Sure, you may have set out traditional luminarias—small paper bags weighted with sand with lit votive candles—at Christmastime, especially if you live in the Southwest. But with a little imagination, you can dress them up for Halloween, too! Place these fun lanterns in the shadows along your front walk, porch or deck at night, and you'll find these decorative little lanterns suddenly give new meaning to "mood lighting!"

Have no fear—our versions won't cost you an arm and a leg. These luminarias use castoffs and other readily available materials. They're simple enough for kids to make, and to keep things safe, we use battery-operated candles or Christmas tree lights instead of open flames.



Materials Needed:

  • Containers: Wide-mouth glass jars, plastic soft drink or water bottles (2-liter and smaller), milk cartons
  • Papers: Lightweight craft paper, copy paper, construction paper, paper twist, tissue paper, decorative papers and so forth
  • Ties: Raffia; orange and black ribbons
  • Light sources: Battery-operated candles or white Christmas lights
  • Scissors, utility knife
  • Tape
  • Glue stick
  • Sand
  • Optional: Plastic spiders, netting, highlighting markers…be creative!




  1. Remove labels and carefully cut plastic bottles or milk cartons below the neck to a variety of heights.
  2. Wrap paper around each container, so it's even at the bottom and several inches past the top edge. Tape the back. You can color in "eyes" with a highlighting marker for an extra-spooky effect, or fringe the top.
  3. Wrap ribbon or raffia around bottle and tie a bow or knot; add spiders, netting or other accents.
  4. Weight with sand to keep the luminarias upright and from blowing around the neighborhood.
  5. Position a battery-operated candle or Christmas lights in the center of each bottle. If using Christmas lights, cut an X through the back (both the paper and the container) of each luminaria with a utility knife and push the bulb through.








Downloadable Patterns


Print off these spooky patterns, then cut out and tape onto your paper used for the luminaria. Color in the cat's eyes with a highlighting marker.



Cat (PDF) >



Boo (PDF) >






More Halloween Crafts >