How to Make Paper Lanterns

three paper lanterns

@nadydelarosaphotography / Instagram

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 30 mins
  • Yield: 2 lanterns
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

Paper lanterns are incredibly quick and easy to make, and they're extremely versatile to use as decorations. You can make them with craft paper in the colors and patterns of your choosing to fit any design preference or theme. They look great sitting on tables as centerpieces, strung up as hanging decor, and more. You can even hang them on string lights for a whimsical look. This tutorial explains how to make a basic paper lantern. If you want to jazz it up, you can trim the lantern with ribbon, add glitter, draw on the paper, or otherwise get creative.

paper lantern supplies

@nadydelarosaphotography / Instagram

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Scissors
  • Stapler


  • 2 toilet paper rolls
  • 2 sheets 12 inch-by-12 inch craft paper in contrasting colors
  • Glue dots
  • Ribbon


  1. Cut 1 Sheet of Paper in Half

    First, select which color or pattern of your craft paper you want to be on the inside of the lanterns and which you want to be on the outside. Cut both sheets of paper to 12 inches by 12 inches if they aren't that size already.

    Next, fold your sheet of paper for the inside of the lanterns in half, unfold it, and cut it along the crease you made. Each toilet paper roll will only require one of these halves you just cut.

    cutting base paper
  2. Size the Paper to Fit the Rolls

    Wrap each craft paper rectangle you just cut around a toilet paper roll. Cut off any excess, so the paper just covers the roll.

    fitting the roll
  3. Glue the Paper to the Rolls

    Use glue dots to secure the sized craft paper to each toilet paper roll. You should need about six glue dots per roll.

    wrapping the roll
  4. Measure and Cut the Outer Paper

    Now, lay one of the toilet paper rolls on top of the craft paper you're using for the outside of the lanterns. Wrap the paper around the roll, and cut just enough to fit around the roll once. Then, cut another piece of paper in that same size for the second roll.

    cutting outer paper
  5. Make Slits in the Outer Paper

    Fold one outer paper piece in half lengthwise. Then, cut slits into the folded side, stopping about an inch from the other edge. The more slits you make, the more of the inner paper you will see on the lantern. Unfold the paper. Repeat this process for the other outer paper piece.

    cutting outer paper
  6. Attach the Outer Paper to the Rolls

    Wrap each outer paper piece around each toilet paper roll, and staple the paper to the rolls around the top and bottom. Pinch the slits in their centers, so they pop out.

    wrapping the roll
  7. Attach the Ribbon Handle

    To make a handle for your paper lantern, cut a piece of ribbon in any length you wish. Use glue dots to attach the ribbon to each side at one end of the lantern. Repeat for the other lantern.

    attaching the handle to a paper lantern