mid-autumn at home


That’s me, quite a few moons ago, cel­e­brat­ing Mid-Autumn Fes­ti­val in Hong Kong. (And that’s my cousin on the left. Since he blocked his own face with his lantern-wield­ing hands I won’t blur out his head :P) I think they actu­al­ly let us play with can­dle-lit lanterns back then :S


And here I am many moons lat­er, with safe, bat­tery-oper­at­ed lanterns (and Mike’s inter­pre­tive moon-gaz­ing — sad­ly, our bal­cony does­n’t face the moon).

It’s Mid-Autumn Fes­ti­val today! :D 

Kind of like Hal­loween here in some ways. Instead of going around the neigh­bour­hood dressed in cos­tumes kids would bring their lanterns and play on the street with their friends. An impor­tant part of the tra­di­tion is moon-gaz­ing, but I only remem­ber every­one sit­ting around fold­ing tables on the rooftop eat­ing pome­los and moon­cakes. Not a lot of gaz­ing but every­one had fun chat­ting anyway. 

And then sud­den­ly the kids feel too old for lanterns. But they still get togeth­er for din­ner with families. 

Until one real­ly is get­ting old, then one gets all nos­tal­gic and starts mak­ing lanterns and eat­ing moon­cakes around Mid-Autumn Festival.

I thought I’d share how I made the lanterns so you can cel­e­brate Mid-Autumn Fes­ti­val at home too, If you like :D Or it might come in handy if one needs a dec­o­ra­tive lantern for oth­er occasions. 


I used:

An emp­ty plas­tic water bottle

2 sheets of con­tact paper (or clear shelf-lin­er), approx. 6.5″ x 8″ (one may need to adjust this depend­ing on the size of the bottle)

Bits of dif­fer­ent colour tis­sue paper (I cut them in small squares)

Bat­tery-oper­at­ed tea light (don’t use real can­dles with this!)

A length of yarn

A chop­stick from Chi­nese takeout

An elas­tic band


Hole punch­er

Clear tape


First, peel off the back­ing of one sheet of the con­tact paper and place it on the table sticky side up. Arrange bits of tis­sue paper on it until the con­tact paper is most­ly cov­ered. Then peel off the back­ing of the oth­er sheet of con­tact paper and place it direct­ly on the con­tact paper with tis­sue paper on it, match­ing all sides (to the best of one’s abil­i­ty — it can be tricky to match all sides per­fect­ly. It can always be trimmed later).

Basi­cal­ly, the bits of tis­sue paper are sand­wiched between 2 sheets of con­tact paper. 

Fold­ing the con­tact paper sand­wich in half length­wise, make even cuts across, leav­ing about an inch of space at the top.

(Apolo­gies for the grimy-look­ing sam­ple I have in the pic­tures — I made the sam­ple a month ago while run­ning a craft work­shop, and as it sat on my work table all kinds of dust got stuck to the sticky edges of the con­tact paper :S)

Once all the cuts are made it looks like this, with uncut one inch spaces at both the top and the bot­tom of the sheet.

Now cut off the top, dome part of the plas­tic bottle.

Wrap the long side of the con­tact paper around the top of the plas­tic bot­tle. Tear a length of clear tape, place half over where the two ends of the con­tact paper meet, and fold the oth­er half over the rim so it sticks to the inside of the bottle.

Place more tape around the rim of the bot­tle in the same man­ner to secure it.

Then, turn the bot­tle upside down so the bot­tom is fac­ing up. Bring the edge of the con­tact paper down so it lines up with the bot­tom of the bot­tle. Tear a length of clear tape, place half over where the two ends of the con­tact paper meet, and fold the over half over so it sticks to the bot­tom of the bottle. Place more tape around the bot­tom of the bot­tle in the same man­ner to secure it.

(Again, sor­ry about the close-up pic­ture of dust >_<)

Punch one hole close to the rim of the bot­tle, and anoth­er hole direct­ly oppo­site from the first hole.

Tie a length of yarn to the holes. I made bows so they look a bit like tassels.

Wrap the elas­tic band around the end of the chop­stick, so when the lantern is hang­ing on it it won’t slip off.

Ta-da! Pret­ty sim­ple eh. Now we just have to wait for nightfall…


And… it’s night time! :D


The Chi­nese peo­ple asso­ciate Mid-Autumn Fes­ti­val with fam­i­ly reunion or gath­er­ing. Because the word for “round” in Chi­nese is pho­net­i­cal­ly sim­i­lar to the word for “reunion”. (That’s why moon cakes have whole egg yolks in them — because they’re round. Chi­nese peo­ple are all about symbolism.)

And so today as I enjoy moon­cake and walk around with my lantern I’m grate­ful for fam­i­ly. I’m so very grate­ful for the man who always sup­ports me enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly, from decid­ing to go back to school for the nth time to stand­ing around on the bal­cony with a lit-up plas­tic water bot­tle. And I’m think­ing of my fam­i­ly whom I don’t see every­day. We may not be able to cel­e­brate togeth­er but I pray that they would be safe, and their hearts con­tent with joy as they gaze at the same full moon across the distance. 

And I wish you good health and hap­pi­ness for the fall season!