Monday, February 18, 2013

Red Envelope Project: Red Envelope Lantern 紅包燈籠/紅包灯笼

Do you like this "lantern" 燈籠/灯笼 (Cantonese: dang1 lung4/ Mandarin: deng1 long2)? Do you want to make one?
This 燈籠/灯笼  is made out of "red envelopes" 紅包 (Cantonese: hung4 baau1, Mandarin: hong2 bao1)

Thanks to Helen Man and Tina Lee, instructors at ALESN, I was able to learn how to make such a beautiful flower ball decoration out of Chinese red envelopes.

I have attached a link here in case you want to download the FREE PDF file that I made for this project.

Otherwise, the online instructions are below! Enjoy!

Materials Needed:
24 Cardboard Pieces that can fit inside the red envelopes
24 Red Envelopes
Red String
Chinese-Charms, keychain, or anything decorative for the bottom of your lantern

Scotch tape

Step 1: Preparation
Insert a cardboard piece into a red envelope. Leave the flap of the envelope open.
Do this for all 24 Red envelopes.
If you choose not to use cardboard, your lantern might come out flimsy in the end.

Step 2: Taping The Lantern
Line up six red envelopes vertically facing down.
Tape the envelopes together with the unclosed flap directly above the next envelope.
The picture on the left shows what the front should look like after taping.

Step 3: Taping The Lantern
Turn the row of six envelopes to face down again.
With the flap of the red envelope closed, place a new envelope with the back-side facing up and place it directly on top of the envelope that is furthest to your right. Tape the left side of the new envelope to the gap between first and second red envelopes on the right.
Next, repeat the process with a new envelope on top of the second envelope from your right except with the backside of the envelope facing down. Remember to only tape the left side of the envelope.
Repeat this step four more times, reversing the envelope sides each time, making sure all flaps of the new envelopes are closed.

You should have used 12 envelopes in total so far.

Step 4: Taping The Lantern
Set the whole project on its side, drawing out the second set of envelopes.
You should be able to match up the first two red envelopes on the right to make a triangle and tape them together.

Repeat with the third and fourth red envelopes and also with the fifth and sixth red envelopes.

Step 5: Taping The Lantern
At this point, the tip of the first triangle on the right should meet with the tip of the second triangle. Tape the tips together.
Leave the third triangle on the left alone.

Step 6: Taping The Lantern
Take out your red string and fold your red piece of string in half. Make sure the string is still long enough to go through your imaginary lantern and more for the loop at the top and to hang the charm at the bottom.
At the area where your folded your string, estimate how big your want the top loop of your lantern to be and tie a knot at the bottom of the loop.
Place your knot on top of the two triangle tips where you last scotch taped and tape the red string against where you previously taped to reinforce the red string to the middle of the lantern.

Step 7: Taping The Lantern
Tape the tip of the last triangle on the left to the middle of the lantern.

Close up the hexagon by taping the last end of the red envelope to the original first envelope.

 Your lantern should look like this so far.
You have just made the top half of your lantern!

Step 8: Taping The Lantern
Repeat steps 2 and 3 except that you are lining the envelopes horizontally and not vertically.

Step 9: Taping The Lantern
Repeat step 5 again, taping the right two triangles tips together.
At this point, it is easy to place the top of your lantern upside down, pulling the remaining red string upwards and taping it against the middle of the bottom half of the lantern, making sure that the vertical hexagon is also upside down. Close up the bottom hexagon. 

Step 10: Taping The Lantern
Reinforce the insides of the lantern with more tape, unless you like it loose.

It looks prettier when the angles of the top and bottom sides match up.

Step 11: Applying the Charm
Using the remaining string, tie the charm to the bottom of the string. You can cut off any remaining string or do something creative with the leftover string.

Wallah! We have a red envelope lantern!
Optional step: There are options such as rolling up some more envelopes vertically or horizontally and taping it to the sides of the lantern for a more Asian style.

Another option is to get a thin stick and attach it to the top of the lantern so you can hold it like a real lantern in the night for fun.


  1. Hi, I just found this blog and I just wanted to thank you for all the posts and links since I've found a lot of the information very useful as a beginner in studying Cantonese.

    I'll definitely be checking back here regularly as I continue my language journey!

  2. Thanks ngjyufeifan for such encouraging comments. I think you are the first person to ever comment on my blog. I will continue to work hard and create more posts. :)

    In the future, I plan to also open up a Cantonese-focused blog as well where I talk about Cantonese language more in depth, translated film clips, and my thoughts about Cantonese phrases in general. It will be a blog to help students learn Cantonese from an American point-of-view.

  3. Wow, that would be amazing. I've never been able to find many good resources for Cantonese online, which is a shame since I think it's such an intriguing language, so I'd make use of any info or advice you could share on that blog as well as here.