Scroll down to learn how to make gorgeous glowing fall leaf lanterns and autumn luminary crafts with natural fresh or faux fabric leaves and canning (or mason) jars with the easy step-by-step instructions below!
Learn how to make a gorgeous fall leaf lantern or autumn luminary with this DIY craft tutorial, complete with a step-by-step video tutorial. We love to make leaf lanterns and luminaries with freshly fallen autumn leaves that we find on our daily excursions into the natural world–but artificial fabric leaves can also be used. You might also enjoy this list of nature craft ideas made with leaves and other natural materials from Mother Nature’s bounty.
Or make a fall leaf lantern craft with a cute turkey in the middle to add to your Thanksgiving decor, or cut leaves (or paper) into heart shapes to make autumn leaf luminaries that add light to your hearts and homes during the long dark days of late autumn and early winter. You will notice that my daughter used natural leaves and leaves cut into star and heart shapes to make her DIY lantern on the left in the photographs below, while I kept my leaves whole to make the leaf lantern craft on the right.
Easy Fall Leaf Lantern Craft
If you are wondering how to make a simple lantern, you’ve come to the right spot. This post shares how to make leaf lanterns and luminaries with gorgeous fresh fallen autumn leaves or faux fabric leaves–a DIY project for kids and adults. First, gather the supplies listed in the next section, then scroll down to follow the step-by-step directions to make leaf lantern crafts.
Read the directions and watch the video tutorial before inviting children to make fall leaf lantern crafts. The leaf lantern video tutorial is posted below the step-by-step instructions. You might also enjoy fall leaf watercolor painting.
Leaf Lantern Craft Supply List:
- Fresh fallen or fabric autumn leaves
- Leaf press or paper and heavy books
- Wide-mouth mason or canning jars (32-ounce shown in photographs)
- Tissue paper – white or colored
- Mod Podge or watered-down white or PVC glue
- Foam brush
- Beeswax tealight or votive candles, flameless candles, or fairy lights
- Wire hanger or handle for wide-mouth mason jars (optional)
How to make a Leaf Lantern Craft Step-By-Step
Impress neighbors, family, and friends with DIY lanterns made with natural fresh fallen autumn leaves. Or make a handmade leaf lantern craft with a turkey or hearts. (Click the links to make turkey or heart mason jar lanterns.)
Use the easy step-by-step instructions below to make leaf luminaries for your fall lantern walk, autumn DIY home decor, a fall wedding, or to add to your festive holiday decor for Thanksgiving, the winter solstice, or Christmas.
1. Collect fresh fall or faux autumn leaves.
- Encourage kids or adults to go outside to look for beautiful fresh fallen autumn leaves.
- Or purchase faux silk fall leaves to make leaf lanterns.
- Use extra fall leaves to make:
- leaf crowns, watercolor art, lacing cards, and more!
2. Clean and press leaves.
- Clean and press fall leaves before using them to make leaf lantern crafts following the steps below.
- Rinse autumn leaves with water.
- Gently pat dry with a towel.
- Use a leaf press to gently flatten leaves OR:
- Place several leaves between paper or paper towels to absorb any excess moisture.
- Put a large, heavy book or another heavy flat object on top of the paper and leaves to flatten or press the leaves.
- Allow leaves to press for several hours before using them to make leaf luminary crafts.
- Learn more about pressing and preserving leaves–>HERE.
3. Cut strips of tissue paper.
- Cut white tissue paper (think gift wrapping, not toilet tissue–lol) into 1-and-1/2-inch to 2-inch strips that are a bit longer than the mason or canning jar you are using.
4. Brush glue onto a mason or canning jar.
- Wash and dry a mason jar or glass bottle from the recycling bin.
- Put glue into a clean recycled container with a lid for reuse. (We like recycled sour cream, cottage cheese, and whipped cream cheese containers!)
- Apply white glue to the mason jar in long brush strokes from just below the threads of the canning jar to the bottom of the jar.
- Ensure that the bottom of the glass jar is also covered in glue.
5. Lay the strips of tissue paper on top of the glue and wrap them around the bottom of the jar.
- Carefully lay each strip of tissue paper into the glue on the jar, starting just under the threads of the mason jar.
- Wrap each strip around the bottom and cover it with more glue.
6. Gently brush glue on top of tissue paper strips.
- Brush glue on top of each tissue paper once placed on the jar.
- Look at the photo tutorial below to better understand how to do each step–or scroll down to watch the DIY lantern video posted below these written instructions.
7. Arrange and glue fall leaves onto the mason jar.
- Gently arrange each leaf onto the mason jar and glue it down.
- Some leaves can be applied to the jar without adding extra glue, while others are easier to attach to the canning jar when the glue is brushed onto the bottom of the leaf before placing it onto the jar.
- If you would like to cut leaves into hearts and stars as my daughter did, use the directions HERE.
8. Ensure each leaf is covered with glue.
- Add glue on top of and under each leaf to seal, protect, and ensure that they are glued down.
9. Place the leaf lantern Craft upside down to dry.
- Carefully take your hand out of the mason jar and put it upside down to dry.
- Check on the fall leaf luminary every so often as it dries to gently press the leaves back into the glue on the mason jar and smooth out any air bubbles.
10. Add a hanger and a candle or fairy lights to Leaf Lantern Craft.
- Put a handle or a hanger on your fairy jar to hang or hold when you go on your fall lantern walk or advent spiral walk.
- Place a beeswax tealight or votive candle inside, or use a flameless candle or fairy lights.
- We recommend putting natural beeswax candles in leaf lanterns for decorating your DIY home decor–and fairy string lights in DIY lanterns to hang or hold on to or walk with. Either option makes leaf luminaries look simply divine! There are fairy lights in the DIY lantern in the photograph below.
DIY Leaf Lantern Photo & Video Tutorial
Here’s the how-to video to help you understand how to make gorgeous leaf lanterns with natural fresh fallen autumn leaves. After making them a few times, we have discovered that it is much easier to make leaf lantern crafts with leaves that have been cleaned and pressed before starting this DIY project. Click the step-by-step instructional leaf lantern video below to make a DIY lantern.
DIY Fall Leaf Luminaries and Autumn Lanterns
Homemade leaf luminaries make festive decorations (that are beautiful when lit with a candle and unlit) when displayed as a centerpiece for a fall wedding, Thanksgiving, or even Christmas.
They look just as lovely adorning shelves, and anywhere else, you might place a candle to light your way at night. And these lovely homemade lanterns also make gorgeous luminaries for a fall lantern walk or an advent spiral walk for the winter solstice.
Autumn leaf luminaries are some of my favorite things to make in the fall because they make festive holiday decor and a lovely handmade gift idea for the holiday season. Make one for the chef or chefs cooking your holiday meals to say thanks, or look at this list of homemade gifts kids can make for inspiration and more DIY gift ideas.
Or make DIY leaf lanterns with a turkey or hearts. Click the links to learn how!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play–>HERE!
More Fall Leaf Crafts for Kids and Adults
- Sewing with Fall Leaf Lacing Cards
- Leaf Baby Book Inspired Art Project
- Fall Leaves Watercolor Painting
- How to Make Marbled Clay Leaves
- Fall Leaf Crown Crafts
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