Burien Washington - Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services

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How to Make a Lantern!

Balloon Lanterns 



  • Plastic tarps to cover work surfaces
  • Smocks (Elmers glue washes out, but some people don’t like to get messy)
  • Stapler/ staples
  • Scissors (for cutting decorative shapes; tissue can also be torn)
  • Brushes (chip brushes work fine- 1” wide bristles)
  • Hole punch
  • Salsa/ yogurt containers (for glue)
  • Stick (for hanging lantern- bamboo is great!)
  • Twist ties or string (to attach lantern to stick)



  • Oval shaped balloon
  • Corrugated cardboard squares (6X6-ish ") with a small slit cut in it to pull the end of the balloon through to stabilize the balloon while you work on it.)
  • Tagboard (for making collar: cut rectangles about 1.5” X 9”)
  • Vegetable oil, soap, or cream rinse (so paper won’t stick to balloon)
  • Tissue paper (NOT Kleenex!) White and colors- also decorative tissue paper
  • Cheesecloth strips
  • Elmer’s glue. (mix 1:1, one part glue to one part water)
  • Wire (22 gauge- or so- for handle (about 14 long")
  • LED lights, glow sticks, or batter powered candles
  • Duct tape
  • Latex gloves (optional)
  • leaves, feathers (optional/ decorative)



  1. Gather the balloon, cardboard, and tagboard rectangle. Staple the tagboard rectangle into a ring to make a collar.
  2. Inflate a balloon, tie it, draw the tied end through the collar and poke the end of the balloon into a slit in the cardboard (you might need to tape the end to the cardboard with duct tape.)
  3. Rub vegetable oil/ soap/ cream rinse onto the surface of balloon (This keeps the lantern “shell” from sticking to the balloon when you pop the balloon after the paper is completely dry.)
  4. Place strips of white tissue paper all over the balloon, overlapping the edges of the tissue. (The tissue lightly sticks to the oil/ soap.) When the balloon is completely covered with paper, paint the glue and water mixture on the balloon, saturating the paper.
  5. Lay cheesecloth strips across the balloon, crossing on the bottom of the balloon
  6. Cover with another layer of white tissue paper strips (over the cheesecloth strips) and paint the glue and water mixture on the balloon, saturating the paper.
  7. You need a total of (at least) three layers of paper. Your third layer can be colored/decorative paper or white, depending on your design/whim! You can also “sandwich” leaves or feathers onto your balloon. If you sandwich under white paper, the original color of the leaves/feathers will show through. REMEMBER: You are working on the lantern upside down, so think about this when you add words or patterns that have an up/down side) Make sure that you have papered the collar securely onto the balloon. Patch any holes.
  8. Let the balloon dry. (3 hrs to overnight, depending upon the weather: warmth, sun, humidity).
  9. When the balloon is COMPLETELY dry, cut off the tied-end of the balloon.
  10. Punch two holes on opposite sides of the collar to attach the wire for the handle. Cut a piece of wire for a handle. Stick one end of the wire through the collar and secure it by wrapping the wire to itself. Stick the other end of the wire into the hole directly across the collar and wrap it.
  11. Tear a piece of duct tape about 4" long and make a tape ring, sticky side out, tape it to the bottom of a LED light, glow stick, or battery powered candle.  Stand back and admire!


You can use a twist-tie or piece of string to attach your balloon lantern to a stick or piece of bamboo or hang it from a branch. Please do not use a candle in your lantern as they are flammable!

Have Fun!



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