2015 – the Year of Light – DIY Lantern

international year of light
2015 – International Year of Light

In order to raise global awareness about how ‘light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health’, in 2013 the UN General Assembly declared 2015 to be the Year of Light.

The Year of  Light is being celebrated with festivities throughout Winter all over the world, including New Zealand.

To celebrate the Year of Light in Christchurch, KidsFest is launching their winter school holiday festival with a Lantern Parade. And this is how I got started on this post…

I am a New Zealander of German heritage, and every year while I was growing up we would celebrate St Martin’s Day with a Lantern Parade. One of the best parts was making our own lanterns. It would seem however, that there is a lack of easy, straightforward candle lantern making tutorials on the internet (unless you speak German or have some fancy materials).

So if you are thinking of getting on board and celebrating the Year of Light this winter, or want a cool school holiday activity for the kids, I have put together a picture tutorial especially for you.

DIY Paper Lantern with Candle

What you need:

Materials for DIY candle lantern making
Materials for DIY candle lantern making
  • Scissors
  • A pen
  • Double sided tape or glue stick
  • Lunchwrap paper
  • Cardboard (recycle a cereal box maybe), or alternatively two paper plates.
  • Crayons or felts
  • String
  • An arms length stick.
  • A tea light
  • A flat topped push pin
  • A plate and a bowl (or another plate) with a diameter smaller than the plate

What to do:

  1. On the cardboard, make two circles by tracing around the plate. Using the bowl trace an inner circle into one of the two circles you just made. The cut the circles out so that you end up with a disc shape and a ring shape. If using paper plates cut the inner circle out of one of the plates.IMG_0089IMG_0090
  2. Cut a length of string (I used a ribbon) that is approximately three times the length of the diameter of the cardboard disc.IMG_0094
  3. Pin the tea light to the centre of the cardboard disc using the push pin (I used a paperclip because I couldn’t find a push pin – works fine). Poke holes on opposite sides of the cardboard ring and tie on the length of sting.IMG_0095 IMG_0097
  4. Measure and cut a length of lunchwrap that is about 2cm longer than the circumference of the circles.IMG_0096
  5. Decorate the paper using crayons or felts. Get creative – go wild. It’s ok to leave white space.IMG_0099
  6. Fold the long edges of the lunchwrap inward at about a 2cm thickness, then cut thick sections, like a fringe, all the way along using the fold as a cutting guide.IMG_0100
  7. Glue or double-sided tape the edge on the inner-side of your cardboard disc, and ring, and attach the lunchwrap. Glue the overlapping lunchwrap edge (or tape) then stick down (cut off any extra fringe). This gets a bit fiddly, you might need to help younger children.IMG_0101 IMG_0106 IMG_0107
  8. Using the scissors (ADULTS ONLY), cut a notch about 5cm in from the end of your stick. Then tie a loop knot (big enough to slip onto your stick) approximately half way along the string on your lantern. Hang the lantern on the stick, resting the string in the notch you made.IMG_0108 IMG_0110
  9. Your lantern is complete! To light it – hold it sideways and light the tea light with a match or lighter, or hold upright and use a lighter wand through the top hole .IMG_0112

IMPORTANT: The lanterns are flammable and children must always be supervised when lighting and carrying lit lanterns.

Grab your lanterns and head out into the night, sings songs and parade your neighbourhood before returning home for delicious hot cocoa.


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