Project: Polka Dot Paper Lanterns

Here is a fun way to add a festive garland to a party that also adds some cool lighting when the sun goes down, Polka Dot Paper Lanterns.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
Even better, these will cost almost nothing to make because you use empty toilet paper rolls! I painted the rolls white and then lined them with some tissue paper I had saved with my wrapping papers. The colors of the tissue paper really pop against the white.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
When they are lit up dots of colored light shine through the tissue. I have to say, it made me a little giddy the first time I plugged these in a dark room.

Polka Dot Paper Lanterns


  • empty toilet paper rolls
  • acrylic or spray paint (optional)
  • glue, school or tacky glue
  • tissue paper
  • floral wire
  • christmas lights*


  • exacto knife
  • hole punch
  • paintbrush (optional)

1. Using the exacto knife, cut the toilet paper tubes in half, to make approximately 2″ tubes.

2. If you are going to paint your tubes, do it now. Let dry.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
3. Punch holes all over the tube.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
For fun I used two different size hole punches.

4. Cut a piece of tissue paper the height of the tube, approx 2″ and long enough to go around the inside of the tube.
Paper Fairy Light Lanterns
5. Put glue on the inside of the tube, making sure to especially get the top and bottom. Glue the tissue paper inside the tube with the color facing out through the holes. Let dry. Trim if needed.
Paper Fairy Light Lanterns Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
Do them all in one color or mix it up like I did.

6. Put a small hole in on either side of the tube about 1/8″ – 1/4″ from the top of the tube. A straight pin does this easily.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
7. Cut a length of floral wire about 5″. Wrap it around the bottom of a bulb on your Christmas lights. Put the ends through the holes you created in step 6 from the inside out.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
Center the bulb inside the lantern and bend the ends of the wire in to secure it.
Polka Dot Paper Lanterns Polka Dot Paper Lanterns

Hang and create a fairy land.

*A note about the lights I used. I experimented with some different Christmas lights for these. At first I used the newer led lights which have a small bulb. The bulb is so small on those it doesn’t light up the whole lantern as well as I would have liked. I switch to the more traditional lights with the longer bulb and you can see how nicely it lights the whole thing. Just make sure you are using modern lights that don’t heat up.

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© 2005 – 2013 Kathy Lewinski & Susan Cornish
11 years ago by in Craft Projects , Crafts , Parties , Projects | You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
41 Comments to Project: Polka Dot Paper Lanterns
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