Festive paper lanterns convey a sense of lighthearted and carefree enjoyment to almost any special occasion. These decorative accents can be obtained inexpensively at party supply and craft stores in various designs and in a multitude of colors. Many can be illuminated with the use of small LED lights, which are safer than candles, but still produce a luminous glow during an evening of entertainment and celebration. Although paper lanterns usually have flat bases that can be arranged on tables or along walkways, they can also be suspended to great effect. Some lanterns are packaged with small hooks from which they can be hung, but it is not always clear how to attach the hooks themselves to a ceiling or above a roomful of guests. Fortunately, you can use simple and economical items to hang your paper lanterns from the ceiling in only a few minutes, allowing you plenty of time to oversee the rest of the last-minute party details before your guests arrive.
Things You'll Need
Spool of fishing line
Spool of satin ribbon (your choice of color)
Clear adhesive tape
Small paper clips (optional)
Find out how high your ceiling is in the room where your party will be held. Remember that no suspended lantern should hang lower than 1 foot above the extended arm's reach of your tallest guest. This estimated number is different for everyone. Keep in mind that female guests may be wearing high-heeled shoes. This general rule is used to keep your decorations from being in the way of your guests as they move about the room. Lanterns can always be hung higher, but they should not be much lower, unless that is the effect desired.
Use scissors to cut varying lengths of the fishing line, taking into account that the addition of the suspended lantern will extend how low the ornament will hang. For example, if you have determined that you have ceilings that are 12 feet from the floor, and your tallest guest, in shoes, is about 6-feet tall, then the bottom of your lowest lantern should not hang any lower than about 10 feet above the floor, or 2 feet from the ceiling. You can use the following formula to determine the appropriate height of the lantern: 6 feet (height of tallest guest in shoes) + 3 feet (average extended arm's length) + 1 foot (additional clearance) - the height of the ceiling. You can choose to subtract from this number the height of the lantern itself, especially if your lanterns are large. This means that if you have a dozen lanterns, you can cut four lengths of fishing line to 2 feet, four lengths to 1 1/2 feet, and four lengths to 1 foot in length. This can also be done with satin ribbons. Fishing line will be virtually invisible in low light, giving the appearance of the lanterns floating in mid-air, and satin ribbons will gently reflect any ambient light.
Attach the hooks, if included, to the lanterns. If none have been included in the packaging, place a piece of clear tape at the top of the lantern, and use a hole puncher to pierce a hole through the center of the tape. Repeat this directly across from the first taped hole. The tape reinforces the thin paper of the lantern and prevents tearing. Slide a small paper clip through each of the holes to create "hooks."
Take the individual lengths of fishing line or ribbon and tie them to the hooks by making a simple knot or two. From this point, you have at least two choices. You can use tape to attach the free ends of the ribbons or fishing line strings to the ceiling so that you create a grouping of lanterns that suspend directly from it. A second option would be to use a tape measure to determine the span of the room. Cut a long length of fishing line to this room's size, plus 2 inches. Secure the fishing line on each side with tape, tightly and horizontally against the ceiling at either end of the room, or an inch or two below it. Hang the lantern hooks on this string at even intervals, allowing the lanterns to hang freely at the end of their vertical ribbons or fishing line strings. If you are using paper clips instead of prefabricated hooks, you might want to thread the extra-long fishing line string through the clips before securing the line across the length of the room. After the line has been secured, you can evenly space your paper lanterns to hang them beneath the ceiling.