How to Make Candle Lanterns

Updated May 21, 2018
Make your own unique lanterns

Hand-crafted candle lanterns are easy to make at home using common objects and supplies like paper, plastic containers, glass jars, or picture frames. It's best to use LED candles with these projects to avoid the risk of fires.

Lace Curtain Table Lantern

If you want to add some drama, interest, and a glow to your dining or patio table, this triangle table lantern is the perfect project. You'll need to set aside a few hours to complete the lantern as you have to wait for paint and glue to dry. Make a few with different size picture frames and different colored laces to create a unique tablescape.

Personal photo by writer Michele Meleen (Shields)
Finished Lace Curtain Table Lantern

What You Need:

  • Three 5 by 7 wooden picture frames
  • Acrylic paint and brush
  • Wood glue
  • Lace
  • Scissors
  • Two LED tea light candles
  • Staple gun


  1. Remove the backing and glass from all three picture frames.
  2. Remove the glass-holding tabs from two of the picture frames.
  3. Paint all sides of each frame. Allow to dry completely.
  4. Replace the glass in the third frame, securing it in place with the tabs or staples if needed.
  5. Cut out two 5 by 7 pieces of lace.
  6. For each of the non-tab frames, staple the lace in place where the glass normally sits.
  7. Lay the third frame face down (glass insert side up) and put a strip of glue down the edge of each long side of the frame.
  8. Set each of the other two frames in an A-frame shape (interiors facing each other) on top of the third frame, making sure the bottom edge of frames one and two are sitting in the glue lines on frame three. You should end up with what looks like an A-frame house.
  9. Glue frames one and two together at the top where they form a peak.
  10. If needed, secure the frames while drying by placing a tall, heavy object (like a canned good) next to the long sides of the structure to help keep frames one and two from sliding out of the glue.
    Lace Table Lantern Steps 8 through 10
    Lace Table Lantern Steps 8 through 10
  11. Allow to dry completely.
  12. Place the candles atop the glass bottom of your lantern and set on the desired surface.

Starry Night Pinhole Hanging Lantern

Recycle old plastic yogurt cups to create a stunning light show using a pinhole design and inspiration from Van Gogh's Starry Night painting. When you hang the lantern in the dark, light shining through the holes produces a pattern on the floor and ceiling for a spectacular look.

Finished Starry Night Hanging Lantern
Finished Starry Night Hanging Lantern

What You Need:

  • Two round yogurt cups, rinsed and dried
  • A small screwdriver
  • White or hot glue
  • Black, blue, and yellow acrylic paints
  • A small paint brush and round sponge brush
  • Thread
  • Two LED tea light candles


  1. Paint the outside of the yogurt container blue by sponging paint on generously. Allow to dry.
  2. Paint the inside of each yogurt container black using the brush. Allow to dry.
  3. Swirl yellow paint around the outside of the yogurt containers using a small paint brush. Allow to dry.
  4. Use the screwdriver to poke small holes all around the sides of each container.
  5. Glue the bottoms of the containers together and stand up on one container's mouth to dry.
  6. Wrap the thread around where the container bottoms meet and tie in a tight knot, leaving a long string hanging from each end.
  7. Tie the loose ends of the thread together to form a loop.
    Starry Night Lantern Steps 6 and 7
    Starry Night Lantern Steps 6 and 7
  8. Place one candle in each container and hang.

This can be a fun project to do with kids, especially if they are learning about Van Gogh in school.

Decorate Your Home or Garden

Candle lanterns bring a warm glowing light to any space, indoors or out. When creating a DIY lantern, look for sturdy materials and use your creativity to imagine fun ways to play with light.

How to Make Candle Lanterns