Last summer I performed an experiment. I wanted to hang some paper lanterns out in my garden, but I didn’t want to have to worry about bringing them indoors every time it rained, which around here can be frequent and with little warning. I started to wonder if there was any way to make them a little more weatherproof. The idea actually first popped into my head when I was planning my wedding (which was outdoors) and found myself worrying that while a little rain wouldn’t make me or my dress melt, it might make my decorations come crashing down. I tried a couple of different things to make them stand up to the rain last summer, and I can report that after using this method, my lanterns hung in my garden for the entire summer, and through a few monsoon-like storms, before they finally fell apart in the fall. If you can make them stand up to such rigorous testing, they will surely last all the way through a damp wedding ceremony as well! Here’s how.
- Paper lanterns, $1 and up
- Clear spray paint, on hand or $1 and up
- Clear packaging tape, on hand or $1 and up
Total: $1 and up
First, assemble the lantern by unfolding it and inserting the bracket into the inside. Hang the lantern up somewhere and give it a few good coats of clear spray paint. This won’t make the paper completely waterproof, but it will help to keep the lantern from being saturated by rain. (Be aware that the spray paint may slightly darken the color of the lantern; keep this in mind if you want your lanterns to be specific shades, like for a wedding.)
Once the spray paint is dry, remove the bracket. The lantern should hold its shape on its own. It is very important that you remove the bracket. When the paper gets wet and then dries it will expand and contract; if you leave the bracket in the lantern, it will slip out of place when the paper is wet and then, when the paper dries, it will force the ends of the bracket up through the paper and poke holes. I found this out the hard way.
Not all paper lanterns are created equally, so yours may be different, but I did identify one more weak point on the dollar store lanterns. See these little pegs? They are what holds the lantern to the plastic bit at the top where it hangs. This is also where all of the weight of the lantern is supported. It’s light when dry, but the combination of weight and weakness caused by wetting the lantern means that this point is in danger of ripping out and making your lantern fall.
Solve this problem with a couple of small pieces of packaging tape. Use the tape to cover both the pegs and the surrounding cardboard.
Now hang your lantern and enjoy, resting easy in the knowledge that a little bit of wet weather won’t ruin your party!