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Easy, Fun and Safe Children's Lanterns

For lantern processions, and all types of other occasions in Germany, it is a traditional part of the excitement for children to craft their own lanterns.

Paper Lanterns are easy to make from a decorated or "cut out" paper cylinder attached to the base of a round box: the lid of the box cut into a ring, fixed to the other end of the cylinder and a carrying fixture added. They are festive and attractive set out on a flat surface, but combined with a burning tea light, even the slightest movement means that they are not always safe to carry around.

Here are easy instructions for quickly made, safer and easy to decorate, lanterns that are popular in Germany for everything from summer BBQ's to St. Martin's Day and every type of night-time festivity.


Colored tissue paper
Felt tipped colored pens
Craft Glue or paste
Wire or string
Tea Light
Candle for candle wax or Blu-Tack

Blow up balloon and place base in bowl or box so it remains stable.

Tear up pieces of colored paper into a mixture of sizes and shapes, although not too large. Torn rather than cut paper looks better on the completed lantern.

Brush balloon with craft glue, and stick random pieces of tissue paper all over it until completely covered.

Hang up and allow to dry.

Repeat this process three or four times, the shape will then remain fixed and solid.

Burst the balloon and remove, punch two holes, one on either side, just below the edge of the papermache free area where the balloon has been supported by the bowl. Pass wire or string through holes to make a handle.

Using melted candle wax or Blu-Tack, attach a tea light securely to the base of the lantern.

If fastening to a stick make a loop in the wire to encircle it, and secure firmly before carrying.

Now you have a finished lantern that will give out a shimmering light.

It can be decorated with "arms, legs, face...or whatever", while
Balloon and Jar Lanterns made only with pieces of white paper painted with motifs, patterns or figures might be simple but are very effective.


A large (750 liter, 25 fl.oz) jar (a largish jar is fun to decorate but it must still be light enough to carry)
Craft Glue or Paste
Paint or Glue Brush

You can simply decorate it with autumn leaves that are pasted on. Either over a transparent white paper background, or directly onto the jar.

Or with various paper shapes in which case you will need:

Paper: Assorted colored or white transparent paper: Tissue, Cellophane etc.
Optional Black Craft or black non transparent paper

For both types of decoration:

Wire: Florist wire, wire coat hanger which will need pliers to secure
Wool, thin string or old gift wrapping ribbon
Blu-Tack or candle
Tea light

Roughly tear about one inch, 2 cm, 1 inch, square pieces of transparent paper, mixed or one color, until there is a stack large enough to cover the jar plus extra to allow for overlapping. It is fun to experiment with different color combinations.

Brush craft glue onto jar and start to attach and overlap the scraps of paper, brushing glue over any pieces that are not completely attached.

Apply a thin coat of glue all over the paper on the jar and allow to dry.

The lamp decoration is now finished, so time to go on to the second stage of attaching the carrying wire.

Tie wire firmly around rim; if using thin wire it should be passed around the rim several times.

Make a semi circle handle, again to make it stronger using several intertwined layers if using thin wire, attach securely to wire around the edge of the jar.

The handle is more comfortable to hold if wool, string or gift wrapping ribbon is bound around it, and this can then be continued to cover the wire around the lip of the lantern.

Press a piece of Blu-Tack to the bottom of the lantern, or an adult can melt some candle wax, to securely attach a tea light, now your beautiful, and safer, lantern is complete.

Attached firmly to a stick, or held in the hand, you and your lantern are ready to go, ENJOY

A Silhouetted, or Stained Glass Window, version of the "Jar Lantern" can be created simply by adding a cut out piece of black paper or thin card paper.

Once the decorating and handle stages are completed take a sheet of black paper large enough to go around the lantern plus a narrow overlap.

Fold lightly into a concertina and cut out shapes on the folds, or using a craft knife, under supervision if it is a child, cut out a design.

Place over the completed jar lantern to get an idea of the end effect, and make changes if necessary.

Brush glue onto the remaining solid pieces of black paper and stick. Leave a narrow glue free area top and bottom of the paper, and stick the remaining paper onto to the lantern. This makes an edge. Add glue to the pieces of overlap as well as the lantern underneath them, press firmly together and fix.

Pieces of colored transparent paper under simple cutout shapes make a lovely sight when illuminated.

Another alternative is a lamp with two or three large leaves, pressed dried flower heads, or cut out designs from black paper, pasted onto a paper covered lantern after the first coat of paper squares has dried. Cover with three or four further layers of paper and glue, and it looks amazing when illuminated.

At around seven years old children are able to make lanterns themselves, and whatever ever you choose to make, or help to make...

Have Fun and Be Safe with your Lanterns

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Content copyright © 2018 by Francine McKenna-Klein. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Francine McKenna-Klein. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Francine McKenna-Klein for details.


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