diy wednesdays: table lanterns

with the crazy heat wave we’re having in san francisco this week, all we can think about is spending as much time as possible outside. and since balmy evenings especially are a rarity in sf, we plan to take advantage of the warm weather and prepare a few dinners to eat up on the roof in the upcoming days. these paper lanterns are a snap to make, and will add a nice festive glow to our outdoor picnic table. click here for the full project or just click “read more” below.

have fun!
derek & lauren

here’s what you’ll need:
-cylindrical glasses or vases
-colored cardstock
-colored tissue paper
-double-sided tape
-tea light or votive candle


1. measure the height and circumference of your glass and cut a piece of tissue paper that is the same height and 1/4″ wider than your measurement.
2. put a strip of double-sided tape down the length of your glass and wrap the tissue paper around, securing both ends onto the tape.


3. measure and cut a piece of colored card stock that is 1″ taller and 1/2″ wider than your glass measurement.
4. fold the cardstock in half lengthwise and starting at the fold line, make a series of cuts that are approximately 1/2″ to 1″ apart, making sure to stop about 1″ from the edge.


5. unfold the cardstock and stick pieces of double sided tape along the top and bottom, and all along one of the short edges.
6. wrap around your glass, lining up the top and bottom of the glass with the top and bottom of the cardstock.
7. light a candle and carefully insert it into the glass.


  1. Catherine says:

    I’ve been on a lantern kick helping a friend with her wedding decor. Love this idea! Could be a nice alternative for lining walkways.

  2. Maria says:

    this is lovely!

  3. wayne pate says:

    Flash back to the 70’s as a kid. These would look great made out of some
    old scrap pieces of wall paper.

  4. Lisa says:

    Thanks for this tutorial! I’m going to try to make some hanging from wire for my market booth.

  5. Lauren Z says:

    I Love it! Super Cute!

  6. carrie says:

    simple, but really cool! i love it and i’m not even very “crafty.”

  7. designGirl says:

    Love these! I’m going to do 3 sizes and 3 shades per table for my patio!

  8. kck noir says:

    I made these once for an Asian-themed birthday party for my daughter and hung them from our trees. They were beautiful! I’ll have to try them out again!

  9. Kristan says:

    LOVE IT! I would totally do this. And will? Maybe like a weekend fun project.

  10. lana330 says:

    thanks for the flashback, when i was a kid making tree ornaments that looked very much like these was my favorite project at christmas time

  11. Just found your blog and I absolutely love it!

  12. laura says:

    cool! i think i’ll try making some of these out of thin sheets of metal!

  13. James says:

    My kids and I made about 30 of these lanterns in February for a Chinese New Year themed Cub Scout banquet. They made nice inexpensive centerpieces and the kids seemed to love them.

  14. These are perfect for our backyard BBQ coming up. Lovely timing and price. Especially since I have some candles in holders that I’ve received as gifts that I wouldn’t mind covering up. Thanks!

  15. maritessb says:

    bringing it back old skool. great idea!

  16. I bet those will look great…nice idea!

  17. Amanda says:

    sweet! i just got some great cintronella votives from World Market and I’m going to make some mini ones for my birthday soiree this weekend! egg toss, check. cake walk, check. old school lanterns, check.

  18. Laurie says:

    Found this site a day ago. I’m obsessed. Beautiful taste, great projects. I’m telling everyone I know! Sure these lanterns are simple, but there is serious taste and talent at design sponge. Love it!

  19. Dylan says:

    I LOVE this idea! They look fabulous, so simple but the colors are gorgeous in the candlelight. I look forward to using this idea in my dusk picnic birthday party in August!

  20. Yuko says:

    I remeber it when i was little! Making it as a decoration for the school party. it is great idea to transform it to lantern.
    Love it!

  21. Stratos says:

    Wow! That brings back childhood memories!

  22. Hanna says:

    Those are soo fun! I love the simplicity

  23. Kara says:

    Child craft projects are great inspiration. This is a long forgotten favourite – and the perfect addition to my roof deck party. I’m using recycled house plans as paper.

  24. Bethany says:

    Craziness! I remember making those in second grade!

  25. Cherie says:

    So simple but gorgeous!! (:

  26. Lauren says:

    Excellent! Reminds me of these paper shelves I have lying all around the walls in my house.

    You can make some for yourself…

  27. This great idea has been featured at At Home Redesign’s “I Love These Ideas!” Sunday column (a day early…)

    Hop over and grab a badge if you’d like:

  28. suec says:

    I am excited to find an alternative to the big paper stars that i was going to buy for a party. thanks so much!

  29. Lorie says:

    Yeah, I remember this from my Make and Do book! My absolute favorite from the Childcraft series. This is one of the projects using Arnold from Different Strokes for the photo. I still make the kitchen clay and paper hula skirts with my niece. Darn fine book. :o)

  30. Zhoie says:

    I Love them they will look great at my 21st

  31. Absolutely lovely and not as much of a fire hazard as they look at first glance. Looks to put off a delightful orange glow that would be great for mood lighting.

  32. Nini says:

    Love these so much I want to make them NOW!!! I have a small question though… won’t the heat from the candle break the glass, if I used the same glass that you have in the picture?

  33. kourtney says:

    Lorie, I had the same make and do book, and man did i ever turn out crafty! coincidence we are both looking at this site, i think not.

  34. Cindy says:

    You can vary the look infintely by changing the width of the strips, by making the cuts wavy, or by cutting out small shapes (maybe with a hole punch).

  35. Marian says:

    ooooh, wavy cuts…I like it!

  36. lenny says:

    the color combos are truly endless. as a green event planner, i love the idea of being able to reuse glass cylinders over & over & over again, simply by changing out the paper.



  37. Ellen cristina says:

    amei…vou fazer prá colocar na mesa de comida da minha festa…depois eu mando as fotos….mt obrigada pela ideia no site….

  38. Michelle says:

    I made a ton of these of all different sizes for an evening outdoor engagement party. They looked so beautiful and people couldn’t stop talking about them! Thank you for the idea!

  39. edmar pita says:

    muito bom!
    Vou fazer uma dessa pra mim.

  40. Peter says:

    Such a nice idea! My wife has tried to build her own centrepiece and It was a great fun for both of us.. We have also seen many exciting centrepieces in an online shop

  41. dee dee says:

    supper! great idea , i was actually lookn for light as a table decor n this is perfect n simple ! loooove it .

  42. Idil says:

    Dear Derek &Lauren, I ran out to the stationery shop and bought the coloured paper and the paper tissues instinctively, the rest I already had.
    The result look-out come- was fabulous for about an hour but, after that all the tapes began to come out and the cutted lines of the coloured paper began distorting.
    If you didn’t have the same problem I guess the success of this idea depends on which material has been used.

    I’d like my lovely product to be a pemanent one (at least for more than an hour:)), I see here that you used “scotch 3M double sided” (mine is an anonymous one, so maybe it’s not that resistant to heat) would you mind also writing down which brand you preferred for the coloured paper and the paper tissues.
    As you can see that I’m so inspired by your design.

  43. Idil says:

    By the way you can check the one I made in the ILLUMINATIONS part.

  44. Adorei……Obrigada Pela dica vou tentar fazer!!

  45. Sanjay Wankhade says:

    Great idea , i was actually lookn for light as a table decor n this is perfect n simple !
    Being a commercial artiste I simply love it.

  46. Pooja says:

    Awesome…Just love it..:)


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