How To Make Chinese Lanterns

Far too long ago, I promised a post about how to make Chinese lanterns. Okay, so maybe it was only a week ago but not only did I not post a tutorial, I didn’t post anything. Fail!



  • Two different colors of construction paper (or cardstock or regular paper but I had this lovely marbled construction paper on hand–I like me a free project)
  • Glue stick (Elmer’s wet glue would probably have worked as well but the glue stick dries faster which means a faster project–I like me a fast project)
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper cut into strips


1.a — Pick which color you want to be your outside color. This is the body of the lantern.

1.b — Fold that paper in half length-wise. On my paper, one side had more prominent marbling so I chose that to be the outside.

1.c — Starting at the folded edge, cut strips into the paper but not all the way through. I left about an inch at the top. I used a paperclip to make my strips even. My sister said that was far too meticulous for her. But it’s my craft so I used a paperclip!


2.a — Take your OTHER paper and cut off about an inch length-wise.

2.b — Cut that strip down a few inches. The first lantern I didn’t do this step and the handle (which is what this strip of paper will be) looked too long for me. Cut it or don’t. Your choice!

2.c — Put some glue on the paper and give to your daughter because she’ll want to help. Maybe only do this step if you’re using a glue stick… I didn’t have to worry if she stuck it on furniture or walls or floors this way.


3.a — Open your first paper and decide where the placement of your handle should be. I chose mine by folding the paper into a circle and then marking where opposite sides of the circle was. Sorry… no picture of that.

3.b — Glue your long strip down on the INSIDE of the cut paper like the picture shows.  I chose to put the marble side IN this time so it could contrast with the outer marbling of the body of the lantern.


4.a — Take strips of tissue paper and glue them to the bottom of the lantern–this is OPPOSITE the handle you made in step 3. I chose three different colors. I glued them on randomly.

4.b — Mine are all different lengths. If too many of them were the same length, I cut ’em. Your choice!

4.c — Notice  that I didn’t put any on one side. That’s because later on, we’ll be making a circle and that part will be overlapping the opposite side so I didn’t want the tissue paper doubling up there.


5.a — Take the remaining piece of your secondary color–the one that we cut the handle strip from.

5.b — Glue it along the bottom of the lantern. Bottom = the side with the tissue paper. Remember the part where we didn’t glue any tissue paper? Don’t glue right there.


6.a — Glue the top of the second paper to the top of the first paper. It’ll look like this.

6.b — Remember to not glue the top where we haven’t been gluing anything. It’ll make sense during the next step.


7.a — Wrap the paper to make a circle. Cone… uh, that shape up there.

7.b — Put the glued side (you know, with the tissue paper and everything) INSIDE the unglued side.

7.c — Glue. (I think I only glued the outside paper because the inside paper stayed just fine without needing anything.) This was probably the hardest step because the outside paper bends and I didn’t want to create another crease.


Actually, you probably want to make more. I made a total of five. All different color combination! It took me maybe an hour once I figured out the quickest technique. (My first lantern was NOT the quick way to do it.)

My first thought at hanging them was strung across some windows in my family room. I quickly discovered that I did not like that. They were just smooshed against the window and looked weird. Maybe if I had a curtain rod up that would give the lanterns some space, but I didn’t. And don’t. So plan b was to hang them from the ceiling somewhere. I had a few different spots in mind but ultimately settled on a corner in my kitchen. That space always looked lonely and I thought some artwork on the wall would fix it up. Well, I still don’t have any artwork up and I still think something on that wall would be great, but for now, I’m enjoying some hanging lanterns.

Another confession: I didn’t hang them. When my family got there that day, they were sitting all ready to be hung… but not hung. So my brother in law gave my brother a lesson on how to figure out where to drill into my ceiling. I knew where I wanted it to be (center in this corner–see where the window is?) and I just needed a hook on the ceiling. NOTE: We installed a cup hook. No anchor or anything. That means whatever I hang here can’t be very heavy or else I will have a hole in my ceiling.

I skipped a step in here. I tied yarn onto all the handles and then hung them from the inner loop of an embroidery hoop. I spaced them how I wanted and then put the outer loop on so the yarn couldn’t move around. My sister actually tied the yarn so that it could be hung from the hook that my brother installed in my ceiling.

Family affair, people.

We are still enjoying these lanterns! And since I love something in that corner now, they will probably stay up until I decide what else to put there. Any guesses on when that will be? Christmas?