Culture craft with the kids: Chinese New Year lanterns with blogger La Jolla Mom

Culture craft with the kids: Chinese New Year lanterns with blogger La Jolla Mom

By on February 2nd, 2012

The Lantern Festival signifies the end of the Chinese New Year celebration and falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month. There are many theories surrounding the origin of the Lantern Festival, but it is a wide-spread custom throughout China and other parts of Asia. This day is typically spent with family enjoying food such as yuanxiao (rice dumplings), taking in lion dances and other performances, as well as amazing displays of lanterns in the streets.

Kids participate in the Lantern Festival by carrying paper lanterns of their own. Riddles are also a big part of the tradition. Lantern makers attach riddles to their creations and those who guess the answers correctly get little prizes.

Celebrating the Lantern Festival at home is easy (and fun)—plus it makes the house look pretty. This craft is ideal for kids four to 10 (my daughter is a preschooler), but really, even I enjoyed it. And you probably already have everything your kids need to make paper lanterns!

You will need:

  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Tape or a stapler
  • Decorations (stickers, crayons, glitter, paint)


  1. Measure 1 inch off the short end of the paper and cut it off. (This will serve as the lantern handle.)
  2. Fold the remaining paper in half.
  3. Measure another 1 inch line at the cut end of the paper (opposite the folded end). This line signifies where you stop cutting in step 4.
  4. Measure and draw lines approximately 1 inch apart, starting at the folded edge and ending at the “stop cutting” line. Cut the lines, ending at the “stop cutting” line.
  5. Unfold the paper and re-crease it in the opposite direction. The pencil marks will now be on the inside.
  6. Lay the unmarked side facing up and decorate as you please.
  7. Shape the lantern by securing the long ends with tape or staples.
  8. Secure the handle on top with tape or staples.
  9. Write riddles directly on the lantern or use small pieces of paper that can be secured to the lantern. (I wasn’t allowed to write on our lanterns.)

If you’re short on time, you can omit the ruler and eyeball the scissor cuts. Stiffer paper will enable the lantern to hold its shape better. You may also want to advise your little Picasso that heavy glitter paint and stickers on the top of the lantern can cause it to fall over—and of other lessons in gravity.

Hang the lanterns with string from your ceiling or tie them to the end of sticks for kids to (carefully) carry around. Enjoy all year round by decorating your next party with colorful lanterns, and keep them in mind for a fun rainy day project.

Read more about Chinese New Year on HFWT.

Read more about Four Seasons in Asia in Four Seasons Magazine.

Post Author
Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon is a freelance lifestyle and luxury travel writer who loves mother-daughter trips, Pinterest, her husband's sense of humor, a nice glass of wine and one very needy pitbull mix. Living at Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong spoiled her for life so she does her best to regularly check in to FS properties around the globe. When not on the road, Katie's family is at home in seaside La Jolla, CA. Her work can also be seen on USA TODAY Travel, Taste by Four Seasons, Four Seasons Magazine and her personal site, La Jolla Mom.

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