Paper lanterns are traditionally hung by the Chinese as part of their New Year decorations. According to folklore, lanterns were originally used as defensive tool to ward off the mythical New Year beast, Nien. Nowadays, paper lanterns are displayed to add a festive touch to homes and businesses celebrating the start of the Lunar New Year.

Even in non-Chinese households, paper lanterns are also used in decorating for parties or other holidays. Kids should have lots of fun learning to make these 3 different kinds of paper lanterns with you.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Colored paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue or Tape
  • Stapler
  • Yarn or String

Balloon Origami Lantern

This paper lantern is the easiest one to make. First, fold the paper diagonally and cut the excess paper with scissors. You can skip this step if you already have a square paper. Next, fold your paper as shown in the instructional photo below (click to enlarge):


Lastly, add a lantern tail using contrasting colored paper. You can also use a lighter type of paper such as rice paper.


Pumpkin Lantern

To make this lantern, fold a piece of paper into 3 and cut 1/3 of it off for later use. Fold the bigger portion of paper into 2 and make consecutive cuts on the folded side about ½ inch apart. Make sure the unfolded end of the paper is intact. Next, unfold the paper and open it all the way to the opposite side. Attach the ends to the portion of paper that was cut off in step 1. You can use a different colored paper as shown here (click to enlarge).


To give it its pumpkin shape, roll the uncut side of the paper and stick the ends together using tape, glue or stapler. Create a lantern tail by cutting strips on a long piece of paper. Attach it inside the lantern tube.


Good Luck Lantern

This multi-use lantern design would blend well with other Chinese decorations when made with colors such as red and gold. To do it, draw circular patterns on a paper using a cup lid as your guide. Cut out the circles using scissors. 8 paper circles is enough to complete a single lantern. Fold the paper circles into equilateral triangles and stick the inner sides together using tape or glue (click image to enlarge).


Be creative and add a long tail that matches the color of your lantern. This will give it fluidity against the wind.


Once you are finished with the lanterns, cut a strip of paper and attach it on top of the lanterns to serve as their handles. Add good luck symbols on the lanterns to make them look authentic. Don’t forget to include a rabbit – 2011 is the year of the rabbit! Finally, hang them up on doors and windows for everyone to appreciate.