Chinese New Year Lanterns DIY

Friday, February 22, 2013

I'm quite a superstitious person. I refuse to walk under ladders. I would wear the same pair of socks for each sporting match I played in high school (freshly washed, of course). And black cats creep me right out. So towards the end of last year when I felt a sense of foreboding anxiety starting to grow within me, I knew I could only attribute it to one thing - 2013 was almost upon us. I was dreading this year terribly. I wanted to spend all 365 days under the doona and not come out. But then I thought that Mr M might get a bit cranky at that and my mum might try ship me home, so I started to think of how I was going to cope with the number thirteen in the date, every day.

I turned to the Chinese. From what I can gather Chinese numerology dictates that the way a number sounds when it is spoken indicates its power of luckiness, or unluckiness, depending on what other words it sounds like. For example, 8 is the most lucky because when spoken in Mandarin sounds like the word for 'wealth' or 'fortune'. 4 on the other hand sounds like 'death' and is avoided at all costs. 1 and 3, when said together to make thirteen, sound like 'certain growth' or 'assured life'. Mr M's father actually lives in Singapore and I know shortly I'm going to receive a rather long email outlining how this works with the Chinese population that live there.
However, it is enough to go off to make me want to flip my negative, Western thoughts on the number 13 on its head and decide that this year was will be the year for growth, vibrancy and life.

This Sunday is the Chinese Lantern (Shangyuan) Festival which marks the official end of the Chinese New Year celebrations that sweep across the world every year. Letting go of a lit lantern on the 15th day of the new year is meant to symbolise letting go of one's past to make way for a fresh start. I, however, made some lanterns to keep as a reminder of the good fortune I'm hoping 2013 will bring.

Chinese New Year Lanterns

You'll need

+ 2013 template, downloadable here, printed on card stock (I used 190 gsm white mat cardstock)
+ 4 x A4 pieces of red card (I bought an A2 sized sheet at 160 gsm and cut it into four)
+ Hole punch
+ 8 x Split pins/ paper fasteners
+ Fishing line/ nylon cord
+ Gold foil/ tissue paper
+ 4 x Freezer bag twist ties
+ Paper knife
+ Cutting mat
+ Ruler (and a Fringing guide if you have one)
+ Scissors
+ Craft glue that dries clear
+ Gold glitter (the craft glue and gold glitter can be substituted for gold spray paint or acrylic paint)
+ 1 Tea light candle and the metal cases of 3 others (I used previously melted down ones and popped the wick base out)
+ 4 x Bamboo skewers
+ 1 Polystyrene dome (or any other item that will support the bamboo skewers)
+ Paint brush
+ Washi tape (not pictured)

Prepare the tea light candle bases (the tops of the lanterns).
1. Take the unmelted candle out of its case and remove the wick's metal support. Put the candle back in the case and using the sharp point of one bamboo skewer pierce a small hole in the middle of the metal case. Then remove from the candle and pierce all the way through. Push the skewer holding the metal case into an area of the polystyrene dome and repeat with the other three cases.
2. Pour a small amount of craft glue onto a smooth, non porous surface (I like to use a folded up piece of cling film) and tap a little glitter on top. Mix into a paste. One by one paint the glue mix onto each case, letting it dry a little before putting more on to coat properly. Leave to dry.

Prepare the gold tassels
3. Cut two 10cm strips from the roll and then fold lengthwise and cut in half again. Prepare the tassels as per the tutorial I've previously posted here (note, these gold tassels will turn out smaller). Leave aside to use later.

Prepare the letters
4. Cut the letters out, in circles, squares, outlined, as you wish. I traced around a yoghurt pot to get circles and then left them plain but they can be cut out and decorated as you like.
5. Using small strips of washi tape secure the numbers to the gold tassels as per the pic.

Prepare the red lanterns*
6. Cut 20 one and a half centimetre wide strips of card from along the width of one sheet - they should be approximately 22 centimetres long. Make a small hole at the end of each strip using the hole punch. Take the fishing line and cut two 20 cm lengths. Thread one piece of the fishing line just a little way through through the prongs of the split pin, under the head, and then push the pin through the holes at one end of the paper strips to connect together. This will be the top. Do the same to the other side, but make sure the fishing line is thread halfway through - this will be the bottom. The two split pins must be going in the same direction.
7. Very carefully start separating each strip, twisting at both top and bottom, until they spread out to form a ball. Repeat with the remaining three sheets of paper and split pins to make four balls.

Assemble the lanterns
8. Measure out and secure a length of fishing line between two points where you want the lanterns to hang.
9. Tie the fishing line at the 'bottom end' of one red ball to a tassel, making sure the number is displayed flat when hanging. Take the longer end and thread a glittered metal case on upside down.

Tie securely to the supporting fishing line. Repeat with each until all four are hanging to spell out '2013'.

Wishing you all good fortune and prosperous growth for 2013.


(*This paper strip ball DIY was adapted from good ol' Martha's.)


  1. OMG !! That's so cute!! i would certainly have tried this out if it wasn't too late, but naturally (it's not funny otherwise) i discover your blog a bit late !

    Hugs from Belgium xxx

    1. Hello Miss Lolie! Thank you! You can try this at any time of year! Change the red to different colours; pink, green, yello, blue, and you have some festive lanterns for summer. Or change the '2013' to 'Happy Birthday' (there's a template here: you can download) and it's a nice birthday message for a friend?
      Thank you for coming by and leaving your nice message!
      Bisous de Paris xx