Outdoor luminaries add a stylish element to any outdoor gathering and are easy to make using paper lunch bags. Depending on the theme of the event you are hosting, you can use regular brown paper lunch bags or you can add some zing with colored lunch bags which are available in most craft stores. Outdoor luminaries made from white paper lunch bags add simple elegance to any gathering, but whichever you color you choose, you and your guests will enjoy your homemade outdoor lighting arrangement during the event.

Things You Will Need

Paper lunch bags

Votive candles


Extra-long matches or handheld barbeque lighter

Step 1

Count the number of outdoor luminaries needed. Plan to place the outdoor luminaries three to four feet apart.

Step 2

Obtain the same quantity of votive candles as paper lunch bags and enough sand to put two to three cups of sand in each paper bag.

Step 3

Fold down one inch of the top edge of each paper lunch bag to keep the bags stable while you pour in the sand.

Step 4

Pour approximately two to three cups of sand into each paper lunch bag.

Step 5

Arrange the paper lunch bags with sand in the outdoor area you would like to illuminate.

Step 6

Place one votive candle in the center of the sand inside each paper lunch bag.

Step 7

Light each candle with extra-long wooden matches or a handheld barbeque lighter.


Tips & Warnings


Don't light the candles in your outdoor luminaries too early. Light them no earlier than dusk to get the most enjoyment from the luminaries.

Buy high quality votive candles that last longer so that you don't have to replace or relight the candles during your event.


Paper bag luminaries should only be used outside and at a safe distance from anything flammable, in the event that one tips over and catches fire.

Avoid using paper bag luminaries in windy conditions to avoid bags tipping and catching fire.

Use extra-long matches or a handheld lighter with a long tip instead of regular small matches to avoid burning your hand while you light the votive candles inside the paper bags.