Summer Lantern DIY

Lanterns are the perfect way to get mood lighting outside without wires. There are so many cozy outdoor living areas and they all have one thing in common – lighting. Lanterns can also work indoors for a festive holiday table.

using lanterns indoors

I am so happy to be hosting a Creative Craft Blog hop today along with Chloe from Celebrate & Decorate. Be sure to check out the all the other great crafts at the bottom of this post for more ideas.

creative craft blog hop

If you’ve got lanterns, here’s a fun way to make them look shiny and new with a unique twist. They don’t have to be new. You can recycle old rusty ones with this lantern DIY craft.

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to use a home-made stencil to transform your lantern into a star spangled light.

supplies needed to make a summer lantern

To make your festive star-studded lantern you will need these supplies.

  • Lanterns – You can transform old or new lanterns. If they are new you can just paint the stencil. Mine were thrifted and dirty.
  • Spray Paint
  • Cardboard – I like to paint on cardboard and I used cardboard for my stencil
  • Candles – Faux or real
  • Box cutter – To cut the star stencil
  • LED faux candles (optional)

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I love to use the LED lights inside the lanterns because they don’t make a mess and they look so real.

How to Make Your Own Stencil

You can buy stencils online, but they are surprisingly easy to make with cardboard. I chose stars because they could work for July 4 and Christmas. If you don’t have a lot of room to store holiday decor, double duty is the way to go.

You can make your own stencil of any shape. For example, you could do a four leaf clover, hearts, flowers or anything you can think of. A easy to cut because there are all straight lines.

  1. Find a pattern you can use to trace the outline of your shape onto a piece of cardboard.
  2. Lay your pattern over a thin piece of cardboard or other stiff backing. You could also use a manila folder. You want something a little more hefty than just paper.
  3. Trace over the pattern with a pen, pushing down to make an impression on the cardboard.
  4. Remove the pattern and use a cutter to cut along your traced lines. I used a box cutter, but you could use an X-Acto knife. You might have to cut each line multiple times. Be sure to cut on top of a surface that you can’t damage.

How to Update a Lantern

The lanterns I found were green and pretty dirty. If the lanterns you get are all metal they are easy to spray paint and they are like new again.

The first step with any painting project is to clean whatever it is you are about to paint and let it dry.

Most lanterns have removable glass inside. If your lanterns don’t, this would require lots of taping to make sure you don’t paint the glass. I removed the glass panels and set them aside. Then I went to work spray painting the metal. Be sure to spray inside and out.

Let your lanterns dry before you try to put the glass back inside.

The final step is to paint your stencil onto the glass. Stencils work really great with spray paint if you DON’T want really clean lines. This was the look I was going for. You just place the cardboard over the glass and spray.

Once your glass is dry, it’s time to put it back inside the lantern.

Using Lanterns Inside and Out

Lanterns can be used for table decorations both inside and out. They can even make a cute centerpiece like this one.

I love to use them because I don’t have a lot of outdoor lighting. The faux flicker candles are the best invention since sliced bread. I remember when I first saw them at Pottery Barn. Theirs look so real because they have wax on the outside. I found less expensive knock off candles on Amazon.

Now it’s time to get more craft ideas. If you are following along your next stop is Cecilia at My Thrift Store Addiction. She’ll be showing us how to make a rosy posy.

Celebrate And Decorate | Design Morsels (this stop) | My Thrift Store Addiction 

Home Is Where The Boat Is | Purple Hues And Me | Sustain My Craft Habit  

Chas’ Crazy Creations | Bluesky At Home | Raggedy Bits | Decorate & More with Tip  B4s and Afters

The Painted Apron | Birdz of a Feather | Debbees Buzz  

My Hubbard Home | Zucchini Sisters  | White Arrows Home

festive star lantern

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  1. A great star-spangled makeover for your lantern Andrea! They lend such a nice ambiance at night during the summer months. Thanks so much for your organizing efforts for this hop, I’m happy to be crafting with you today. ♥

  2. These are so pretty; the stencil is a great addition! I really must make some of these for our outdoor space. We don’t have outdoor lighting either.

  3. Such a cute idea Andrea! I agree lanterns bring so much ambiance to outdoor areas, and it’s fun to decorate them and change them up! Thanks so much for hosting our craft hop!

  4. What a lovely transformation, Andrea! And a great idea to use handmade stencils to decorate the glass panes. You’ve given me lots of wonderful ideas and inspirations for decorating my lanterns! Thank you so much for helping to organize this fun craft blog hop! I’m really enjoying it all!

  5. Andrea this is such a cute idea. I love lanterns and would love doing something like this on one of mine. It can be used for all the holidays even Christmas. Love it!

  6. Andrea, I love lanterns too but have never thought of stenciling the glass. I’ve never thought of making a stencil with cardboard. The stars are a great idea. Thank you for hosting.

  7. Andrea this is SO FUN!!!! I love it so much and want one – I even have a lantern. Thanks for sharing and lovely crafting with you!

  8. I saw these on your table and was wondering how you painted them! Such an easy project! I sure love all of these “faux candles”, too! I was wondering the other day how many house fires don’t happen since these came into existence, that would have! Thank you again for all of your help! Now that I have “birthed” my two new babies, it is time to get back to whatever the new normal is!

  9. This is a darling craft, Andrea, I don’t have a lot of outside lighting either, and am always looking for ways to add some to the front and back porch. Thanks for the inspiration!

  10. Andrea, your patriotic DIY really elevates a simple lantern! Thanks for helping to organize another fun craft hop! Blessings, Cecilia @My Thrift Store Addiction

  11. Andrea, a great update and refresh of your lantern. Love your choice of the stars, a nice patriotic touch for summer.

  12. Hi Andrea,
    I didn’t realize that it was so easy to get the glass out of a lantern. Thanks for the tip!


  13. Gorgeous! The stars really add a magical touch to those lanterns and makes it look extra special lit up at night.

  14. Andrea,
    I was looking for a Patriotic DIY to add to my Sunday, Dirt Road Adventures. I’d love to share this tutorial with a link back to your blog if possible. I hope that’s ok

    1. Rachel,

      I would love that. Thank you so much for asking. Let me know if you need any images.


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