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How Many Paper Lanterns to Hang?

Updated on June 3, 2013

So you’ve finally decided to hang strings of paper lanterns, particularly Chinese lanterns, for your home, wedding, or event and if you’re now stuck with the question, “How many paper lanterns to hang?”, then this quick guide is especially made to help you get through your lantern decorating needs.

Measure the Area of the Space Over Which to Hang the Paper Lanterns.

This step actually helps you to find the largest lantern size that is suited for a room or decorating space, which number can then serve as your guide as to the smaller lantern sizes to pick if ever you want to use a mix of the different lantern sizes for your decorating theme.

When decorating indoors: Measure the length, width, and height of the room over which to hang the paper lanterns and then sum up the resulting length and width (ignore the unit of value) to know the largest lantern size that is suited for the specific area.

From this example, a 14-inch paper lantern can, thus, be considered as the largest lantern size to hang over a space that measures 8 meters long x 6 meters wide, and you can fill these lanterns in-between with 12, 10, or 8 inch paper lanterns to create a floating array of paper lanterns. Now, if you want to hang just one (1) or a few pieces of paper lanterns on the same space as a pendant light, then a 14-inch paper lantern will make for a fine choice.

When determining the height or the length of the cord from which to hang the above paper lanterns, be sure to take note, however, of the ceiling height and the height of the tallest guests or persons in the room. Ensure at least a 1 foot allowance between the bottom of the lantern and the height of the tallest guest, or consider a smaller-sized lantern for your largest lantern to provide for the same.

When decorating just a part of an indoor space, like the dance floor of the party venue only, then measure the width, length, and ceiling height of the space that is allotted only for the dance floor, and then follow the same procedures as above in determining the other paper lantern sizes to hang over said space. This technique not only helps you to centre your lanterns or make them look balanced or proportional for said space, it even allows you to create different lantern decorating themes over the various functional areas of your large party space, i.e., unique lantern decorating themes for the dance floor, dining area, and lounge area.

When decorating outdoors:

Similarly, just measure the length and width of the space over which you intend to hang your paper lanterns, hang it at a suitable height, providing at least a foot allowance between the bottom of the lantern and the height of the tallest guest or, like most DIY decorators would basically do, hang it at a level approximately equal to the height of the eaves of a nearby structure for a balanced look.

Make a Rough Sketch of Your Decorating Theme on Paper

Plot your lantern decorating theme on paper by drawing a floor plan of the space that you are about to decorate, including the walls, poles, and ceiling beams that can possibly hold your lanterns. Next, make a rough sketch as to how you want the lanterns to be arranged, i.e., whether you want them to hang from the ceiling beams of a wedding marquee, between poles, or between walls, and draw circles onto the latter to make a rough plan as to which lantern sizes should go across each length.

Determine How Many Paper Lanterns to Hang

Finally, measure the distance between the hanging surfaces to know the length of the string lights that you need to use or buy and then determine the sizes of paper lanterns and the quantity of paper lanterns that you need to hang across each lantern string light’s length and across your decorating space.

Important Tips:

  • Ensure a suitable space between the lanterns on each end of the string light and their respective hanging surface to create a balanced look.
  • In determining the length of a lantern string to hang between two (2) hanging surfaces, such as between walls, also measure the distance between the last bulb socket and the power plug to avoid the problem of your lantern string running short to the power plug.
  • Provide a suitable allowance for the drape if your decorating theme requires that your string lantern lights be hung in a draped manner or with a slight drape.


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