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DIY Chinese Paper Lanterns

Fun ways to celebrate the Chinese New Year

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February 3, 2011 is the first day of year 4709 on the Chinese lunar calendar and marks the beginning of the year of the Rabbit. For the Chinese, this holiday is one of the most elaborate, colorful and important holidays of the year! And more than any other Chinese holiday, the Chinese New Year stresses the importance of family ties. The new year’s eve dinner gathering is among the most important family occasions of the year.

If you’re planning to join in the celebrations with your family, you’ll want to prepare by making your own handmade decorations! This is the second of three projects we’ve created for celebrating the Chinese New Year. (See project #1 – where Lindsay shows you how to make homemade fortune cookies). This project- how to make chinese paper lanterns- is fun to make and a great rainy-day project. Living in Portland, we have many rainy days ahead of us. This tutorial is a little advanced. If you’re looking for a simplified version for kids, I suggest this one. Now on with the tutorial!

Supplies Needed:
- Red Cardstock
- Red/Gold Embroidery Floss
- Red/Gold beads (with a hole just wide enough to hold 12 strands of thread)
- MOL Hang Tags
- Downloadable Template

Tools Needed:
- Cutting Board
- Scissors
- X-acto Knife
- Ruler
- Needle Threader
- Glue Stick
- Hole Punch


Step 1: Cut your red paper into 5″ x 4.25″ rectangles. You can use plain construction paper or a decorative paper. If using a thin/handmade paper, you’ll want to glue it to another piece of paper to reinforce it, making it the same thickness as cardstock. Next, print out the template provided and cut out Figure B. Trace the shape onto the red paper and cut it out. Using the hole punch, punch a whole in the center of Figure B (see photo 1).

Step 2: Fold the 5″ x 4.25″ rectangle in half (the long ways) with the right side of the paper on the inside (see photo 2). Follow Figure A on the template provided to make measurements and cut where indicated with an x-acto knife (see photo 3). After you’ve made your cuts, fold the paper right side out (this will hide the pencil marks). Set aside.


Step 3: Next, prepare to make the tassel. First take your MOL hang tags and glue two of them together (so that the design is on both sides) (see photo 4). Using a hole punch, punch a hole at the bottom of the tag, directly across from the top hole (see photo 5).

Step 4: Cut a length of embroidery floss about 12″ long. Fold the thread in half and poke the loop-end through the bottom hole of the hang tag. Pull thread ends through loop to attach it to the tag.

Step 5: Thread one bead onto the needle threader. Take one end of the embroidery floss attached to the hang tag and feed it through the threader (see photo 6). Pull needle threader out and your bead is threaded (see photos 7-8).

Step 6: Next, take another piece of embroidery floss and wind it around your fingers 3 or 4 times (see photo 9). Cut off excess and slip the thread off your fingers. Pinch it between your thumb and index fingers, holding the top loop open (see photo 10).

Step 7: To form the top of the tassel, take the beaded thread end and feed it through the tassel loop from the back (see photo 11). Bring the thread around the back of the tassel (see photo 12) and then feed it back through the tassel loop from the front (see photo 13). Lastly, pull tight on both ends of the thread. Be sure to pull it up to the top of the tag (see photo 14).

Step 8: Next you’ll want to thread the bead through the top of the tassel. To do this, push the needle threader through the bead and thread the other end of the floss through the needle threader (see photo 15). Move bead up towards the tag. Pull thread ends tight and make a knot snugly between the bead and the tag (see photo 16). Cut off excess thread near the knot.

Step 9: Trim tassel to desired length and your tassel is complete! (See photos 17-18).

Note: This tassel-making technique was adapted from poppycreative.com. It might also be helpful to look over her tutorial if you find you’re getting stuck.

Step 10: Remember those paper pieces you cut at the beginning of this tutorial? Well it’s now time to piece everything together. First, take your tassel and loop another piece of thread through the top hole of the tag. Feed the string ends through the center hole of Shape B (see photo 19). Secure the tassel by taping the string to the other side of Figure B (see photo 20). Figure B is going to be the base of your lantern. You’ll want the tag of the tassel to hang about an inch below the base (Figure B). Once your tassel is secured to Figure B, trim off any excess string.

Step 11: Match the long edges of Figure A together and use tape to secure it together, creating your lantern. Fold the tabs of Figure B inward and tape them to the inside bottom of your lantern, creating the base. You’ll want to make sure that the tape is only on the inside of your lantern. You don’t want anything showing (see photo 21).

Step 12: Ta Da! You’ve finished your Chinese Paper Lantern! (see photo 22). Decorate your home with these lanterns to celebrate the Chinese New Year!

More Ways to Celebrate the Chinese New Year:
• The colors Red and Gold represent Happiness and Wealth. Decorate your home with these colors for good luck.
• Make your own party invitations by cutting out the shape of a Rabbit using construction paper. Write “Gung Hay Fat Choy!” (Happy New Year) and decorate it with pictures from Chinese travel brochures.
• Learn about the Chinese Zodiac.
• Serve mandarin orange slices over vanilla ice cream for dessert.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! I will post the third and final Chinese New Year theme post on Monday. Have a great weekend. ~Rachel


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Rachel (184 Posts)

Rachel Beyer is an artist, designer and creative maker based in Portland, OR. She loves crafting, party planning and illustration. Rachel is also the creator of Camp Smartypants– a line of greeting cards, art prints and handmade goodies inspired by summer camp adventures. Visit her website: Camp Smartypants


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