DIY Paper Lanterns — Perfect for a Chinese New Year Celebration!

We love bringing small celebrations to life with homemade decorations, which add a special and festive touch! Chinese New Year is today, and we’ve spent the week making these super simple DIY paper lanterns. We’re hoping to hang them up while we feast on Chinese food (yum for Dim Sum), eating our dinner with chopsticks (which the children love to eat with!) and ending our meal with fortune cookies with clever little messages. What is not to love about Chinese New Year at home?

These lanterns would be amazing in multiples, hung on a long string or wire. I could imagine the paper lanterns could work for many other celebrations as well, all you need to do is change the paper colour to best fit the event. Whenever and however you use them, I think you will enjoy them.

Materials :

  • Paper — I used A3 sized red paper
  • Glitter — optional, but I love Eco Glitter Fun (safe, biodegradable glitter)
  • Glue and paintbrush or a glue stick
  • Gold paper scraps — I used doilies cut up, but any paper would work
  • Gold and bronze sticker stars
  • Chopsticks — great for holding the lanterns, and the paper can be used to decorate them
  • Ric-a-rac or ribbon
  • Brass paper fasteners or staples or hot glue gun
  • Scissors

There are two styles of lanterns:

Steps to make the Tall Lantern : 

  1. Glue on paper scraps, then add glitter if using.
  2. Let paper dry.
  3. Fold the paper lengthwise in half.
  4. Cut the paper from the folded end to the paper edge into numerous strips, avoiding the top inch and a half of the paper. (Basically you are cutting perforations.) These do not need to be even or perfect, children can do this to make it more fun, this is a forgiving step as long as you don’t cut to the top of the paper.
  5. Add sticker stars if you are using them.
  6. Then create the lantern by bringing the paper around to itself, creating a hollow column, with the top corner and bottom corner overlapping slightly so the paper ‘fans’ out (like above).
  7. Add brass paper fasteners, (or staple, or hot glue), to fasten it securely.
  8. Then from the inside of the lantern, add a little ric-a-rac or ribbon to create a handle.

See, simple! Next, the round lantern…

Steps to make the Round Lantern :

  1. Fold the paper into 8 long pieces. You will use these paper folds as a guide later for cutting.
  2. Decorate the paper with gold paper cuttings and glitter using glue.
  3. Let the paper dry.
  4. Use the paper folds as guides and cut into strips.
  5. Overlap the strips to create a radial design, with all the ends meeting in the middle point.
  6. Use a brass paper fastener (or stapler) to secure the lantern in the centre point.
  7. Then bring all the opposite ends together and secure with another brass fastener.
  8. Add a ribbon handle and you are good to go!

I used chopsticks, still attached together to make handles, just push the ribbon between the chopsticks.

So super easy! And while you are waiting for the paper to dry, in between steps, why not read these fabulous books The Magic Paintbrush, by Julia Donaldson. Or, The Great Race, by Christoper Corr. We also enjoyed The Great Race, by Emily Hiles for slightly younger children/toddlers. They are all fabulous books!

And if you need a trick to introduce children to chopsticks for the true Chinese New Year experience, try our Trainer Chopsticks DIY or Kitasticks.


Lara x


Comments (1)

February 16, 2018

This is a great idea, and I know the activity is centered on Chinese New Year, but it would be nice if you could refer to it as the Lunar New Year! There are many more people than the Chinese who celebrate.

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