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Chinese lanterns made from a single sheet of paper
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Chinese Paper Lanterns

What you will make:

Having a family party or barbecue this summer, or for Labor Day? Chinese paper lanterns make colorful and inexpensive decorations. Best of all, they are so quick and easy that you can get the kids involved in making them. Follow the simple instructions in this craft project to make colorful lanterns using a single sheet of paper.

This project requires few materials and is great for family, classroom or group craft time. No advance preparation is needed.

Here's what you need:
  • Colored paper—computer, art or construction paper
  • Pencil and eraser
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Tape or stapler
  • String or twine for hanging lanterns
  • Optional: Markers

This project is rated VERY EASY to do.

How to Make Chinese Paper Lanterns

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Select Paper, Cut Handle and Fold

Start with colored paper to match the color theme of your party. You can use copier/computer paper (letter-size) or construction paper (9" by 12").

Cut off a strip of paper ½" wide from one end of the paper that measures the width of the paper—8½" or 9".

Fold the sheet of paper in half lengthwise.

Step 2: Mark Lines and Cut

Mark a line across the length of the folded paper ½" in from the open edge.

Make marks every ½" along this line, then draw lines at each mark straight to the folded edge—marking ½" wide strips.

Cut on these lines from the folded edge to the original marked line. Cut through both layers of paper. Open the paper flat. If the marks are very noticeable, gently erase them.

Step 3: Tape

Bring the edges together in a cylindrical shape with the cut strips running vertically. Be sure that the fold is on the outside of the lantern. Tape the edges together at the top, middle, and bottom. You may use staples instead of tape.

Step 4: Add Handle and Hang

Attach the handle, cut in Step 1, to one end of the lantern with tape or staples.

The lanterns will stand on their own. They can be hung individually from their handles or loosely tied at intervals along a cord or rope hung overhead.

Warning: This lantern is not meant to be used around fire or hot surfaces like light bulbs.

Ideas for Chinese Lantern Variations
  • Use larger or smaller sheets of paper to make larger or smaller lanterns. Vary the strip widths accordingly.
  • Cut wavy or curvy strips instead of straight ones or alternate wide and narrow strips.
  • Use markers to draw lines in contrasting colors on the lanterns.
  • Tape a slightly smaller lantern inside a larger one. Use contrasting colors of paper to make the two lanterns. Yellow or orange inside red or blue looks particularly nice!

That's it! Now hang your lanterns and go party!
Chinese paper lanterns

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

A variety of Chinese lanterns

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Tip: Make several Chinese lanterns to coordinate with your party's color scheme.

Double Chinese lantern

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Tip: Make a double Chinese lantern with two lanterns of slightly different sizes—one inside the other. Yellow inside red is quite striking!

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