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DIY luminaries shed light on Halloween

Better Homes and Gardens suggests drilling gourds and pumpkins with holes, then inserting battery-operated votives. (Associated Press)
Better Homes and Gardens suggests drilling gourds and pumpkins with holes, then inserting battery-operated votives. (Associated Press)
Jennifer Forker Associated Press

This Halloween, lighten things up with luminaries. There are lots of quick, do-it-yourself projects to make the flickering lights that welcome partiers or trick-or-treaters.

Besides their welcoming glow, luminaries can add sophistication or fun to a sidewalk, staircase, fireplace mantel or front stoop, says Eddie Ross, East Coast design editor for Better Homes and Gardens. And you can make them from a variety of everyday objects, from milk jugs to glass jars to paper bags.

Ross has a slew of illuminating ideas at, and there are more at and other websites.

Just insert one or more battery-operated votives or a string of 25 holiday lights into any of these DIY projects:


• Drill holes any size into a real or fabricated gourd or pumpkin. Use patterns or lines, or try monogramming your initial. For a pumpkin, cut an access hole at the bottom and clean out the goo from there. Ross recommends using a white or sugar pumpkin. The latter are used for baking; grocery stores sell them.

• Drizzle fake blood down the outside of a clear-glass cylinder, then wrap it with parchment paper and secure with double-stick tape. “It looks like something you see when you’re putting slides under a microscope,” says Ross. “It’s sophisticated and pretty but creepy, too.”

• Remove labels from empty steel cans and punch holes in them with an awl and hammer, either randomly or with a design.

• From the blog Making Lemonade: Wrap a glass vase in vellum or freezer paper, both of which are translucent; cut the paper to fit the vase. Add stickers to the unpatterned side of the vellum or the waxy side of the freezer paper, then rewrap and tape the paper – sticker side on the inside – to the vase with clear tape. ( diy-halloween-decor-witch-luminaries)


• Decoupage the outside of any glass jar in orange tissue paper and add a pumpkin face using whatever is on hand – a permanent black marker, stickers or googly eyes.

• For a mummy look, wrap a glass jar with gauze bandages and glue on two googly eyes, or wrap black-paper facial features beneath vellum or masking tape for a similar look.

• Using an orange paper bag (similar in size to paper lunch bags and available at most discount stores), cut out a pumpkin face from one side. Insert a smaller yellow or white paper bag with the votives inside.

• From the blog Family Corner: Paint the outside of a glass jar with white acrylic paint, let it dry completely, and then draw on a ghostly face using a permanent black marker. Fill it in using black acrylic paint. Use different base colors – orange, red, green, purple – to create monsters.

( family-2/ghost-luminaries.html)

• From iSaveAtoZ blog: Rinse several gallon-size plastic milk jugs. Cut a small opening near the bottom of each jug for inserting individual strings of white holiday lights, or connect three or four jugs with one long string of lights. On a flat, clean side of each jug, draw a ghost face. ( craft-ideas-milk-jug-ghosts)

• Take discount-store glow sticks to a party-supplies store and ask the clerk to insert them into yellow or white balloons before inflating the balloons with helium. Or buy a small helium tank; they range from $40 to $50 at party stores. Use a permanent black marker to draw spooky faces on the balloons. Stop there or go one step further and cover each balloon with cheesecloth. “It will make them glow,” says Ross, who recommends lining a sidewalk or front porch with these.

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