Luminary Crafts

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Creating gourd luminaries is a process similar to making Halloween jack o'lanterns.
Creating gourd luminaries is a process similar to making Halloween jack o'lanterns.

Luminaries add a festive touch to any holiday or special occasion décor. You can create your own glowing lanterns from a variety of materials – paper bags, jars, tin cans, dried gourds and water balloons. Use your homemade luminaries to line the walkway to your front door on Halloween or Christmas Eve, or incorporate them into an outdoor wedding celebration.

  1. Holiday Paper Bag Luminaries

    • Paper bags are available in many colors, so they can add a color-coordinated touch to any holiday celebration. Use black or orange bags to create Halloween luminaries, red or green bags for Christmas or white and red bags for Valentine’s Day. Paper bags can be left intact or stenciled with images that coordinate with the theme of your celebration. Cut out the shape of snowflakes, stars, jack o’lanterns, witches or hearts to decorate your holiday luminaries. Stabilize the bags by placing a few handfuls of sand or cat litter in the bottom of each one. Then add a candle for a festive, nighttime glow.

    Jar and Tin Can Luminaries

    • With a small hammer and a nail, punch random holes in a tin can, or create a pattern with the holes that you poke through. You can also simulate this “tin can” look without needing a hammer or nails. Poke a similar pattern of holes into a piece of aluminum foil using a ball point pen. Wrap the decorated foil around a jar and secure the foil with tape. Once you have holes in your can or jar, place a votive or pillar candle – whichever fits -- in the bottom. These luminaries can also be hung from trees or hooks by adding a piece of wire to the containers’ tops to create lanterns.

    Gourd Luminaries

    • Place fresh gourds in a place that is warm to allow them to dry out. This may take a few months, depending on the size of your gourds. You’ll know that your gourds are ready for transformation into luminaries when the skin on their surfaces is dry and papery. Soak and peel this skin to remove it. Once the cleaned exteriors are dry, paint them to suit the theme of the celebration for which you’ll use them. Clean out the painted gourds in the way you would a pumpkin at Halloween. Decorate each gourd by cutting holes in its exterior in the design you prefer and add a votive candle.

    Water Balloon Luminaries

    • Creating these luminaries will require a stove, a double boiler and some paraffin wax. Melt the wax in the top part of the double boiler above boiling water, keeping the wax at about 180 degrees. One at a time, dip water-filled balloons into the wax a few times, covering the balloon with melted wax. Don’t dip the balloons past the water level to keep them from popping. Once the balloons have been dipped, place them on a sheet of wax paper to dry, allowing them to settle into a shape with a flat bottom. When cool, carefully pop the balloons and drain off the water. You will be left with frosty-looking luminary candle holders.

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  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

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