How to Make Patriotic String Lights for the Fourth of July

Oh say can you see – the patriotic lighting at your next Fourth of July gathering. These red, white and blue globes made of yarn are so fun to assemble, the whole family will want to join in. Besides being festive string light covers, these yarn globes make great garlands, or can simply be displayed in a bowl as a table decoration.

Things You'll Need

  • Red, white and blue yarn
  • 5" balloons
  • Glue
  • Water
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Wire
  • String lights
Yarn String Lights
Yarn String Lights (Image: Jonathan Fong)

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Making the Yarn Globes

Step 1

Inflate balloons so they are about four inches in diameter, and tie a knot securely at the opening. Purchase 5-inch balloons at a party store, as this smaller size will result in a more rounded, spherical shape instead of an elliptical shape.

Inflate the balloons
Inflate the balloons (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 2

Rub petroleum jelly on the surface of the inflated balloons. The jelly will help prevent the yarn from sticking to the balloons.

Cover the balloons with petroleum jelly
Cover the balloons with petroleum jelly (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 3

Mix two parts glue to one part water in a shallow pan. Regular white household glue is all you need. Do not worry about measuring the glue and water exactly. Just estimate the amounts, as putting glue in a measuring cup can get very messy. Keep stirring the glue mixture until the consistency is smooth and even.

Mix the glue and water
Mix the glue and water (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 4

Wrap the yarn around your fingers several times, being careful not to get it tangled. It is best to start with this small amount. The more yarn you use, the more likely it will tangle.

Cut off a piece of yarn
Cut off a piece of yarn (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 5

Soak the yarn in the glue mixture, using your fingers to make sure that the glue is penetrating all the fibers. Keep the yarn in a loop so it does not tangle.

Soak the yarn in the glue mixture
Soak the yarn in the glue mixture (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 6

Tie one end of the yarn loosely around the knot at the top of the balloon, and then start winding the yarn around the balloon. Have the yarn criss cross in different directions. When you reach the end of the yarn loop, tuck the end under another piece of yarn. Then rub the entire surface with more of the glue mixture to make sure the yarn is completely saturated. (Now this is what we call red, white and glue!)

Wrap the yarn around the balloon
Wrap the yarn around the balloon (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 7

You can also layer several colors of yarn on the same balloon to make red, white and blue globes. Just use less of each color so the amount of yarn used is the same as for the single color globes.

Multi-colored yarn balls
Multi-colored yarn balls (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 8

Tie a string between two chair backs to create a drying line for the yarn globes, and place plenty of old newspapers underneath to catch drips. Clip the ends of the balloons to the string with clothes pins, and allow to dry a full 48 hours.

Hang to dry
Hang to dry (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 9

After 48 hours, the balloons will have deflated a bit. Pop the balloons, and remove them from the yarn globes.

Remove the balloons
Remove the balloons (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Step 10

Find an opening in the globes just large enough to insert the bulbs of your string lights, and secure the globes with a piece of wire so they don't fall off. Alternate the colors of the yarn globes. When you're done, get ready for the oohs and ahhs – and that's even before the fireworks.

Insert string lights in the globes
Insert string lights in the globes (Image: Jonathan Fong)

Tips & Warnings

  • Never leave lights that are turned on unattended.
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