Holiday Outdoor Luminaries

Holiday Outdoor Luminaries

Holiday outdoor luminaries are a fun, easy decorative item to add to your list of decorations that can light the way for you or visitors to your home.

You can buy them pre-made online or make them yourself with a few items.

This article will explore the various holidays throughout the year in The United States with suggested tips on how to use outdoor luminaries at each holiday.

The same ideas can be incorporated for those countries outside of the United States utilizing your own holidays.

Each luminary uses a brown paper bag, white paper bag or colored paper bag most widely used as a lunch bag, stencils, sand and a tea light candle.

Quart sized jars can also be used instead of paper bags if a sturdier surface is required for more windy areas and votive candles can also be used instead of the tea light candle and may burn longer.

Outdoor luminaries also consider the solar lights and electric lights that are used outdoors to light a path.

To Use an Outdoor Luminary:

Open the paper lunch bag, fill at least 1/3 full with sand or fine gravel. Place a tea light in the center of the sand or gravel and light the candle. The candle glow will illuminate the stencil design on the front and help to guide the way of a dark sidewalk, driveway or front porch.

Always use safety with outdoor luminaries to be sure they are sturdy enough to avoid being blown by the wind and keep all other potential fire hazards away from the burning flame.

Re-use outdoor luminaries by removing the candles, keeping the sand in an airtight container and folding the paper bags for future use.

Ideas for Holiday Outdoor Luminaries

New Year's Day

Find a stencil that is appropriate for the New Year's celebration such as balloons, champagne glass or use the year as a cut out for the stencil. Put several of the brown paper bags together to cut out several at once to speed up the process of making your own outdoor luminaries.

Valentine's Day Outdoor Luminaries

Use a heart stencil and trace it along the middle area of the white paper bag. Place two or three of the bags together and carefully cut out the stencil. Other stencils you could use for Valentine's Day include a cupid, a bow and arrow, the words l-o-v-e or v-a-l-e-n-t-i-e-'- d-a-y. The candle light will flicker and glow to show off your stenciled artwork.

Memorial Day

The US flag is the primary symbol for Memorial Day and you could use several star stencils in assorted sizes on a red or white paper bag for this outdoor luminary. To get even more creative add one large star and cut out several stripes to signify the flag. Artists could make their own stencil by drawing an eagle that would look amazing with the flickering light of the tea light candle.

Create Holiday Outdoor Luminaries

Fourth of July

Use the same suggested idea for Memorial Day for the Fourth of July outdoor luminary.

Labor Day

This holiday celebrates the working American so to create a holiday luminary, try to use the USA flag idea with stars and stripes, or find a stencil that depicts a laborer. Many online stores offer creative stencils that are easier than creating one.

Veterans Day

The USA celebrates many holidays that showcase the American Flag and Bald Eagle. Use these as stencils or if you've already made the star outdoor luminary, you'll be able to use them over and over again as long as they haven't been burned from the tea light candle.

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving is the holiday celebrated bounty, blessings and abundance. Buy or create a stencil of a pumpkin, turkey, pilgrim, fruit or fall leaves on a brown or orange paper bag.


There are many stencils that could be used for these holiday outdoor luminaries such as a star, a pine tree, angel, holly, Santa, a sleigh, a reindeer, snowflakes, a church, toys or Santa's toy sack. For the very creative, create a winter snow scene on your outdoor luminaries that will help to line the sidewalk and provide a guiding path for all visitors coming to your home. Use a red paper bag as the background for the scene that will be visible even in winter snow.

More ideas for using outdoor luminaries:

New Year's Eve

Buy or create a stencil for the outdoor luminaries that depict the date of the New Year, balloons, a champagne glass or get creative with a fireworks scene.

Use your holiday outdoor luminaries for additional holidays such as President's Day, Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day or April Fools Day.

Outdoor luminaries can be reused over and over again provided they have not burned and should last for years with proper care and storage.