How to Make a Lantern at Home!
“Why,” I’ve been wondering since returning to Boston after traveling around the world, “do gorgeous public light displays like that not exist back home?” This month I finally figured out the answer: The pretty lights are here, but I’ve been too lazy to find them!
The Boston Lantern Parade and Festival
I learned this lesson just a few weeks ago, one cold night in Boston. My baby was playing with a hair clip (an educational toy, right?), and I was curled like a hedgehog the couch. Suddenly, my phone started vibrating repeatedly.
“Are you coming to the Lantern Festival in Jamaica Plain?” friends were texting.
“Argh.” I responded. “It’s too cold outside, and I’m lazy and cozy! (Colazy?)”
Homemade Lanterns Around Jamaica Pond
As the festival drew to a close, my friends’ texts grew more urgent. “The Lantern Festival almost over!” they text-screamed. “You need to see it!” At last I grumbled, threw on a hat, and strapped the baby to my chest to brave the New England chill. I arrived at Jamaica Pond with half an hour to spare.
Colorful Lanterns Displayed Outside
As you can see from these photos, it was worth it to get off my couch. Though the wind and elapsed hours had extinguished some of the candles, dozens of colorful hand-made lanterns still winked from their strings.
I admit to knowing nothing about the festival before I trotted over, so it was with curiosity that I peered closer — creative and frugal teacher that I am — trying to figure out how the colorful lights were made.
How to Make a Lantern Festival in YOUR Town
It turns out that this beautiful lantern festival would be easy to re-create in your town with some simple crafting. The only materials needed to make the lanterns are: large plastic soda bottles cut in half, tissue paper, glue, and candles!
The Jamaica Plain Lantern Festival also features live music, dancing, and hot apple cider, but if you start your own light festival in your town, methinks you could just put up the lanterns, play some recorded music, and people would still feel the joy. Does this seem like something you’d enjoy creating?
What Art Projects Can YOU Create at Home?
Walking home after the festival with my baby snoring softly on my chest, I chuckled at how I’d almost missed a great thing. We sally forth to all corners of the globe to see foreign festivals, but sometimes forget the ones we have right at home, or the art prompts we can rally our community to create, ourselves!
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How to Make a Lantern
Lantern Crafting Materials:
- Colorful tissue paper! Click to check deals on Amazon
- Inexpensive white candles or these great electric candles
- Simple craft glue and a paintbrush to apply it
- Sturdy scissors to cut the top off the bottles
- Craft wire and a hole puncher to make holes in the bottle for the wire handle
- 2 liter bottles: Click for Amazon Pantry delivery deals
Instructions to Create the Lanterns:
1. Wash the 2 liter bottles and cut off the tapered tops.
2. Cut the tissue paper into desired shapes and apply it to the dry bottles using glue on a paintbrush.
3. Optional: Decorate on top of the tissue paper using paint and/or permanent markers.
4. Glue the wax or plastic candle to the bottom of the bottle and let dry.
5. Punch holes into the upper lip of the cut bottles and string the wire through the holes.
6. Light (or turn on) the candle, hang or hold the lantern, and enjoy its beauty!
So there you have it. If you try making these lanterns, do leave your advice in the comments section for how to make them maximally fabulous!
See 40 more art prompts here!
Enjoy quirky local festivals? Check out this hilarious dogs-in-costumes fashion competition.
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!