I love twinkly white lights and how they add a festive sparkle to the night-inside or out! This project for DIY upcycled party lanterns is great for adding a glow to the dark winter nights. And when spring arrives they’ll move onto the patio!
We always keep dry roasted peanuts on hand as snacks-so it doesn’t take long to accumulate empty containers. That’s when we decided there had to be a better use for them. Upcycling the plastic containers is a great way to save them from going into the recycling bin! And these easy to make lanterns are the result.
They’re so inexpensive to make-here’s a list of the supplies you will need.
I waited until I had 5 empty containers before making the lanterns, as it’s easy to make several at a time. Just make sure the containers are clean and dry.
The first step is to paint the lids inside and out with black spray paint and let them dry. If you prefer to use a color or metallic finish any spray paint will work!
Next, poke holes in the plastic for the handles. They need to be large enough for the gauge of wire you’ll be using. I had 16 gauge steel galvanized wire on hand so I used it to make the handles-a roll of 25 ft was about $2 at the hardware store. Lay the container on its side on a work surface. The method shown here uses an ice pick to poke holes through the plastic about 1/2 inch from the bottom. Poke the ice pick all the way though the container so there will be a hole on the opposite side. The lanterns won’t be balanced if the holes aren’t centered.
If the second hole has a rough edge where the ice pick poked through it, trim it or sand it a bit to smooth it off. If you’d rather use an Exacto knife or another tool to make the holes that would work too!
Next, make the handles by cutting about 14 inch lengths of wire. Bend the wire into a U shaped handles as shown on the finished lanterns. Using needle nose pliers, make a small u-turn hook on each end of the wire to insert into the holes as shown in the example on the right. If the hook is too tight you won’t be able to insert it easily when your lantern is finished. It’s a good idea to experiment with one handle and make sure it can be inserted into the holes before you make all of them. Set the finished handles aside.
The next step is to decide how you’d like to decorate your finished lanterns. I used round Dollar Store garage sale stickers for my polka dot lanterns and Frogtape for the stripes. The taped areas will act as a mask and be clear after you’ve painted the lanterns with the Frosted Glass spray. Any type of sticker you can peel off will work so there’s no limit to what you can use, from hearts and snowflakes to stars!
I used different sized rubber bands to create thin stripes- I did find that the edges won’t be crisp if the bands aren’t totally flat. The thicker rubber bands worked better-lesson learned!
The rubber band design left more frosted area on the lantern which is something to keep in mind depending on what type of lights you’re going to use. If you’re using mini LED lights with a battery pack the frosted areas will better disguise the battery packs at the bottom. The battery tea light candles option looks pretty glowing through the clear areas as well as the frosted.
When you have your designs in place the next step is to spray the lanterns with Frosted Glass spray. Make sure you follow the instructions on the can and allow the paint to dry-the frost look appeared in ten minutes.
When it’s dry you’re ready for the fun part! Remove the stickers and peel away the Frogtape and your lanterns are almost finished!
Insert the handles into the holes and add the LED battery lights or battery candles. They will sit inside the lid when you screw it on.
Your upcycled twinkly party lights are ready to hang or they can sit on a table as part of a centerpiece.
If you’re planning a party or wedding and need multiple lanterns or table decorations this is a great option as they’re so inexpensive! For Christmas, feature them on a table with evergreens and red, silver and gold ribbons for a lovely holiday table. And switch to red and pinks for Valentines Day!
For spring and summer the lanterns look pretty hanging from shepherd’s hooks in your garden. Or create party magic by making lots of twinkly lanterns and hanging them from tree branches for an outdoor party.
The lanterns would add a warm glow to rustic style wedding table centerpieces. Combined with natural textures and your favorite flowers the lanterns would be a lovely handmade touch.
And since they’re so inexpensive to make, multiple lanterns both hanging and on tables would give your setting a sparkle and a twinkly ambience. Battery candles are available at the Dollar Store and I always look for LED minis at post-Christmas clearance prices. Ask your friends and family to save containers for you-a good reason to enjoy peanuts!
If you own a stencil cutter like a Cricut or Silhouette, you could personalize the lanterns with a wedding monogram or design. Friends could take home a lovely memory of your wedding and the lanterns could add a sparkle to future celebrations!
If you’d like to view another project using upcycled materials-check out my easy to make candleholders post! Something borrowed-something new!