Christmas Paper Lantern Tutorial

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A Christmas paper lantern is the perfect DIY holiday project for anyone old enough to use scissors. Plus, they can be tailored to suit your holiday decor style. Whether your lanterns are meant to be hanging decorations or luminaries, this paper craft tutorial works best with something at least as thick as construction paper and in any Christmas color you'd like. If you'd rather not create the actual lantern part, embellish one with holiday decorations instead.

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Things You'll Need

  • Paper or cardstock in desired colors

  • Ruler

  • Pencil

  • Scissors

  • Paper punches in holiday shapes (optional)

  • Glue, stapler or tape

A simple Christmas paper lantern

The easiest holiday paper lanterns are simple enough for school children to create, yet the designs may be embellished to make them look like more elaborate holiday home decor.

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1. Choose construction paper colors

Select construction paper in a color to match the vibe you wish to create—for instance, white paper for a snowman, green for a Christmas tree or red for Santa. One standard piece of construction paper makes one lantern.

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2. Trim off an inch

Set the paper in landscape mode in front of you so it's wider than it is tall. Trim off a strip that's 1 inch wide from the right or left side using a ruler and pencil to mark where to cut.

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3. Fold the paper

Fold the bottom half of the paper up to meet the top half. Crease the bottom edge.

4. Make a stop line

Draw a stopping point line 1 inch from the top, all the way across the paper. This mark simply shows where to stop cutting the paper.

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5. Measure and make slices

Make a small line every inch across the bottom edge if you'd like a guideline for where to cut. This helps ensure the cuts in the Christmas holiday lantern come out even.

6. Make slices

Slice straight up from the bottom folded edge to the stop line along each mark made in the previous step. The lines should be straight and parallel with one another.

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7. Unfold the paper lantern

Unfold the paper so the creased area points up.

8. Decorate the paper

Decorate the top and bottom inch of the paper lantern as desired and as suited to the Christmas party decor. For instance, a strip of white paper or cotton balls across the top and bottom resemble part of Santa's outfit on a red lantern, while a snowman lantern looks nice with a cut-out orange piece of paper for a carrot nose plus some eyes and a mouth.

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Tip

For festive and less childlike lantern ideas, use shaped paper punches featuring stars, Christmas trees, or snowmen to punch shapes along the top or bottom edge and also in random locations along the paper strips. This gives the lantern a bit of a luminary effect.

9. Glue it together

Hold the cut-out paper straight up while still in landscape mode. Make a loop so the right and left sides meet and then glue, tape or staple it at the top and bottom edges and anywhere else there's a gap. Take the strip you previously cut from the paper and tape its long ends just inside the top edge from one side to the next to make a handle.

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10. Display the lantern

Place an LED light or battery-powered tea light candle inside the lantern if using the lantern as a centerpiece on a table. These lanterns may be used over any existing battery-powered or plug-in candles you have.

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Tip

Printable lantern templates are another option for teens or adults. This type of lantern requires either a Cricut or similar cutting machine or a steady hand and a craft knife to cut out silhouette forms of Santa, Christmas trees, or even the Wise Men. Glue colorful tissue paper inside the finished lantern and use electric illumination inside for a beautiful effect.

Decorating an existing lantern

The ball-shaped lanterns sometimes called Chinese lanterns are also easy to turn into holiday decorations. Simply use sprigs of holly, branches with berries, or even a faux cardinal and hot glue them onto the lantern with care. Miniature Christmas garland may also look nice when banded around the lantern.

Whichever way you create your Christmas paper lantern, have fun during the process. The creation is just as much fun as enjoying the final product on display. Merry Christmas!

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