How to Make Exterior Lanterns to Decorate Your Yard

Decorative exterior lanterns can add extra light to your space, which is usually dark at night. You can even make them from recycled materials.
How to Make Exterior Lanterns to Decorate Your Yard

Last update: 15 April, 2020

Would you like to learn how to make some beautiful exterior lanterns to decorate your yard? The lighting in this part of your home is very important. Although natural light is best, it’s good to have other sources of light at night.

Best of all, you don’t need to buy lamps or lanterns from the store. With a little creativity, you can make them at home with recyclable materials. In this article, we’ll give you some interesting ideas. Check them out!

Decorative exterior lanterns: 5 ways to make them

Decorative lights have gotten more popular in recent years. This is because people want to use their gardens and terraces at night. In fact, this spot has become a common social spot for families and friends, especially on special occasions.

Therefore, lots of people have looked for different ways to light up at night and add a decorative touch. Although there are lots of options, some people prefer simple and romantic exterior lanterns. We’ll show you some options below.

1. Handmade tin lanterns

Handmade tin lantern.

To make these beautiful lights, you just need a few tin cans. Ideally, they should be the wider variety, both for lighting and aesthetics. Make sure you clean them well!


  • First, give the cans a little paint job for a better finish.
  • Then, use a template to trace a design on the surface.
  • Next, use nails and a hammer to drill holes in the can around the entire outline. If you can, use a drill to make it faster and easier.
  • Also, make a couple of holes in the bottom if you want a hanging lantern. Once it’s ready, add a rope or wire, and place it wherever you want.
  • Finally, place a candle or small light bulb inside.

2. External lanterns with paper bags

Paper bag lantern hanging.

A disadvantage of paper bag lanterns is that they are more disposable than others. However, it’s a good option to quickly light up on a special occasion. Additionally, they make the environment romantic and beautiful.


  • In fact, you can buy bags of the ones they sell at the store. However, if you prefer, you can make them yourself.
  • To do this, you need some recycled paper bags, sand, scissors, pencils, and some LED lights. Then, draw a design on the surface of the bag with the pencil.
  • Cut it out, but make sure you leave room at the bottom to fill it with sand.
  • Finally, insert the LED candles and place the lantern wherever you’d like.

3. Glass jar lanterns

Lanterns in glass jars.

Another recyclable material that can be very useful when making exterior lanterns are glass jars. This looks elegant and romantic when you add some other designs. Does this idea look good to you? Let’s do it!


  • First, clean the glass jars very well and put a handful of pebbles or gravel inside. If you want, you can also fill them with salt, lentils or any other grain.
  • Then, put a candle inside them, preferably one to get rid of mosquitoes.
  • Finally, you can add different designs: you can paint them, add lace, or tie a ribbon around it. Also, you could use rope to turn them into hanging lanterns.

4. Wooden exterior lanterns

Wooden decorative lantern in a living room.

With some wood scraps, you can make beautiful exterior lanterns. In fact, as it’s so versatile, you can make them in different shapes: squares, rectangles, triangles, and more. It all depends on your creativity.


  • Gather several pieces of wood, with whatever thickness you prefer. In addition, you could even cut a board into several pieces.
  • Then, shape the lantern and attach the pieces with nails or wood glue.
  • Cover the outside of the lantern with fabric or colored paper. However, keep in mind that paper won’t last as long.
  • Finally, add a candle or light bulb.

5. Exterior lanterns made from fishbowls

Exterior lanterns from glass fishbowls.

Do you want more elegant and original lanterns? Then don’t hesitate to try out this idea with glass fishbowls. Due to their shape and size, they’re perfect to add more light to certain areas of the garden.


  • Decorate the surface of the fishbowls however you like.
  • Then, add small stones, gravel, salt or any other small element inside.
  • Finally, place a candle on the inside and place it in its new home.

If you think your yard or terrace is very dark at night, try out some of these beautiful exterior lanterns. As you can see, they are easy to make, and add a very special touch to these spaces.

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