13 DIY Lanterns to Illuminate Your Porch, Patio, or Garden

When the weather gets warm, outdoor living heats up, and porches and patios become the place to be. As your sunny days shift to balmy nights, add some atmosphere to your garden and yard with lanterns. Whether you want to make one lantern for a dining table, or a whole string of lanterns for the deck railing, there is a DIY lantern design to suit your style. Fanciful and frivolous, or simply elegant, lanterns don't require much time or money to make, and they delightfully elevate the ambience of your outdoor spaces. Take a cue from one of these great DIY lantern ideas, and bask in the glow of gleaming light this evening.

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  1. Tin Cans


    Even a small supply of empty tin cans is just steps away from becoming a collection of DIY lanterns. Mark out a design with ink, and then fill the can with water and freeze it—the ice will give the can support during the next step. Punch the design out with an awl or metal punch. Spray it with paint or leave it plain, and your lantern will give you a starry starry night, no matter what the weather.


  2. Glowing Orbs


    Bring together some thrift store globe shades and old Christmas lights for a knockout look in your garden. Stuff the lights inside the shade, and then plug them in. Use an outdoor-rated extension cord, of course, then kick back to enjoy the atmosphere.


  3. Wine Bottle Torch


    If you are plagued by mosquitoes on your patio, put together DIY tiki torches using recycled wine bottles and a few supplies from a hardware store. Open flames create wonderful ambience, and they keep bugs at bay.

    Related: How To Turn Wine Bottles into Romantic Lanterns


  4. Paper Bags


    Create beautiful luminaries with items that you probably already have in the house. Cut or punch designs into a lunch bag, then place a heaping cup of sand, rice, or beans inside. Set a votive candle inside, and light! The process is so simple and safe, even kids can take part in this project. Line a walkway, porch, or table with them for affordable and charming outdoor decor.


  5. Doilies and Candles


    Bring some old-world romance to your garden party. Spray a lace doily with adhesive and place it onto a clean glass jar. Wrap the rim with burlap, ribbon, or twine. With a lit tea light or votive candle inside, it's utterly enchanting.


  6. Mason Jars


    Put together these pretty luminaries in a quick minute. Pour Epsom salt into a mason jar and set a votive candle inside. The salt looks especially festive and snowy in winter, but these make a delightful display any time of year.


  7. Full of Color


    Cast a kaleidoscope of color around your outdoor space. Cut brightly colored tissue paper into small shapes and decoupage them onto a glass jar. If you don’t already have decoupage medium, a 50/50 solution of water and white glue will work just as well. Insert your favorite candle, and enjoy the colorful glow.


  8. String Light Lampshades


    Make a summer night magical with a string of hanging lanterns. Cut the covers and flower petals from colored paper, and attach them together with tape and brads. Place one lantern on each bulb of a string of lights, then settle in under their blooming glow.


  9. Paper Lanterns


    Coffee filters + hot-glue gun + paper lantern = Gorgeousness. That’s all that is required for these ethereal puffs of shining beauty—well, that and the time to do all that gluing. And maybe some coffee. But whatever your level of DIY prowess, you can make these.


  10. Twine


    Twine lanterns add pops of crafty—but sophisticated—flair to any outdoor setting. Wrap glue-soaked twine around a balloon and let it dry. Pop the balloon and spray-paint the twine sphere. Add a hanging lamp cord, and you have webbed lighting fit for a home design magazine.


  11. Glow Sticks


    Although any lantern can light up the night, those powered by glow sticks are especially fanciful. Creating your own glow in a dark lantern is as easy as 1-2-3. Snap a glow stick, cut it open, and shake it into a jar. Screw on the top and enjoy the glow. These lanterns can last up to a week, depending on the strength of the chemicals and the temperature outside.


  12. Stocking Stuffers


    These lights appear otherworldly hanging from the branches of a tree, but their composition might surprise you. Re-create this magical look by emptying the contents of a snapped glow stick into a water-filled balloon and then slipping each glowing orb into a stocking. 


  13. Birthday Hat String Lights


    Repurpose birthday hats to create a string of lanterns for your porch, patio, or garden. Cut the tip of the cone, punch holes through the base, and let the string lights shine through for an everyday celebration.


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