Fireworks are always the real stars of the show on the Fourth of July. But the holiday is also a great opportunity for all sorts of festive craft projects. Simple red, white, and blue paper lanterns will help set a patriotic mood for any Fourth of July gathering.
Begin with a piece of 12x12-inch craft paper (red, white, blue or patriotic print). If you're going to add any additional embellishments to the paper, such as star-shaped cutouts, shiny star stickers or even just hand-drawn decoration, do it before you begin cutting. You also can trim the edges of the paper using pinking shears or other decorative scissors to create a more polished look.
Once your paper design is ready to go, fold the paper in half and crease. Use regular scissors to make several (at least five or six) slits starting at the crease in the paper, taking care not to cut all the way to the end. Leave at least two inches as a border. Unfold the paper and carefully wrap the ends of the paper together until they meet, maintaining the rounded shape. Match up the ends of the paper evenly. Create a small overlap and apply a layer of glue or use a stapler to attach the ends together (a stapler seems to work better for this task). Cut a piece of coordinating ribbon and use the stapler to attach it as a handle to the top of the lantern.
There are two different ways to display your paper lanterns. You can string several lanterns along a piece of string or ribbon and hang them up as a display. You even could hang the lanterns on a string of white holiday lights to create a festive outdoor party look.
Another option is to use flameless, LED tea lights to illuminate the lanterns from the inside (note that these are not real candles, so there is no fire hazard). If you choose this option, put one tea light in the bottom of each lantern and display them on a table.
Caitlin Murray Giles is a full-time mother of three and part-time freelance writer living in Wicker Park.
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