How to Make Paper Lanterns

These beautiful, LED paper lanterns are super easy to make, yet look beautiful! These paper lanterns are great for weddings and parties!! So let's find out how they're made:

Materials and tools needed:
  • Free, printable template found here 
  • LED tea light
  • black card stock
  • vellum paper (or a similar translucent material)
  • rubber cement
  • white glue
  • hot glue with glue gun
  • X-Acto knife
  • ruler
  • awl (or similar tool with a rounded point)
  • small piece of corrugated cardboard
  • printer

Step 1: Print the first page of the free, printable template on black (you can use other colors, but the light from the LED will show through everything but black) card stock. Now you may be thinking that printing black ink on black paper is crazy, but any other color will NOT show up at all!! So as long as you have a lamp nearby, you'll be able to see the lines fine! :) Now, if you're using vellum for the lamp windows, go ahead and print either the second or third page on the vellum and allow the ink to dry (this may take from a few minutes to a few hours depending on the ink you use and your print settings)! If you're using something other than vellum, don't worry with the second or third pages.

Printed off paper lamp pattern on black card stock.  

Step 2: Using an X-Acto knife and a ruler (or freehand, which I prefer), cut around the outline of the lamp and the three other templates (there's a fourth in the photo, but you should only have three, so don't stress out!). After you've got the outline cut out, then, taking your time, cut out the innermost windows for the lamp. Make sure you're only cutting the innermost windows as the other lines will be needed later! If you're using vellum paper, cut out the four side windows you're going to use and one of the square tops. If you're using something other than vellum, you can use the "side window template" and "top window template" as guides for whatever you're using - just make sure you have one top and four sides. 

 Step 3: Apply rubber cement around windows in the lamp template and allow to dry. To make future steps easier, go over the corners of the windows, but not over the corners of the vellum/window guide lines, as shown in the below photo. This will make applying the vellum easier in coming steps and help make sure everything lines up well. 

Rubber cement placed on LED paper lamp pattern.

Close up view of rubber cement on LED paper lamp pattern.

Step 4:  Apply rubber cement around the edges of the printed side of the vellum (or the right/good side of whatever material you're using) and allow to dry.

Rubber cement placed on the outside edge of the LED paper lamp windows.

Step 5: Using the vellum/window guide pointed out in step 3 as a guide, apply the windows to all four sides and the top. At this time, you can rub off any excess rubber cement using the tip of your finger on both sides of the lamp template.

Windows applied to the LED paper lamp with rubber cement.

Step 6: Using a ruler and an awl score along the fold lines (these are the bolder lines along the flaps and between the windows).

Showing how to score lines in card stock.

Step 7: Fold along the fold lines. You can easily fold the flaps by laying the entire piece down and just flipping them over. The other folds are easiest to fold by picking it up and pinching the fold with your thumb and index fingers. When doing this, you want to be pretty gentle so as not to mess up the windows. 

Showing how to fold the LED paper lamp.

Step 8: Apply rubber cement to the outside of the flaps, the very top of the three sides (that aren't connected to the top), and the side of the last side (the one farthest away from the side connected to the top). Allow the rubber cement to dry. Next, lay the flap on the top of the next side as shown in the below photo. You can use your awl here to press right up to the fold, to ensure a strong bond.
Constructing the LED paper lamp.

Step 9: Apply the next flap to the top of the next side as shown. Again, use your awl to press the flap down to create a strong bond.

Constructing the LED paper lamp.

Step 10: Apply the last remaining flap to the top of the last side using your awl. The easiest way to do this is to insert your awl from the bottom of the lamp and, using your non-dominant hand, line up the top of the side with the flap fold. Do the same for the side and side flap.

Constructed LED paper lamp.

At this point, you have a completed LED tealight cover, and if you're happy with this, then you can stop here! But if you want a fully-enclosed lamp, continue on! :)

LED paper luminary.
 I replaced the yellow LED in a standard LED tea light with a much cooler, blue LED.

Step 11: Using your corrugated cardboard piece as a backing, apply rubber cement to the back (unprinted) side of the square with the circle in the center.

Applying rubber cement to the bottom template.

Step 12: Move the square template and fill in the rubber cement border left on the cardboard with rubber cement.
Applyign rubber cement to the cardboard base for the LED paper lamp.

Step 13: Apply the square template to the cardboard, rubber cemented sides together. 

Applying the template to the cardboard base with rubber cement for the LED paper lamp.

Step 14: Using your X-Acto knife, cut the cardboard around the template and through the printed circle. Make sure your LED tea light will fit in the circle! If you need to, place your tea light in the circle and trace around it with a pencil.

Cutting the base to fit the LED tea light in.

Step 15: Make sure your template will fit in your lamp! You should be able to, with a little maneuvering, be able to slide your lamp right over the cardboard. 

Ensuring the base fits properly in the LED paper lamp.

Step 16: Using your X-Acto knife score along the side of the tea light to rough it up a bit. 

Scoring the side of the LED tea light to add texture.

Step 17: Place your cardboard with the template side down (this cardboard just happened to be printed black, but the adhered paper template 'is' on the bottom). Place your tea light in the cardboard and, using your hot glue gun, liberally apply the glue all around the tea light. I also like to build the glue up and over at least two sides of the tea light to ensure it's extra secure!

Adding the LED tea light to base with hot glue.

Step 18: Apply white glue (I used Elmer's) around the edge of the cardboard. Use your finger to make sure the whole side is coated, and remember, a little bit goes a long way.

Adding glue to the edges of the LED paper lamp base.

Step 19: Push the lamp down and over the cardboard. Line up the bottom of the cardboard with the bottom of the lamp and hold the sides of the lamp to the cardboard to ensure a good, strong bond!

Adding the finished base to the LED paper lamp.

Step 20: Turn the lights off in the room, turn your amazing, new lamp on, and revel in your awesomeness! :D
Completed LED paper lamp with blue LED.

Hope your enjoyed this tutorial and can't wait to see what all y'all come up with! :) And remember, just because I post these tutorials for free doesn't mean I can live for free - donate today and help keep this website up, running, and awesome! :D



  1. This is awesome. I've been wanting to try something like this for awhile, but had not yet taken the time to design a template. You have several good ideas on how to put the lantern together and what to use for a base that I had not seen before. I can hardly wait to try it!