How MacGyver Does Loy Kratong

You never thought of Loy Kratong as an adventure until you have to make your own kratong with no Kratong supplier around. That’s exactly what I have been doing for the past few years with stuff I have around the house.

Yes, I will be showing you how to make your very own kratong. But that’s much later in this episode of the Oakmonster Show. You’ll have to sit through the history of it first. Haha!

Surely you saw Richard’s blog about his students making their own kratong for the festivity. In my days, so did we.

The standard ingredients for us back then were the colorful paper lotus petals, foam round, a jar of paste, and a strip of metallic paper for the trim. You could get creative as how you’d like to build your kratong with all the petals up, 2 layers of petals, 1 layer up and 1 layer down, alternating the colors…you name it.

When we got to 7th grade, the easy way was replaced by the traditional way. From that point on, we would never see paper petals again. We were taught to make the kratong from scratch, quite literally. Here’s a pile of banana leaves, flowers, and flat bamboo picks to hold things together. The only easy thing we were given was the foam round for foundation instead of fully traditional slice of banana tree trunk. That was when I learned to make the kratong petals, and what a skill to have!

I haven’t done any Loy Kratong since my senior year in high school when I hosted a Loy Kratong exhibit. (What an honor to have a successful event—as in people were genuinely interested—at my school in the white bread Orange County!) When I moved down to Long Beach, a lot closer to the water, I decided to start the tradition with Brandon in 2002.

Actually, I didn’t really decide to start a tradition. It was decided for me when I was on the phone with my dad that night and he asked if we had our own Loy Kratong. It dawned on me then, “Oh, Loy Kratong is tonight??” Oh. Crap!

Scrambling, I rummaged quickly through our apartment for materials. This is what I mean when I said MacGyver style of Loy Kratong. You make a kratong out of whatever you have around the house much like MacGyver saving the world with a paper clip, a shoestring, some duct tape, and some chewing gum.

Wanna see what I came up with? Then go on!


Yes, kids. That is a paper bowl.

I made an itsy bitsy little kratong out of printer paper with a paper bowl for foundation. We went down to the local “beach” area, a water way for the waterfront community to take their boats out to the marina and the ocean. And that has been our tradition ever since…except for 2004 when we were in Thailand and Brandon got to float a real kratong into the real Chao Phraya River. 🙂

Last year, I decided to upgrade and went with foam rounds and colorful construction paper. The result was quite pretty despite my struggle to keep things glued to the foam round. US foam is not the same as Thai foam. It’s a lot more porous and lighter.

And a lot more flammable.

We were watching the candles flickering out in both of our kratongs. That final moment when the candles burned down to the bottom and snuffed themselves out.

Brandon’s kratong suddenly went up in flames. Seconds later, mine did too.

We watched in awe as the 2 small, slow burning balls of flames floated across the waterway towards the residential area inland. We prayed they wouldn’t catch any house’s on fire. And there to answer our prayers was a wayward boat with nice size wake that gobbled up both of our smoldering kratongs.

Never again with the foam!

I think this year we have found the perfect combination to make the best MacGuyver style kratong so far.


Yep. Those are made with paper plates.

Not the kind that flop around, but the sturdy, cardboard-y ones like Chinet. Structural integrity is very crucial to the impromptu kratong making. Your kratong must hold its shape in the water, and the wimpy little paper plate just won’t cut it.

The beautiful, glowing paper plate kratongs floated gently into the night, withstanding a few wakes. The candles burned all the way down and snuffed themselves out.



And now, here is how I make my flaming foam disaster last year. Of course, you can substitute the foundation with paper plate or old plastic Frisbee. Whatever floats your kratong. 😉

You will need: a foam round, white glue, construction paper, and 3 birthday candles. First, cut your petal strips and then fold it in half to mark the center line. Mine here is about 1.5 inch wide and about 6 inch long. You can adjust the size of the petals by adjusting the width of the strip. The length should be long enough that you’ll have something to glue to the foundation.

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Then fold the flap down on each side.

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Then flip the piece over. This is the end of the basic step. You can see in Richard’s post about Loy Kratong in Samut Prakarn. You can fold this piece flat to form the pointy shapes and build your kratong like a crown and with wings. Or you can continue forward and make the petals like mine. To make the petal shape, put glue on one side of the flap.

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Now, cross the other flap over to overlap the glued flap. The paper will pop up to form the petal shape. See here from the glue side and the finished side. Hold the flaps together with your fingers for a bit, allowing the glue to bond. Then set it aside. If the flap keeps coming apart, use paper clip to hold it in place until the glue dries.

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Now, make a whole bunch of the petals. Glue them to your foundation to form a little floating lotus.

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For a finishing touch, cut another strip of paper the width of your foam round and glue it around the bottom of the round. Melt the wax at the end of 3 birthday candles and stick them onto the center of the foundation. And voila!


Bookmark this entry for next year, kids. 😉

Hope your Loy Kratong was fun!!

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