Make Your Own Holiday Luminaries

Luminaries are great for providing just a little touch of lighted decorations for your celebration. They are easy to make, using just a few things you have around the house.

You can use just about any clear jar to make your luminary. I have upcycled spice jars, peanut butter jars, spaghetti sauce jars, and many more. I prefer plastic. With plastic jars I don’t have to worry about children or pets knocking them off a handrail or table.

Removing the labels from your jar can be a challenge. Different companies use different adhesives. I have the most success using vegetable shortening or olive oil. If the label does not come off when I wash the jar in hot, soapy water, after the jar dries I slather vegetable shortening on it.

I usually set the jar aside and ignore it for a day or so. This allows the shortening time to loosen the adhesive. If the label doesn’t come off, I turn to olive oil and repeat the process. Many of the products sold specifically to remove adhesives have strong chemical. Some are kerosene based. If possible, I try to avoid these extra strong products. I save them for large projects.

Decorating your clean jar can be as simple as using holiday napkins or tissue paper, or as complex as gluing beaded trim, rickrack, or photos. For my Independence Day luminary, I chose red, white, and blue trim from a holiday napkin.

Apply craft glue to the decorated area. Gently apply the trim. For an extra special look, cover the entire jar with craft glue then sprinkle Epson Salt liberally. This will give a frosted appearance and will mask minor mistakes in decorating. Seal the decorations with a couple coats of clear spray craft acrylic.

Using traditional wax and flame tea lights can be dangerous and is not suitable for plastic containers. Find battery powered tea lights at craft shops or deep discount stores. If your container is deep, such as an upcycled parmesan cheese jar, use tongs to set the light inside. Putting a little sand, dried beans, or rice in the bottom will help provide a little weight if your luminary tends to blow over easily.

Creating upcycled luminaries from empty jars and containers is a fun and frugal way to decorate for any event. It is a great idea for Vacation Bible School, summer camps, or a weekend craft project with the kids.

Robin’s Upcycle is located in Kanawha County, WV. Open by appointment. Phone 304-460-5NEW (5639). For info, visit

From the July 2015 edition of Two-Lane Livin