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How to Make a Paper Bag Chinese Candle Lanterns

Updated March 23, 2017

Chinese craftsmen began making lanterns centuries ago using bamboo and paper or silk. Originally created as a source of light, Chinese lanterns ultimately became integrated into Chinese culture. Chinese lanterns are now used in celebrations and festivals. From the most intricate designs with elaborate embellishments to the use of small paper bags, Chinese lanterns come in a variety of shapes, sizes and colours. Making paper bag Chinese lanterns provides an opportunity to create handmade home decor and party supplies as well as a culturally inspired craft project for your child.

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  1. Lay your paper bag flat on a hard surface. Draw or trace a design such as a crescent moon and stars or Chinese characters.

  2. Open the paper bag and cut the design out of the paper bag. Since you do not want to start cutting from the bag's edge, pinch a small section of the bag inside the design and make a cut. This will be your starting point to cut out your design.

  3. Cut a sheet of tissue paper large enough to cover your design but small enough to fit inside the paper bag. Gently place glue around the edges of the tissue paper. Glue the tissue paper to the inside of the paper bag, covering your design on the inside of the bag.

  4. Pour sand into the paper bag until there is 1-inch layer of sand. The sand serves as a weight to prevent your paper bag Chinese lantern from blowing over.

  5. Turn on and place two battery-operated tea light candles inside the bag. Traditionally, fire-burning candles would be used to illuminate a Chinese lantern. However, with the invention of battery-operated candles, you no longer need to worry about your paper bag Chinese lantern catching fire due to an open flame.

  6. Fold down the top inch of the bag. Toward the centre of the fold, punch two holes 1 inch apart. Pull your ribbon through the holes and tie a bow. Depending on your preference, the bow can either adorn the side with the design or the backside. Enjoy your paper bag Chinese lantern!

  7. Tip

    Paper bags, tissue paper and ribbons come in a variety of colours. Be creative with your colours. You can also adorn you paper bag Chinese lantern with glitter, beads, buttons, ribbons and tassels. Leave out the sand, and you can hang your paper bag Chinese lantern.


    Never leave a paper bag Chinese lantern with a lit tea light unattended--even if it is a battery-operated tea light.

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Things You'll Need

  • Lunch-size paper bag
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Colour tissue paper
  • Glue stick
  • Sand
  • Battery-operated tea light candles
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbon

About the Author

Ashlyn Etree was all business as a PR professional for 10 years, but she loves rolling up her sleeves volunteering at animal rescues. She writes for various publications, specializing in business, career and pet-related content. Etree earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Central Florida.

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