How to make a paper lantern

by | Aug 13, 2013 | Uncategorized | 13 comments

Start with an A4 pad of heavy paper or card (or choose a larger size if you like). Fold the long edge and notch it.

 Then cut out ‘windows’. They can be any shape. Decorate around them with paints or coloured pencils.

 Little ones will of course want to join in and make their own.

 On the other side, glue tissue paper or cellophane over the ‘windows’.

 This is how it will look on the outside.

 Then curl it around and staple into a cylinder shape. Cut a circle of card to fit the base and glue or tape it in place. It will sit on the folded, notched tab that you made at the start.

Finally, cut a strip of card to staple to the top to form a handle.

Now, here’s the secret. With such a narrow lantern, it wouldn’t be very safe to put a lighted candle inside. You can now buy little LED tea-light candles at a party or church supply shop. Just click the little switch underneath and your candle is lit. It will even flicker like a real one. They come in different colours. For the lanterns I used yellow as they looked closest to a real flame.

And here it is, your magic lantern, glowing in the dark. Have fun!


  1. Vicki Lane

    Shall try this when my nephew comes to visit!

  2. juliet

    It takes a bit of time Vicki: I did it in stages. But lots of fun too. Thanks for visiting.

  3. Hotly Spiced

    I remember making these when I was little. Haven’t made one for years. Have they gone out of fashion? Because I don’t recall my children coming home from school having made a lantern – such a shame because they are a fun thing to do xx

  4. juliet

    Hi Charlie, I never made them as a child. My granddaughter is at the Steiner School. They hold a very beautiful lantern festival each year, and each child makes their own lantern. So that’s how I learned.

  5. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef

    I haven’t seen a homemade lantern since I was a kid. We did them at Christmas time before bags of sand in bags got popular.

  6. juliet

    Maureen, thanks for visiting. The homemade lanterns are great fun. The main thing with these ones is not to use a lighted candle inside, just keep to the battery tea lights for safety.

  7. Marja

    oh aren’t they gorgeous with all the different colours. You would have made and excellent teacher.

  8. Marja

    oh aren’t they gorgeous with all the different colours. You would have made and excellent teacher.

  9. juliet

    Hi Marja, I’m glad you enjoyed the lanterns. I was an artist before I became a writer, but with craft I don’t feel so confident. However, these worked out quite well, and it was fun so see how different they look when the candles are turned on.

  10. Penny O'Neill

    Thank you so much for sharing the instructions on lantern making, Juliet. I will keep this in mind. I find myself using the little battery operated tea lights more and more (especially since I worry about remembering to blow read candles out).

  11. juliet

    * Penny, glad you enjoyed the instructions. Children love the way the lanterns look so different when they are lit up. I’ve only just discovered the battery tea lights. They are very clever, the way they flicker like real ones.

  12. Lynley

    I must look for the battery operated tea lights Juliet.

    With summer coming we could enjoy those in lanterns if this calmer weather stays in our area.

  13. juliet

    Lynley, they certainly make things safer for children, and are quite cleverly done.


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