Festive Luminaries

Luminaries are beautiful! You can make them easily out of paper bags or tin cans. For the outdoors, fill a brown paper lunch bag half way with sand and place a small votive in the sand.

Voila! I think it would be best if you used some sort of flame retardant on the bag first even if the typical craft how-to's don't include that step. As far as I know linseed oil is a natural flame retardant. It is added to the mix of papier-mache/concrete used as insulation in "green" buildings.

luminaries made from wire mesh

jingle bells, jingle bells…jingle all the way

I think I might try that myself this winter. Because I live in an area that tends to be windy in the winter, I'm going to muse on the idea of using dollar store mini flashlights inserted in something to create a safer luminary.

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Making Festive Tin Can Luminaries
presented by Stephanie Hansen

Add some sparkle to your Christmas festivities by making luminaries. Hang them in trees or line walkways and decks to set a party atmosphere.


Tin cans
Spray paint
Towel Tea lights


1. Rinse your tin cans out and remove the label.
2. Fill the cans with water, about 1 inch from the top, and freeze them for at least 24 hours. This enables you to punch holes in the cans without denting them. While freezing, the bottoms of the cans may bulge.
3. Set the tin cans on their sides on a towel to protect your work surface from melting ice.
4. Carefully punch a design onto one side of the can using a nail and hammer. The larger the nail you use, the more light will shine through your design. Simple star and geometric designs are easy and perfect for any party. If you want to get more elaborate, you can sketch a design on a piece of paper, tape it to the can, and punch accordingly.
5. After you've completed your design, let the cans melt in the sink or run warm water over them until you can remove the ice. After they've drained, simply tap the bottoms back into place with your hammer if they bulged during freezing.
6. Let the cans dry completely.
7. Spray paint your luminaries in a well-ventilated area using spray paint. Choose one or more colours that will match your party theme and décor.
8. Insert a tea light candle and set them on the ground or hang them from tree branches or porch umbrellas. To make a hanging luminary, simply punch two holes on either side of the top of the can and insert a small wire, winding it around each opening. A small amount of sand in the bottom of the can helps prevent it from being knocked over or blown around in a tree.

A more expensive luminary can be made from handpressed or exotic papers you fashion into a paper bag yourself (but you'd really have to have a bit of money you don't mind throwing away). I saw some wonderful luminaries made from white vellum bags filled with salt instead of sand. I think I might try that myself this winter.

I really like the idea of burning a candle for someone in particular. Can you imagine a message of hope lighting your front walkway in the “peace toward all” season? Your neighbours will bless you for the smile and good feelings in engenders.

presented by Stephanie Hansen - Worth Works