Cigarette Box Paper Lantern

If you smoke cigarettes, this is a nifty little way to reuse your old boxes. (:

I smoke Camel Turkish Royals, and I think the boxes look pretty cool. In my last apartment, I decided to cover a whole wall in Turkish Royal Boxes. It was so perfect, because my boyfriend has this old sign that says "Camel Cigarettes Sold Here." See photo. Anyhow, taking that wall down when we moved out was a total pain, and now that we're in a new place, I wanted to do something different with all my saved boxes. We have had this paper lantern light socket in the closet for God knows how long, and I have a full box in the closet of spent cigarette and beer boxes. Thus, with an idea, the things in my closet, and a box of brads, this lantern was born.

Step 1: Materials

If you smoke cigarettes, save up your boxes and the lantern has paid for itself. (:

24 Spent cigarette boxes. I used 18 boxes of Camel Turkish Royals and 6 boxes of Camel No. 9's.
96 Brads, isn't it a good thing these come in boxes of 100?
1 Lantern light socket designed for use with low heat light bulbs; ours is from Ikea and cost around 10 dollars. I just checked the site, these are 4 dollars now.
1 Low heat light bulb; I believe the socket came with one but they're around 10 dollars for a pack of 4.
2 Feet or so of wire for hanging, though I used black thread :P
Hook(s) for hanging, however you please

Something to stab holes in paper, an awl would be great, but I used a very small screwdriver
Packing Tape

Step 2: Dismantle Your Cigarette Boxes

This is by far the longest and most tedious step.

Remove the cellophane from the box and recycle it.
Open the top of the box and carefully pull apart the tabs on the sides.
Carefully pull apart the lower (large) tabs on the sides of the box.
Tear out the shiny foil, and recycle it.
Lay the box flat, face down and cut down the lines on both sides where all the tabs are connected. (this will leave the front and back of the original box and remove the sides.) Recycle those tabs.
Lay the box face up and cut on the creases between the front / back pieces and the top / bottom pieces. Recycle those or save them for some other nifty project.
Pull off the piece that is right behind the front of the box (on my boxes, it is the gold piece.) It is glued on, but this glue is not to be trusted! When I constructed my lantern before taping these guys down, I had weird corners sticking out everywhere.
Fold a tape loop to stick these pieces back together.
Place the front face down, and tape the entire back of this piece.
Your deconstructed box parts should look like the last photo. Easy as pie!

Repeat with the other 23 boxes. Is your recycle bin full?

Step 3: Stab Some Holes!

Using your awl or screwdriver, stab a hole about 3/8" in from every corner of every box. This will go much faster than the previous step. (:

Step 4: Time to Put It All Together!

To keep things simple, it worked best for me to start by putting brads in all 4 holes of the box fronts. Since I was using the No. 9 boxes for accents, I went ahead and put 4 brads in all of my No. 9 components.

With the boxes facing upright, assemble 2 front pieces and two back pieces into a diamond shape (see photo.)
If you're using accent boxes, assemble those in your desired pattern. I placed mine on the top left and bottom right positions of my diamonds, to make a sort of candy stripe look.
Continue making diamond shapes until you run out of boxes. You will have 12 diamonds total.

Step 5: Some Assembly Required

Get all of your diamond shapes together in two rows and connect them at the corners. Keep in mind your pattern will overlap from the left to the right. If you're putting all of the front components on top of the back components, you will end up with a sheet that will look exactly like mine.

Step 6: Roll It Up

Carefully take your big sheet of cigarette boxes and roll it into a cylinder. Connect all of the box corners at the seam. You now have a big tube. Yay!

Step 7: Close the Ends

On the ends of your tube, the basic idea is to connect all of the corners.

Take an open corner between two boxes and connect those.
Do this around the circumference.
Flip it over, and do it again.

Your lantern is now a lantern!

Step 8: Hanging Material

Okay, so I'm sorry to say, I constructed this whole thing before I realized it should be my first Instructable and I wasn't taking photos during the process. I did this the hard way and threaded the socket cord all the way through my hanging device, and that cord is now nailed to my ceiling, so I will provide the best description I can.

Take your wire, string, or thread, and cut three lengths slightly larger than the diameter of the opening in the top of the lantern.
Double those guys over, and tie a square knot in each (unless it's wire, of course.) You now have three loops that are about the same size as the radius of the lantern at the top.
Place your three loops around the cord so that they sit above the light socket.
Open three equally spaced brads around the top, place a loop in each brad, and close those guys up again.
Screw in your low heat light bulb.
Congratulations! You've just made your very own cigarette box paper lantern.

Step 9: Final Thoughts

So, I've love to hear what you thought of my first post. The only thing I bought for this project was the box of brads, so if you have any suggestions to make it better, let me know (unless you're going to tell me that hanging it with thread was silly, I already know that.) (: If you go out and make yourself one of these, send me a photo! I'd love to see them.

Oh and a handy hint, if you don't smoke but you think this is cool, four smoker friends can give you 24 empty packs in one week.

Have fun.



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    18 Discussions

    nacho cheeze

    8 years ago on Introduction

    i just thought of doing something crazy with my old cigarette boxes, any ideas besides this lantern?

    JZ Price

    10 years ago on Introduction

    you could change this to be entirely playing cards.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    A friend of mine just showed me a collection he has last night. It is a stack of >100 High school ID cards that he personally lifted from people at his high school. Each one is individual (although there are some repeats), with a name and photo, but also because of how it's been treated. Some have chew marks on them, some have Frankenstein like staple stitching holding them together, some have writing on the back. I've been commissioned to design something with them, and this might be it. Although I also thought that creating something in the shape of a cheesy high school trophy would also be pretty funny.

    1 reply

    With over 100 you could make a larger sphere lantern using a similar pattern, just keep in mind that those ID cards will block a lot of light, so maybe [if you're definitely into a light fixture idea] you could get something to space the cards out, the first thing that comes to mind is a piece of metal in the shape of a plus sign placed between the corners of the cards, but that would have to be on something more square. Let me know what you do, I love to look at everyone's stuff!


    I love this, it would look amazing with marlboro reds (my brand personally) but over here we now have obnoxious anti smoking warning on them that would ruin the look of the lamp somewhat. Maybe a giant one with beer boxes could work for me instead, I'm friendly with bar staff in a lot of places as well so it wouldn't be unreasonable to acquire small posters either. Or I might go raid some of the free art postcard things around the coffee shops in town...

    5 replies

    Hmm I've been planning a few things lately, one of which involves drinking a crate of miller or something else with clear bottles... I like that star idea, it sounds interesting. I'm planning on a big lamp, maybe using green bottles actually, hmm grolsch have pretty bottles...


    10 years ago on Introduction

    And... All those RPG playing cards that you've outgrown (pokemon?) (of course, if you didn't smoke, the money you saved not buying all those cigarettes would buy you a commercially made lamp...)

    1 reply

    10 years ago on Introduction

    A very neat idea! It occurs to me that one could do the same thing with playing cards -- especially if you've got a deck (or two) that's missing a card, because it may be useless as a playing deck, but a great resource for crafty instructibles. The playing cards will probably be more opaque than the cardboard used here.

    1 reply