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Summer Luminaria

Updated on July 31, 2009

We all love to sit outside in the twilight on summer evenings, enjoying a cool breeze that wafts away the day's heat. We eat our dinners under the stars, enjoying the cool of the evening.

Why not make your patio or deck even more enjoyable, and yes, even festive - by adding some fun novel lighting? Luminaria - little glowing lanterns you can easily make - are the answer.

Paper bag luminaria - simple and festive patio lights.
Paper bag luminaria - simple and festive patio lights.

There are several ways to make luminaria, but these are the simplest. I first saw them lining the walk into a restaurant that overlooked the city of Quito. Their gentle light marked the pathway, lighting up the luxuriant tropical foliage in the borders.

How to Make Paper Bag Luminaria

Use recycled brown paper lunch bags for your luminaria. Fold the top down all around to strengthen it, and to help hold the bag open. Put about 2 inches of clean sand or kitty litter into the bag. This will anchor the bag in place, as well as keep your light stable.

Then place a tea light firmly into the sand or litter. The little ones that come in their own foil cups are what I use - much safer than candles or votive lights that can overturn.

Then place your new luminaria where you'd like them and carefully light the candle. Need I say that they should be kept away from where children or pets can knock them down, or used at all if you have a windy site.

Making a Wedding Luminaria

Indoor or Outdoor Luminaria

You can also make luminaria that you can use both indoors or out. The shade can be made from any interesting translucent paper that is fairly sturdy. You can find some beautiful ones at craft stores, or art supply stores. Or, if you make your own paper - show that off!

Use a shallow clean can as the base - one of the smaller ones that cat food comes in is the right size. Put a tealight in the center of the can and anchor it with a drop or two of wax. It's easier to do this before you add the shade, but it can be done later.

Measure the can's circumference, and cut a piece of your paper that is 12 inches high and as wide as the circumference plus 1/2 inch of overlap.

Apply double backed tape to one of the edges. Wrap the paper around the can until it fits snugly. Carefully attach the tape to the other edge of the paper. You should now have a cylindrical luminaria, with the can as the base. If you haven't already place the tealight inside, do it now.

Place the luminarium where you want it and light the candle - Voila - a gently glowing cylinder of warm light!

These can be used outdoors, as the centerpiece on your patio table. They look great surrounded by flowers. You can also use them indoors - on the mantle, as a table centerpiece (how about a grouping of several?)


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    • Ivorwen profile image


      9 years ago from Hither and Yonder

      What a fun project! They look so pretty and don't require much for storage.


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