By: Melissa A. Kay
Sure, you can go out and purchase beautiful lanterns at your favorite home goods store, but making a lantern yourself is so much more rewarding and special. They make great gifts, too!
Tip: Remember, safety is key, so always use LED or flameless tea candles, small battery-operated lights or even mini-flashlights in your lantern, and never leave them unattended near small children or pets.
1. Tin Cans
You can put those old coffee cans or cans of veggies, beans or soup to new use by turning them into lovely lanterns.
Old tin cans
Wire or sting (optional)
- Remove all the paper labels and stickers and thoroughly clean and dry your tin can
- Fill the can to the top with water and freeze until fully solid. This way, you can poke holes to allow the light to shine through into the can without denting it
- Use a hammer and nails or a chisel to bang holes into the can. Be sure you are on a steady surface when you are making the holes. You can space them randomly or create a decorative pattern
- Punch out two holes on either side of the top of the can so you can add a wire or hefty string to hang the lantern if you choose to once it’s complete
- Defrost the can and empty all the water out to dry
- Place your light source into the bottom of the can and your lantern is ready to display
2. Repurposed Mason Jars
Mason jars are great for turning into lanterns. You can buy them or use one you may have already from something you’ve purchased at the market. You won’t believe how gorgeous these simple jars can become.
Decorative paper or doilies
- Clean and thoroughly dry your mason jar before you begin
- Cut out pieces of print paper, news print, doilies or other thin decorative paper to line the inside of the jar
- With a long paintbrush or sponge, line the inside of the jar with a decoupage medium. This will allow the paper to stick as well as protect the paper from the light source
- Stick small cutouts of the paper onto the decoupage medium and smooth out so there are no wrinkles or bubbles
- When you are done decorating, paint a layer of the decoupage medium on the exposed side of the paper to create a seal. Don’t worry, it will all dry clear
- Once the jar is totally dry, place your light source at the bottom and display on a windowsill, shelf or tabletop to admire
3. Paper Bag
You can use something as simple as a paper bag to make a luminous lantern. Remember, no actual candles or flames should ever be used in a paper bag, only flameless LEDs or a tiny, flat, round flashlight is appropriate for the paper bag lantern.
Choose a paper bag in any color you like. You can punch holes into the bag into a shape of choice, such as a sunburst, a heart or initials. The bag will look even more special if you use a puncher with a shape to the punch itself, like a diamond, flower or star.
Tip: You can also use a stencil to create small shapes and cut them out from the bag.
Once you are satisfied with the design, place your light source into the bottom of the bag, dim the lights, and let your lantern set the mood for a peaceful evening.
Which lantern will you try first? Share your thoughts in the comments below!