery, and quite frankly, I prefer to keep being amazed by the little things.

Carnival Cruise delights its passengers with different towel animals every day.

Carnival Cruise delights its passengers with different towel animals every day.

The widely acclaimed King of Towel Animal Creation is Carnival Cruise Lines. They may not have invented origami, but they certainly have applied the ancient art with consistency and passion. According to USA Today, Carnival claims to be the first to introduce the cuddly creatures to cruise ships (they are a staple part of most cruise lines today) and now churns out more than 10 million of them each year.

Perhaps most impressive was this Towel Animal Zoo that was created on the Lido Deck of their Carnival Sunshine ship last year. The ship’s staff woke up three hours earlier than normal to fold 206 DIFFERENT kinds of animals and left them to greet passengers on the pool chairs below:

Towel animals take over the pool deck of a Carnival Cruise ship.

Towel animals take over the pool deck of a Carnival Cruise ship.

As you might imagine, the animals provide endless word-of-mouth advertising for the cruise lines as most passengers are instantly compelled to pull out their mobile phone and share their surprise on social media.

towel elephant

Not everyone is a fan of the genre, however. At a recent Association of Cruise Experts conference in Birmingham, England, television personality Alex Polizzi mocked the practice. Polizzi is the star of “The Hotel Inspector,” a weekly “quest to turn Britain’s hotels of horror into relaxing retreats.”

“When I step out of the bath or the shower, I want a clean, fresh towel,” she told the conference. “I just don’t like the idea that someone has been manipulating it.The only place where a towel animal is appropriate is Disney.”

I’m a bit more trusting than Polizzi and give the hotel staff the benefit of the doubt that they washed their hands before touching my towels.

If you’d like to learn the art of towel origami yourself — perhaps for your kids or when you are hosting out-of-town visitors — check out “The Ultimate Towel Folding Guide” Infographic created by British home furnishings retailer Terry’s Fabrics. An excerpt is shown below:

Instructions for folding a Towel Elephant. To try your hand at towel origami, double click on the elephant's trunk!

Instructions for folding a Towel Elephant. To try your hand at towel origami, double click on the elephant’s trunk!

As an aside, I see many parallels between towel origami and removable wall decor. Both are meant to be appreciated in the moment with the full understanding they can be rearranged on a whim.

In case you didn’t notice, the WallCandy universe is a removable, stickable Noah’s Ark of animal decor. For starters, check out our new Origami Zoo Wall Decals, which pay tribute to the same skills that make millions of hotel and cruise guests so happy!

Origami Zoo Animal Wall Stickers include lions, monkeys, snakes, giraffes, camels, dolphins, elephants and bears. (Double click for more info!)

Origami Zoo Animal Wall Stickers include lions, monkeys, snakes, giraffes, camels, dolphins, elephants and bears. (Double click for more info!)

(What inspiring towel origami have you seen recently on your vacation? Please share your pics and memories on the WallCandy Facebook page or on the WallCandy Pinterest Boards!)

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