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How to Make Animal Paper Lanterns

Updated February 21, 2019

Paper lanterns are festive, creative ways to brighten a room or a party. Traditionally used for festivals and holidays such as Chinese New Year, paper lanterns can be made year-round to add a touch of flickering fun to any party. Paper lanterns can be made to follow various themes thanks to the ease of decorating their paper exteriors. Learn how to make animal paper lanterns for your next party of social event.

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  1. Cut a perfect square in a large sheet of paper. The larger the paper square, the larger your paper lantern will be. For practical purposes, bigger is better (small paper lanterns can't safely accommodate tea lights or other forms of small candles).

  2. Fold the square of paper in half, then open it. Fold it in half the opposite way, then open it. Now, the open piece of paper should have two creases that make a cross-shaped pattern in the middle.

  3. Fold the four corners of the paper square toward the middle where the two creases meet. Press down and crease well.

  4. Flip the folded square and fold the four corners in again, this time on the other side.

  5. Repeat Step 4 twice. You will now have folded the corners in five times, flipping the square before folding it each time.

  6. Slide your thumb and forefinger into the crease and push outward. Repeat on the opposite side of the paper square. You will now have a three-dimensional shape with an empty area in the middle of it.

  7. Paint or draw your chosen animal pattern or shape on the exterior of the paper. The animal design can be abstract (such as painting the entire paper lantern with tiger stripes) or straightforward (e.g. drawing an actual tiger face on the side of the paper lantern). Consider using watercolour paints so that the light from inside the paper lantern can still shine through the animal painting.

  8. Allow your animal designs to dry thoroughly. Hook a line through the top of the paper lantern and hang in a desired location. Light a small tea candle and place inside the paper lantern.

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Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Tea candle lights
  • Scissors
  • Markers, pens or watercolour paint

About the Author

Joshua Duvauchelle is a certified personal trainer and health journalist, relationships expert and gardening specialist. His articles and advice have appeared in dozens of magazines, including exercise workouts in Shape, relationship guides for Alive and lifestyle tips for Lifehacker. In his spare time, he enjoys yoga and urban patio gardening.

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