This is a tutorial for a basic paper lantern along with some additional lantern making ideas to customize your project.
While I made these paper lanterns with kids as an arts and crafts project, they can easily be customized for more serious affairs like weddings or parties or even just as an accessory for around the house depending on what materials you use.
The base of the lanterns are super simple and can be made with just a letter sized sheet of paper, construction paper or heavier weight cardstock.
I opted for a metallic cardstock in the photos shown which I thought added a more sophisticated flair. I then added some butterfly and floral cutouts to customize the piece.
Depending on where you want to use your paper lantern, you may or may not want to put a handle on it. Since mine were just sitting on a side table, I didn’t feel the need to put a handle on it.
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Materials for an easy paper lantern design
Cardstock – I highly recommend using at least medium weight cardstock with colored cores. The while core paper frays easily with intricate cuts and doesn’t hold up as well. Here are some of my favorite brands:
- Assorted Starter Pack – Basic assorted colors, great starter pack, perfect weight for most papercraft projects
- Cricut Joy Insert Card Packs – You don’t have to use these with the Cricut Joy, they are nice material kids for cardmaking.
- Cardstock Warehouse Brand on Amazon – I love the quality of all the matte-colored cardstock with Cardstock Warehouse. It is my go-to brand for individual matte colors that I might need
- Poptone Assorted Variety Pack – This is the perfect peppy assortment of colors of heavy cardstock. It’s a heavy cardstock assortment with colors I actually use frequently for cardmaking.
- Seasonal Assorted Variety Pack – This is a slight variation on the Poptone assortment and has a quite few neutrals that complement almost any accent color.
- Stardream Metallics Line – For paper crafts, the Stardream line is the go-to for a metallic shimmer finish. It is the perfect sheen to make any project pop. The core is also colored is which hard to find for metallic paper.
Glue – Any type of glue works here. Here are a couple of my favorites:
- Art Glitter Glue – All-purpose non-toxic polymer glue with a fine tip, dries fast with minimal paper warping.
- Hot Glue Gun – My favorite cordless hot glue gun, an essential for fast petal to petal gluing
Templates – the base design for these paper lanterns and the butterfly and floral accessories are available for free in my resource library in both SVG and printable PDF formats.
How to make a paper lantern
First, cut out the base pieces of the lantern. I used my Cricut cutting machine which made it super easy. You will have to use a knife or scissors to cutting if you don’t have a cutting machine.
For the basic rectangular design, you want to fold it in half perpendicular to the the slits.
Then, just align the edges in a loop and glue in place. I like to overlap the edge most slits and glue those together as well.
For the parallelogram shaped base, no folding is necessary. You just align the edge most slits and glue in place.
Add the accessory cutouts as you see fit.
Additional lantern making ideas
There many other types of lanterns with simple things around the home.
I love LED tealights and made this tealight holder with some metallic cardstock. The free templates and tutorial for this tealight holder are available here.
Paper luminaries are also super easy to make with a cutting machine. Here are some of my paper luminary project which also include templates.
If you are willing explore beyond paper, use some recycled jars to make these fairy jar luminaries that can be used both indoors and out.