What Kind of Paper Do You Use to Make a Paper Lantern?

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Paper lanterns are a Chinese tradition dating back over 2,000 years.

Paper lanterns add a sophisticated yet festive touch to your home decor. They serve this same purpose in Chinese culture as people use them as decorations during celebrations and even as a show of wealth. While Americans commonly make paper lanterns using construction paper, there are other more authentic alternatives.

Traditional Construction

As rice is a major resource in China, traditional Chinese paper lanterns are typically made using rice paper. This light-colored paper works well for lanterns since it allows light to shine through. Still, finding the paper in the U.S. for your craft projects, especially at low prices comparable to those of more common papers, is difficult.

Similar Alternatives

If you're unable to find rice paper for making paper lanterns, you can use tissue paper instead. Tissue paper is more translucent than other common types of paper and comes in a variety of colors. Even dark-colored tissue paper allows the light of your lantern to shine through. For a minimalistic look to your lantern, use brown paper bags.

Festive Additions

If design isn't your forte, use special paper to give your lantern a festive flair. The Enchanted Learning website suggests using gift wrapping paper. Choose wrapping paper with a Chinese-inspired print, and your guests may never know you made the lanterns yourself.

Construction Paper

Since construction paper is common in craft stores, tutorials for making paper lanterns list it in the needed materials. Construction paper is usable, though not nearly as translucent as a thinner paper such as tissue paper. If you use it for your construction, choose a lighter color and poke holes or make cutouts to allow more light to show through.

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Bibiana da Silva

Bibiana da Silva has been writing professionally since 2009. Her credited and ghostwritten work appears in numerous publications, including eHow Money. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from Rice University.