How to Make a Tin Can Luminaria

Luminarias, with their warm glow and candlelight, are an attractive lighting accent for home parties and outdoor walks. Normally crafted using a paper bag, they lack a certain element of fire safety. Crafting luminarias (open top lanterns) from tin cans is a much safer alternative that continues to cast an attractive light to your walkway, garden or outdoor party. Use the same process to make rustic candle holders as well.

To make a luminaria from a tin can, gather a few supplies. You will need several cans, washed with the labels peeled. You will also need something to punch holes with. An awl, hammer and nails (varying sizes can be used), or church key (triangular can opener used to open juice cans) all work well. Cork screws and drills are a couple of other tools that work.

The process is simple, just be careful of sharp edges. If sharp edges are in the way, use a file to remove them. Poke holes through the tin can in any design; make random dots of light or something more elaborate. For Halloween projects, make jack-o-lantern faces or ghosts from nail holes. Let the artist in you go and create flowers, trees…anything you can think of. Using a church key, cut in triangles to make decorative edges along the top and bottom of the can.

After you have decorated your luminaria, place them around the yard or lining walkways. Make a handle of wire if you like for hanging, but use caution when you place them, and keep candles away from leaves and tree branches. Hanging lanterns from shepherd’s hooks or plant hangers may be a better idea.

Put candles inside the luminarias and light them. Tea light candles work well, especially those that come in metal wrappers (now available in larger sizes to extend burn time). Votives candles or citronella candles are also good options, and the citronella will help deter bugs in warm weather. Tin luminarias can be used inside or as centerpieces on tables, as long as care is taken. To be safe, candles should be placed in glass holders to keep the metal from getting too hot and burning surfaces.

Tin can luminarias cast a welcoming glow while providing a little light for parties in the yard and along walkways for entering guests or trick or treaters. Use the pretty rustic accents as an alternative to their more unsafe cousin.

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