Recycled luminaries are actually a great year-round craft. You can make them spooky for Halloween or use pretty patterns to lighten up a birthday picnic table. They’re especially nice during winter holiday celebrations though both indoors and out on the porch. I like how this person below, hung their luminaries in the window. Nice.
- Empty tin cans of any size – peel the paper off and clean them exceptionally well. If you’re using a large can with a design, say a coffee can, you can paint it, but wait until after you poke your holes.
- Nails of various sizes. The bigger the nail the easier this project is. However, you can make various designs with a good selection of different sized nails.
- A hammer
- Candles – I suggest safer, LED candle lights, rather than actual candles. Especially use LED tea lights if you’re planning on covering your luminary with vellum.
- Optional items include – paint, vellum paper, glue, and glitter
Make your luminaries:
- If the top edges of your cans are sharp or jagged, file them down with a metal file stick.
- Fill your cans with water and pop them in the freezer.
- While your water freezes decide on what sort of design you’d like to make. Your child can draw a simple design on paper, or you can look for some templates in a book or online. One thing that works great for luminary templates are those old craft and crochet books you see at thrift stores. There are usually some nice flower, snowflakes and vintage looking patterns in these books.
- Once your water is frozen pull out one can at a time and tape your design onto the can. One thing I found out last year is that the paper can slip, thus making your design look funky. To get around this issue, take a sharp permanent marker, and poke through your design onto the can, then remove the paper and punch the black dots.
- Grab your nails and hammer and hit the dots along your pattern design. The ice keeps the can from bending.
- After your design is hammered into your can, allow the ice to melt, and dry your luminary.
Extra nice options:
Homemade luminaries look perfectly great when left plain, but you can also decorate them. You can paint on a light coat of glue and sprinkle your luminary with glitter. You can cover your luminary with vellum paper – an effect that looks really glowing and nice. If you paint or cover your can too thickly, you may need to go back over your design and re-punch out some holes (with just a nail).
If you’re having a holiday dinner party you can aim for an elegant design like vines of holly flowers or tiny stars. For kids, basic snowflakes or a tree are fun designs. You can also make festive holiday luminaries with recycled glass jars – if you’re trying to avoid cans due to BPA.
Bonus – extra holiday crafts:
- AMAZING recycled mod house ornaments
- Recycled tin can Santa
- Make organic dough and make ornaments
- Recycled cereal box houses – think holiday scenes or gingerbread houses!
- Really adorable recycled Christmas card ornaments
- Cinnamon-Apple Wreath
Photo © Flickr user Elin B