DIY Ice Lanterns With Candles
ice lantern
(Image credit: Rehan Nel)

Winter is around the corner and while gardeners may mourn the loss of the growing season, garden crafts can brighten the night. This year try making homemade ice luminaries to decorate and light up porches, decks, garden beds, and walkways. It’s a simple, festive way to make the most of the cold season.

What are Garden Ice Luminaries?

Think of these as ice lanterns. A luminary is traditionally a paper lantern, often simply a candle set in a paper bag. The most common use of luminaries is to celebrate Christmas. Many people, and often entire towns or neighborhoods, set out lines of luminaries on one night, such as Christmas Eve.

The tradition is thought to have begun in New Mexico, but it has spread throughout the U.S. Some people now use luminaries to decorate for other holidays, like Halloween, or throughout the winter.

How to Make Ice Luminaries

Ice luminaries DIY projects are easier than you think, and the results are spectacular. A paper bag luminary is traditional and easy, but an ice lantern adds an extra special glow. You can even use plants from your garden to decorate them. Follow these steps to make an ice luminary and use your own creative ideas along the way:

  • Find plastic containers of different sizes such as buckets, cups, or empty yogurt containers. One should be able to fit inside the other with a half-inch (1 cm.) or more of space. Also, the smaller container should be wide enough to fit a tea light candle or LED.
  • Place the small container inside the large one and fill the space between them with water. It helps to put something in the smaller container to weigh it down a little. Try coins or pebbles. Find some pretty materials from the garden, like twigs with red berries, evergreen twigs, or fall leaves. Arrange them in the water. Place the containers in the freezer until solid.
  • To remove the containers from the ice, set them in a dish of room temperature water. After a couple minutes you should be able to slide the containers apart. You’ll be left with a solid ice luminary.
  •  Place a tea light in the luminary. An LED is best to avoid melting the luminary. Set it on a flat stone in the bottom of the luminary to keep it dry.
Mary Ellen Ellis

Mary Ellen Ellis has been gardening for over 20 years. With degrees in Chemistry and Biology, Mary Ellen's specialties are flowers, native plants, and herbs.