I learned how to make hula hoops a few years ago when our family spent a few days at the Starbelly Jam folk music festival. There were dozens of hoops provided by the festival for people to use while listening to music, and that’s where my daughter, Sadie, learned the art. A number of vendors were selling hoops, but they weren’t the flimsy plastic things you find at dollar stores. They were sturdy and they were unique. Each was a different size and they were all individually decorated.
On close inspection I realized that the hoops had been crafted of items found at any hardware store. When we got home a week later I made a couple, just to see how difficult it might be. It wasn’t.
So for my daughter’s active birthday party, I made a dozen hula hoops. Here’s my recipe so you can make them, too.
It doesn’t take long to cut the plastic pipe and create the hoops, and you can make a dozen of them in about an hour. What will take longer is the taping and decorating. In my life I’ve had lots of practice taping hockey sticks, so I’m pretty quick, but it might take you ten to fifteen minutes to carefully tape a larger hoop.
How to make a hula hoop
- Plastic plumbing pipe (Pex is one brand name), three-quarter inch diameter
- Plumbing couplings for the pipe
- Colourful tape
- Ball bearings, optional
- Using snips, cut the plastic pipe into lengths that correspond to the size of the hoop you want to make. Between 7 and 11 feet is a good range. The 8-year-olds I made hoops for range in size and physical literacy, so I created them all at different sizes so that the girls could pick the one that they were most comfortable with. Note that the relationship between size and difficulty with hula hoops is counter-intuitive; up to a point, larger hoops are actually easier to use. (Optional: If you want your hula hoop to be a noise maker, you can put a few ball bearings into the pipe.)
- Use a coupling to join the two pieces of the plastic pipe, creating a circle.
- Use coloured tape to wrap the plastic, which is decorative as well as functional (the tape helps the coupling hold the two ends together). I’ve used electricians tape in the past. This time, I used Duck Tape, which is available in a wide range of colours and designs. Sadie opted for rainbow-coloured peace symbols on her new hoop. Her friends got paint splatters, blue flowers, zig-zags, and hearts.