Make a Paper Lantern for Lunar New Year – free printable PDF

3 red and gold handmade paper lanterns with cut-outs of rabbits on a wooden tabletop

Happy Lunar New Year! 2023 is the year of the Water Rabbit, predicting a gentler year of peace, patience, and hope. Celebrate by making a beautiful paper lantern with cardstock, tissue paper, and our free printable PDF.

Lunar New Year celebrations begin on the first day of the first lunar month – which was January 22nd – marked by family gatherings, big dinners with foods that symbolize goals and manifestations like dumplings for fortune and sticky rice balls for togetherness, boisterous firecrackers, parades with lion and dragon dances, and red pocket money, all ending with a lantern festival on the fifteenth day and first full moon which falls on February 5th this year.

The lantern is a lucky charm that can drive away evil spirits when lit, and the rabbit-shaped cut-outs on our printable will bring longevity, peace and prosperity.

Supplies and Tools

  • Template printed on 11”x 17” paper – a medium to heavy weight paper like cardstock works best
  • Tissue paper in assorted colors – you will need four 3” x 4” rectangles to make one lantern
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • X-Acto blade (optional)
  • Bone folder (optional)
  • Battery-operated tea light

Instructions for Making Your Paper Lantern

  • PREP: Cut out four 3″ x 4″ pieces of tissue paper for each lantern.
  • Print template on to 11” x 17” cardstock or other heavyweight paper. If you don’t want the printing marks to show, make sure that the printed side will be the inside of your lantern.
    • TIP: Trace the cut template onto colored paper to give your lantern a customized look.
  • Cut out lantern template along the solid lines.
    • TIP: Use an X-Acto blade to cut out the smaller shapes around the rabbit.
  • Glue 1 piece of tissue paper to each of the cutout panels on the inside of lantern.
  • Fold along the dashed lines. A bone folder or old credit card is useful for scoring and folding heavier weight paper.
  • Glue the side tab that is labeled “Glue here” and attach to the opposite side to form the lantern box shape. Follow these steps to fold the bottom of the lantern:
a diagram showing 4 steps on how to fold the bottom of a paper lantern
  • Place a battery-operated tea light into the bottom of the lantern.
  • To fold the top, slip the top slotted panels over the two panels with rings, to form a handle.
a handmade red paper lantern to celebrate the year of the rabbit with a handle on top, rabbit-shaped cutouts and yellow tissue paper windows