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These simple lanterns — also known as farolitos — were popularized in the desert Southwest and are the perfect walkway illumination and party decoration for holiday festivities. Customize the design of your luminarias by using creative stamps, hole punches, or other design elements that will add beauty and interest to your arrangement, then recycle the bags when you’re done.

  1. Decorate each paper lunch bag, then unfold and open it. Trim or fold the top to make them more stable.
  2. Pour about 2 cups of sand or pea gravel into each bag.
  3. Nestle a tea-light candle into the sand or gravel of each bag. Place the bags in your display area — typically along walkways, driveways, stairways, a mantel, or table top — where there is no danger of fire.
  4. Use a long-reach lighter or match to light each candle.

Design Tips

  • Use preprinted theme or colored bags — for example, orange and black for Halloween, green for St. Patrick’s Day, or red for Christmas.
  • Limit the size of your design elements to 1 1/2 inches or less to maintain the bag’s structure.
  • Stamp, stencil, draw designs, or write on the bag while it’s still flat.

Enjoy this fun, interactive graphic. Click on the image to be taken to a new page. Then, hover over of the numbers in the graphic to learn more about how to make a luminaria.


Photography by: John Mowers

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