diy project: piñata-inspired party lanterns

We love having outdoor parties in the summer. During long summer days, it is great to have friends over to enjoy the warm evenings. One of my favorite party motifs is a fiesta. With plenty of make-your-own tacos and endless margaritas, guests can help themselves, creating a low-maintenance but very festive get-together.  To add some colorful decor to the fiesta idea, I took inspiration from traditional Mexican celebratory piñatas, held the candy filling and layered on the tissue fringe, creating piñata-style lights that are perfect for your next outdoor fiesta. Make sure to hide all of the broomsticks. Salud! — Brenna

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  • paper lanterns (IKEA carries paper lanterns in interesting shapes and also carries cord and light socket sets that are made for lighting these particular lanterns. Just add a light bulb, plug in and you are ready to go!)
  • tissue paper
  • scissors
  • glue
  • string


1. Assemble the paper lantern. Use the string to hang the lantern so that it is at shoulder level. You can tie knots in the string so that you can move the lantern up and down as needed to make it easier to work on.

2. Take the tissue out of the package and unfold so it is full length. Cut a length from the tissue along one of the long folds. Fold this in half.

3. Keeping the tissue folded — it should look like a really long book with a “spine” on one long edge and loose pages on the opposite long edge — cut across the short width, along the “spine” or folded edge about every quarter of an inch leaving about a quarter of an inch before the edge of the “pages.”

4. Unfold the tissue to reveal a stack of looped fringe. If you would like single fringe instead of looped, cut along the fold with your scissors to cut the fringe in half along the length.

5. Start at the bottom of the lantern and work your way up. Apply a small zigzag of glue to the paper lantern in a horizontal line all the way around the lantern. The zigzag allows the looped fringe to adhere better by providing space for both the back layer and the front layer to come in contact with the glue.

6. Peel one sheet of fringed tissue from the stack and gently fold it in half without creasing it. Apply it to the glue with the fringe side down and the uncut band side up.

7. Work your way up in a circular or spiral pattern to the top of the lantern until it is completely covered, remembering to alternate colors if desired.

8. To make the tassel, cut long pieces of tissue about a quarter of an inch wide. Fold the tissue streamers in half and loop them around the wire form used inside the lantern. Use a small piece of tissue to wrap around the top of the folded bundle, about an inch from the fold, and glue to secure.

9. Hang above your party table, light and you are done!!

  1. What a fun idea – perfect timing for summer parties! Thanks for the post!

  2. This looks fabulous and will sure wow guests (I’m thinking would be great for the guest room too), but I don’t know if I’ll have the patience to glue layers and layers of tissue paper on… alas!

  3. Leah says:

    Yes! I just found this one yesterday:
    Pinatas are fantastic! Thanks for the tutorial.

  4. Cara says:

    I recently rewrapped a pinata this way! I threw a birthday party that was “out of color” and gray pinatas are hard to find.

  5. Apockylypse says:

    Definitely a fun & festive way to decorate your favorite outdoor area! We love to have cookouts as soon as the weather begins to warm up, & this would be a great way to add a little personality to our get-togethers. Thanks for the tutorial!

  6. Christina says:

    really cute but MAN… i would have to pay a little kid to do all that cutting and gluing. that or use really big sheets of tissue paper ;D

  7. b says:

    by the way, here in mexico we fill the piñatas not only with candy, but also with peanuts (in the shell) and mandarin oranges!

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      ooh! i love the idea of one filled with oranges- they don’t bruise and squish when they hit the ground?


  8. now these look fun to make!

  9. beans malone says:

    i cannot wait to makes these with my niece!

  10. What a great idea! So much fun ;)

  11. brandie says:

    Martha Stewart used double-sided tape when she did this recently with tissue paper circles. I think that might prove faster and easier than the glue.

  12. Susan says:

    I made one that lit up inside, like a traditional lantern –

  13. Itziar says:

    That is sooo beautiful and so helpful, as my daughter is turning 3 in a month and I was looking for a tutorial like that one. Thank you.

  14. Genevieve says:

    Hi! Where did you find the lantern on the far left that isn’t a perfect circle?


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