How to Make a Paper Lantern Glow

Written by adam johnson
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How to Make a Paper Lantern Glow
The glow of a paper lantern can be achieved through a direct light source and different paper modifications. (lanterns image by YOKE LIANG TAN from

Paper lanterns provide a soft, warm light which can be an alternative to standard lighting, especially outdoors. Traditionally used by the Chinese during festivals, paper lanterns are also a way to spruce up parties, living and dining rooms, gardens, and breakfast nooks. While paper lanterns can come in all shapes and sizes, they all share one common characteristic -- the glow that emanates through the paper, illuminating the images on the lantern and adding ambience to the surrounding area.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Paper lantern
  • Light bulb (or, alternatively, a candle or glow stick)
  • Batteries (or extension cord if using a plug-in light)
  • Coloured tissue paper
  • Coloured cellophane paper

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  1. 1

    Purchase a paper lantern from a party or Asian-themed store. Make sure it has colours and designs that you want to see illuminated.

  2. 2

    Cover the inside of the paper lantern with different colour tissue paper to enhance the glow and create a deeper, warmer colour.

  3. 3

    Cut and fold a piece of cellophane into a cylindrical shape, a bit smaller than the size of your paper lantern, and insert into the paper lantern. This will create a more complex and shadowy glow.

  4. 4

    Insert a battery-powered light bulb into the paper lantern and place on the attached light platform. If your light bulb has a socket instead, attach an extension cord into the socket. You can also use a glow stick, or a candle, to illuminate the paper lantern. However, if you use a candle, be sure it is secured tightly to avoid fire. Turn on the bulb (or light the candle), and your paper lantern will emit a magical glow that will add light-filled character to your room or outdoor area.

Tips and warnings

  • Be sure to always keep an eye on the lanterns when they are illuminated, whether you use a light bulb or a candle, to avoid a disastrous fire.

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