DIY Handmade Luminaries ~ How Does Your Garden Glow?

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Handmade Luminaries ~ Not Just for Holidays

Luminaries are beautiful, lighting the way along a driveway at Christmas, or set around a yard for an evening summer gathering.  But why wait for a special occasion?  My family always made them out of paper bags, with the top folded down and sand in the bottom to hold the candle, but these, made out of aluminum cans that were headed for recycling, stand up to weather and last a long time if taken care of.

The Trick Behind Good Luminaries

The first mistake of luminaries is trying to pound the holes in an empty can.  All you do is beat up the can and get irritated.  Simply fill the cans with water and freeze them!  The ice maintains the can shape and you can easily put your design in the can, then let the ice melt in the sink.  You’ll have a perfect luminary every time that you can use outside or in for a beautiful, candle lit evening.

Materials for Luminaries

Luminaries Materials

Aluminum cans, clean and free of any sharp edges

Make Spirits Bright with

Permanent marker, any color easily seen on the cans


Freezer space



Clear Coat Spray Paint

Votive or tea light candles


Directions for Luminaries

With the marker, put dots for your design on the cans, remembering to leave enough space between them so you don’t punch out the whole design.

Fill the cans with water and freeze overnight.

Very carefully brace the first can in a towel on a flat surface to keep it steady.  Place your nail on the top-most dot and with the hammer pound it in so that it breaks the surface of the can, punching a hole.  Don’t drive it too deep, as it will stick and then you have to wait for the can to thaw.

Continue pounding holes, going from top to bottom.

When your pattern is done, run warm water over the outside of the can and empty the ice.  Let the can dry.

When the can is completely dry, spray a layer of clear coat, inside and out, as per the instructions on the can of paint.  Let the can dry completely before igniting a candle inside.

You can place sand or kitty litter in the bottom of your can to give it weight and keep it from tipping, if you like.


Handmade Luminaries Make Great Gifts

I love putting out handmade luminaries in my gardens when I have people over for backyard parties.  Make a few up and take them as a hostess gift to the next party you attend, complete with some tealight candles for them!  You can even paint the outside with spray paint to match deck furniture or other decorations!

Make some luminaries this spring and make your garden and yard come alive all year!


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  1. Denise Hecht says:

    Great idea thank you so much for sharing

  2. Kayla Coleman says:

    I think this is a great idea!! Gonna have to try it out!

  3. vanessa d. says:

    TY For the info!

  4. These turned out great and I love they are made from repurposed cans.

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