Craft Projects DIY Home Decor DIY projects

How To Make DIY Decorative Lanterns

I wanted to decorate our  fireplace and fill in some of the empty shelves in our living room.  I really love when you can create your own home décor and thought it would be an easy project to make different sized lanterns to decorate and fill in some empty spaces.  The lanterns turned out to be great décor items that I could decorate for any season.  I made three lanterns.  One Tall, one Medium and one Small.  Here is how I made them


  • 4 Dollar store tall picture frames 14.5″ tall 8″ wide
  • 4  Dollar store medium picture frames 11″tall 9″ wide
  • 4  Dollar store small picture frames 7″ tall 5.5″wide
  • 2 10″x10″ wood squares (for tall picture frames)
  • 2 12″x12″ wood squares. (for medium picture frames)
  • 2 7″x7″ wood squares (for small frames)
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • Wood Stain ( I used a really light stain)
  • Wood glue
  • Decorative knobs
  • Wooden bun foot (for table feet)
  • Fun items to put in your lanterns to decorate

We cut the wood squares ourselves since we have a saw but they will also cut the wood for you at some hardware stores.

Step 1( Organize and secure the frames)

Plug in the glue gun load it with glue stick and put it in a safe space where it wont fall.  Organize the frames so that you have all your like size frames together if you are making multiple lanterns.  Grab the glue gun and glue the glass panes to the frames so that they are secure.  Do this for all your frames and then let dry for an hour or so.  

Step 2 (Glue frames together)

Start with your tall picture frames that are all the same size and glue the sides of them together creating the lantern shape.  I used holders like books for them to lean on in order to hold them together while they dry. Repeat this for all the like sized frames if you are making multiple lanterns.  Let the lanterns dry at least overnight to make sure they are secure.  

Step 3 (Sand and stain the wood)

You could wrap your wood squares in contact paper if you find a pattern you like but I recommend staining the wood pieces.  I love staining wood because it brings out and highlights the woods natural pattern.  First sand the wood.  Sanding the wood allows for the stain to grab onto the wood better.  Staining is super easy you don’t even need a paint brush.  Grab a rag (we keep a collection of old clothes and cut them up into rags) and use it to rub the stain into the wood.  Do as many coats as you think looks good and let dry for a couple hours.  It doesn’t take too long for the stain to dry depending on how many coats you used.  

Step 4 (Glue the wood)

Once your wood and picture frames have dried you are ready to glue on your base.  Take your tall lantern frames that you glued together and place it in the middle of one of its corresponding wood pieces (1 of the 10×10 wood pieces).  Using a pencil trace around the lantern bottom on the wood.  Use the wood glue and glue within the pencil lines square.  Place the lantern frames on the glue.  Note that you don’t need too much wood glue.  A little goes a long way and gets kind of messy if you use too much.   The glue dries clear though so don’t worry.  Repeat this step for all the other size lanterns if you are making more than one. Do not glue the tops on because you want to be able to decorate the inside.

Step 5 (Drill items to lids)

Choose bun foot to match one of your lid wood pieces.  Drill a small hole in the lid and screw in your bun foot to the top of the lid.  Then drill a small hole in the top of your bun foot and screw in your decorative knob. 

If you don’t feel comfortable drilling, you can glue smaller wood pieces and decorative knobs to the top of your lid with the wood glue.

Step 6 (Decorate)

After the wood dries decorate the inside of your lanterns.  You can switch out the decorations for every season!

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