Use these easy fall leaf lantern instructions to make leaf luminaries with whole leaves or cut autumn leaves into heart shapes like the leaf lanterns shown in the photographs. Or, use paper hearts instead!
These DIY heart leaf lanterns make a beautiful gift idea that even kids can make. Little ones, like mine, need assistance, while older children can easily make these gorgeous leaf lantern crafts independently. Or, use these directions to make fall leaf luminaries with natural or fabric leaves. Homemade DIY lantern crafts make festive holiday gifts and decorations and are a great way to light your path on a fall lantern walk!
Feel free to use these directions to make leaf lanterns with whole leaves, using a heart-shaped cutter to trim them into hearts is optional. Leaf lanterns can be filled with treats and a candle or two and given as a gift. They are perfect for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or any other special occasion. You may also like turkey leaf lanterns and gifts kids can make.
Fall Leaf Luminaries
The heart-shaped leaf luminaries pictured here are made with real fall leaves! If you’d rather not cut your leaves into heart-shapes to make lantern crafts, use THESE instructions with a step-by-step video tutorial to make leaf lanterns with whole autumn leaves instead. And, if you don’t have any fall leaves available, you can cut colored tissue or kite paper into heart shapes instead!
Homemade Leaf Lantern Supplies
- Fall Leaves (beautiful yellow, orange, and red leaves – alternatively, you can use construction paper, kite paper, or tissue paper.)
- Wide-mouth 16-ounce canning jars or 32-ounce mason jars
- Squeeze punch heart – SMALL or LARGE (Or use a star punch–my daughter made a leaf lantern craft with stars you can see HERE)
- Mod Podge or watered-down white or PVC glue
- Foam brush
- White tissue paper
- Wide-mouth mason jar handle (optional)
How to Make Leaf Lanterns with Whole or Heart-Shaped Leaves
Follow the step-by-step instructions to make gorgeous heart-shaped leaf luminaries with mason or canning jars. Or, make THESE simple leaf lanterns, or make festive luminaries with a cute Thanksgiving turkey on them!
1. Cut Leaves into heart shapes or stars (optional).
- If you want to leave your leaves (see what I did there?) whole, skip this step or look at the step-by-step DIY leaf lantern instructions with the video tutorial HERE.
- Cut leaves or construction, kite, or tissue paper into heart shapes with scissors, or use a small or large heart paper punch to cut hearts or stars. (My daughter made a leaf lantern craft with hearts, stars, and whole leaves that you can see HERE)
- This step is optional. Fall leaves can also be cleaned and used whole to make fall leaf luminaries.
- You may need to trim the edges of the leaf to easily slide it into the squeeze punch. Kids love helping with this part of the craft project.
2. Cut tissue paper into strips for each leaf lantern craft.
- Cut white tissue paper into strips for the leaf luminaries.
- We recommend cutting strips of white tissue paper 1 1/2 to 2″ wide and slightly longer than the jar you will be covering and making into a leaf lantern.
3. Paint glue onto the mason jar.
- Use a foam brush to apply Mod Podge or a slightly watered-down white or PVC glue to the mason jar.
- Place your hand inside the wide-mouth jar to hold it, and paint the jar in long strokes from just below the threads to the bottom.
- Mod Podge goes on white and dries clear.
4. Stick the tissue paper strips onto the mason jar.
- Carefully stick the tissue paper strips one by one onto the mason jar.
- First, place a circle or square of tissue paper on the bottom of the jar.
- Next, lay each piece of tissue onto the jar just below the top of the threads and wrap it around the bottom.
- Finally, carefully paint glue on top of the tissue paper on the sides and bottom of the jar.
- Ensure that each tissue paper strip is wrapped around the bottom of the jar and glued down.
5. Reapply glue over the strips of tissue paper on the jar.
- Reapply Mod Podge to the sides and bottom of the jar on top of the tissue paper.
- This will both seal and protect the DIY leaf lantern and make it easy to stick the leaves into to glue them down in the next step.
6. Put the heart-shaped leaves into the glue on the mason jar to attach them to the lantern craft.
- Place each leaf onto the jar while the glue is still wet.
- Children love to help with this part of the leaf craft.
- You can move the leaves around a bit once they are stuck to the jar before they dry, but be careful not to disturb the tissue paper–it’s delicate.
- Smooth out any air bubbles by gently rubbing the heart leaves from the center out.
7. Paint glue on top of the leaves on the mason jar.
- Finish the leaf lantern craft by carefully painting glue onto the top of each leaf and all over the entire surface of the jar.
- This will seal, protect, and preserve the leaves so the leaf lanterns can get a little wet and be gently rinsed to clean–but don’t put them into the dishwasher!
- Gently spot clean with a damp cloth to wash.
8. Place leaf luminary crafts upside down to dry.
- Place each DIY leaf luminary upside down to dry.
9. Place a Candle into each DIY Leaf Luminary
- Once the heart leaf luminaries are dry, put a little sand in the bottom of each mason jar lantern and place a natural beeswax tealight candle inside, as shown in the photograph below.
10. Put candy into lantern crafts for gift-giving! (optional)
- Another great gift idea is to fill your DIY lantern with candy and treats with or without the candle.
- Give sweets to your sweetheart or your favorite holiday party host. Heart leaf lanterns make a great gift idea for Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or a birthday!
11. Put a hanger on your homemade lantern craft. (optional)
Leaf Lantern Craft for Kids and Adults
DIY Heart leaf lanterns make beautiful luminaries and are an easy gift idea even kids can make. You can use real fall leaves or tissue paper to make them. Or invite the kids to make plain leaf lantern crafts or these cute turkey leaf luminaries!
They are lovely centerpieces for indoor and outdoor use and would be perfect for an autumn wedding. They can also be filled with treats and a candle and given as gifts for an anniversary, Valentine’s Day, or any other special occasion! You might also enjoy this list of gifts kids can make for parents and grandparents and this list of gift ideas for moms!
Learn more about Rhythms of Play–>HERE!
If you liked heart leaf lanterns, you might also like these fall ideas:
- Turkey Leaf Lanterns
- Keepsake Gifts Kids Can Make
- Watercolor and Fall Leaves Art
- Fall Leaf Lacing
- Acorn Marble Necklaces Nature Craft
- Top 10 Fall Nature Crafts
- Lantern Walk Celebration