The genius of the paper lantern lies in their ability to float above all else, creating a magical canopy of light, color and wonder. They are one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to transform any room or event and are the staple secret weapon of many an event designer. Celebrity soiree expert Marley Majcher shares her tips and tricks here, with plenty of inspiration, no matter the occasion. Whether you’re a party planning pro, or just starting out as the host of a grand luncheon, baby shower or birthday party, this is all you need to be proficient in paper party décor!
Hanging Paper Lanterns Part 1
For a more in-depth how-to on purchasing and installing paper lanterns, check out our guide
- Pre-plan your rigging points. Paper lanterns are light and fairly easy to hang, but it really helps if you know ahead of time where you can tether them securely.
- Consider the height. Hanging a horizontal string of lanterns means that the one at the bottom of the curve will be hanging considerably lower than those at the top, so make sure they aren’t in the line of fire on the dance floor!
- Go bang-for-the-buck. Lanterns are colorful, easy to work with and provide great volume on a budget, so don’t hesitate when it comes to scale. Make sure you have enough to furnish large spaces. If in doubt, order extra! You can’t go wrong on this.
“Paper lanterns are so easy – they’re light, inexpensive and super efficient to transport because they pack flat. Combine that with the fact that they are readily available in so many sizes, shapes and colors and you’ll find few décor items eclipse their versatility.”
For celebrations and baby showers...
Photo Credit: Raquel Bianca of Untamed Studios
When it comes to kids and babies, you want the world of fun and make-believe to come to life – for the whole party to walk into a space that feels transformed. Paper lanterns give living rooms and event venues a celebratory whimsy that really pops. Mix and match with
for darling, pastiche-pretty results.
Use color! For baby anything, you want the mood to be cheerful and uplifting, so blending a combination of colors to create an ombre feel is one that’s great to adopt, especially if you don’t want to stick to traditional lighter shades of pink, blue or yellow, which can feel predictable. I’ll take the most saturated color and buy the next three shades down from it, ending with white, to achieve an ombre look across a ceiling or in a corner, chandelier-style.
“Similar to weddings, a magical feeling is easily created with lanterns by repeating variations of the same color, and mixing up the sizes and shapes while sticking to an overall theme.”
Think creatively by including lanterns in areas prone to photos like the backdrop of the brunch buffet, dessert station or where mom will be opening her gifts. You can even use them to adorn large gifts that are difficult to wrap, such as a crib, in place of wrapping paper.
“Combinations like navy, indigo and even corals and papaya are really trending. I’ve also used tons of metallics lately. We’ve transcended some of the more traditional colors for these unusual pairings because people haven’t seen them as much. They really stand out. But even if you stick with traditional colors, paper lanterns always tend to deliver a chic feeling. So be bold with trends or harness more traditions – you really can’t go too wrong.”
For home decor...
Photo Credit: Ziv Sade
The funny thing about paper lanterns is that most people only think “event” or “wedding” when it comes to using them, but I have clients all over Los Angeles who use them as part of their home décor palette because they’re so versatile and easy. A space feels very different according to the light fixture – so rather than a chandelier or an expensive piece – I’ve substituted paper lanterns and the room still feels thoughtful and chic.
For extra vavoom, match glass decorative accents to your palette. As pictured here – in her Venice home, design doyenne
lined her mantle with Gold
and Turquoise Blue
to accentuate thoughtfully placed paper lanterns in white and gilt.
These are my Do’s and Don’ts for Décor:
Don’t: You don’t want your house to look like a party – yet paper lanterns are a great, affordable resource for lighting. Unlike a one-off event, in your home, you’re LIVING with your design for a while. Take a more minimal approach. Small clusters versus big, and subdued color versus saturated.
Don’t: Refrain from hanging paper lanterns in wet and humid areas like bathrooms or outdoor spaces, even if they are protected, since moisture and sun will dim their charm over time.
Do: As with all decorating tips, consider the overall style and color story of the house or room to keep focus on the goals. Lanterns can effectively warm up a loft-like space by “dropping” the ceiling, which serves a different purpose than using them to light up a dark reading nook.
Do: Experiment! Now that we have so many color options, it’s easy to incorporate lanterns no matter what the interior color story of the home. For example, babies love movement, contrasting and strong colors, but you still have to be careful of the scale. Unless the nursery is the size of a ballroom, better to stick with smaller options hung safely away from little paws.
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