How to Make A Paper Lantern For Kids, Party Décor & More

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Paper lanterns bring a touch of quirky fun to your décor, whether you decorate in an Asian style, want temporary flair for a party or just want an inexpensive, creative look for your lighting needs. Making a paper lantern for a child’s room is a fun weekend craft project, or you can celebrate your artsy side by transforming a purchased paper lantern from plain to spectacular. Either way, these staples of Chinese decorating are a great way to bring a dramatic, personalized touch to your room.

How To Make A Paper Lantern

You can make a paper lantern using a balloon as a form. It’s an easy craft for elementary age children, and they will love decorating their rooms with the results.

You will need:

  • Large round balloon
  • White glue and water, mixed 50/50
  • Colored tissue paper, torn into pieces
  • Inexpensive, 1-inch paintbrush
  • Hole punch
  • String or yarn
  • Battery operated tea light
  1. Inflate balloon to desired size.
  2. Hold balloon at the tied end. This will be the top of your lantern. You will need to leave enough space at the top of your lantern for your hand to fit inside.
  3. Using paintbrush and glue mixture, wet a section of the balloon, and lay a piece of tissue paper in the glue. Be sure to leave enough of the top of the balloon bare to fit your hand.
  4. Continue using glue mixture to attach tissue paper pieces to the balloon. You will need at least 5 to 6 layers of tissue paper to create a sturdy lantern.
  5. Use lighter color tissue for the first three layers, and then feel free to switch to darker or brighter colors. This will allow light to shine through the lantern.
  6. If desired, create designs with the tissue paper in your final layers. You can make dots, swirls, cut paper into lines, or any other desired design.
  7. Let the paper mache dry overnight.
  8. Pop the balloon. Gently peel the balloon pieces away from the inside of the lantern and dispose of it. If necessary, gently push the sides of the lantern back into shape.
  9. Use a hole punch to make two holes evenly spaced at the open edge of the lantern. Tie string through each hole so you can hang the lantern.
  10. Set the tea light inside the lantern, and switch on when desired.
  11. Hang the lantern from the bedroom ceiling, or wherever it will be enjoyed.
how to make a paper lantern for kids parties how to make a paper lantern for kids parties

How To Decorate Paper Lanterns

If you are after a more symmetrical, grown-up decorating style, you can decorate purchased paper lanterns in a variety of ways to give just the touch of whimsy your room needs.

Start off with paper lanterns in your color of choice. You can find lanterns in a range of sizes at party shops, import stores like Cost Plus, craft stores, or online at websites specializing in party supplies. If you want to use your lantern as a light, invest in a paper lantern cord kit, which will hold an LED bulb in the lantern and usually have an on/off switch. Do not use incandescent bulbs in your lantern, as that would be a fire hazard.

Lacy Lanterns

You can create a lantern with a lacy appearance that will look beautiful at a formal party, a wedding, or just be a wonderful decoration in a shabby chic or eclectic bedroom. If you prefer a less feminine, old-fashioned look, follow the same technique but use brightly colored tissue paper circles in place of the doilies.

You will need:

  • Paper lantern
  • Cord kit (optional)
  • Paper doilies
  • Double-sided tape
  • Scissors
  • String
  1. Cut paper doilies in half. Cut out a semicircle from several, sizing the cuts so the doilies will fit around the opening on the top of the lantern.
  2. Use double-sided tape to attach the cut doilies around the opening of the lantern.
  3. Using more tape, attach another layer of doilies around the lantern, spacing them below the top layer, and alternating them for a fish scale pattern.
  4. Continue to place doilies in alternating rows, spacing them evenly.
  5. To finish the bottom of the lantern, cut some doilies into quarters, and fill in gaps with the cut doilies.
  6. Use string to hang the lantern, light with cord kit if desired.

Floral Lantern

Use faux flowers to create a retro lantern that will be fantastic for use in your bedroom or dining area, or as a decoration at your next big event.

You will need:

  • Paper lantern
  • Cord kit (optional)
  • Hot glue gun
  • Faux flower garland
  • String
  1. Remove the flowers from the garland base. If there are any stems or long pieces, trim them so the flowers can lie flat.
  2. Use the hot glue gun to attach flowers around the lantern. Space the flowers evenly with a little bit of overlap for full coverage.
  3. Light the lantern with the cord kit, if desired.
  4. Use string to hang where the lantern can be admired.

Paper lanterns are a low-cost way to add big color, fun and style to any room, and work great as festive decorations for a party. It’s so easy to turn a plain lantern into something special, after your first try you will be hooked on creating lanterns for every occasion.

Last Updated: February 27, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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