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Chinese Lanterns, Tin Can Lanterns, Paper Lanterns And More!

Lighting is one of the most important aspects of any home, garden, or patio. The right type of lighting can add ambiance, romance, and flair to even the dullest of settings. One of the most popular choices for both indoor and outdoor lighting is decorative lanterns. Decorative lanterns come in a variety of styles and can really brighten up a space: they look perfect in bedrooms and living rooms, and take pride of place on patios and decks. Plus, they don’t have to break your budget either, especially when you decide to do it yourself! Here are some great tips on how to make your own creative lanterns.

About Lanterns
Lanterns have been in use for thousands of years, both to light up dark spaces and to provide wonderful atmospheres to different rooms and spaces. Lanterns also have a spiritual meaning for many cultures. Both the Japanese and Chinese use lanterns in order to remember lost loved ones and to guide spirits through earthly realms. A number of other cultures use lanterns to help celebrate important traditions and special occasions that occur throughout the year.


Making Your Own Lanterns

There are a variety of lanterns that you can make at home, using simple and inexpensive materials. Here are a few different types of lanterns that can add a sense of magic and celebration to any room! When you hang your lanterns though, be sure not to leave them unattended. Heat from candles and light bulbs can start a fire.


Chinese Paper Lanterns
Chinese paper lanterns are easy to make and can add lots of color to your deck or patio. They also work well as party decorations.

What You will Need:
To make your own Chinese paper lanterns, gather up the following materials:


  • assorted colors of 8 ½" x 11" craft paper (one sheet for every lantern)
  • assorted markers
  • scissors
  • tape
  • string of colored or white lights


How to Make It:


    1. First, draw a decoration or image on one side of each piece of paper. The lantern will hang vertically, so keep this in mind when decorating.
    2. Fold the paper in half, lengthwise. Make ½" cuts along the folded side, at ½" intervals.
    3. Unfold the paper and roll into a tube. Tape the top and bottom ends of the tube.
    4. Cut strips of paper that are 6" long and 2" inches wide. Tape these strips to the top of the lantern to form a handle.
    5. Hang the lanterns over each bulb on your string of lights.


Tin Can Lantern
Tin can lanterns that use candles are great for outdoor celebrations and barbecues, and they make use of all those spare tins!

What You Will Need:
To make your tin can lanterns, be sure to have on hand:


  • assorted tin cans that have been washed and have their labels removed
  • a black marker
  • a towel
  • safety goggles
  • a hammer and a large, sharp nail


How to Make It:


    1. Fill your tin cans with water and place them in the freezer until the water has frozen.
    2. Draw designs on your tin cans using your black marker. Simple designs are the easiest to punch out.
    3. Roll out a large towel. Place your can in the middle of the towel, and roll either side of the towel towards the can. This will form a protective barrier, which will prevent the tin from moving around too much.
    4. Put on your safety goggles and begin to punch out your design, using the hammer and nail. Punch out the designs on each of your tin cans.
    5. Thaw the tin cans in the sink.
    6. When thawed, dry the tin cans and place 1" to 2" of sand in the bottom.
    7. Anchor a votive candle in the sand. Light it using a long match.


Papier Maché String Lanterns
These easy-to-make papier maché string lanterns add a hint of class to any room.

What You Will Need:
For papier maché lanterns, you will need:


  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • water
  • a large bowl
  • scissors and tweezers
  • a roll of white string
  • a package of small balloons (one balloon for every second bulb on the string of lights)
  • a string of white or colored lights


How To Make It:


    1. Bring two cups of water to a boil.
    2. In a bowl, mix your flour with two more cups of water. Add this mixture to the boiling water.
    3. Bring the mixture to a boil and then allow to cool.
    4. Blow up your balloons to about 3 ½" in diameter. You will need one balloon for every second light on the string. Tie the balloons off in a knot.
    5. When your papier maché mixture is cool, cut several long pieces of string. Dip each piece into the mixture. Using your fingers, strip off any excess mixture.
    6. Carefully wind the string around the balloon. Continue adding more string until the balloon is covered.
    7 When your balloon is covered, tie a dry piece of string to the knot on the balloon. Hang to dry. The balloons will drip, so be sure to cover your floor with newspaper.
    8. Repeat the process with each balloon. Let the balloons dry for 12 to 48 hours.
    9. Once dry, pop the balloons and remove them using your tweezers.
    10. Attach each string ball to a bulb on your string of lights.