DIY Ping Pong Ball Lights

3 Materials
$7
20 Minutes
Easy

After we built a pergola over our concrete patio, I was excited to decorate with fun patio lights. Call me cheap, but I was a little surprised by the price. Since I already had strings of lights in my Christmas decoration box {I'm sure you do, too} that are approved for outdoor use, I set about finding a way to use them instead.
diy ping pong ball lights, lighting, outdoor living, repurposing upcycling

To start, I bought a bag of 144 ping pong balls from Amazon for $7.
diy ping pong ball lights, lighting, outdoor living, repurposing upcycling

I cut an "X" in each ball with an X-ACTO knife and pushed the bulb through the hole.
diy ping pong ball lights, lighting, outdoor living, repurposing upcycling

My sweet dog, Kona, "supervised." :)
diy ping pong ball lights, lighting, outdoor living, repurposing upcycling

The bulbs are not in contact with the ping pong ball - they are completely inside the ball.
diy ping pong ball lights, lighting, outdoor living, repurposing upcycling

That's it! It took me less than an episode of Paw Patrol to have my string of lights ready.

I have to admit the first day I put them up, I thought they were a little tacky. My friend confirmed my fear, too: they looked like ping pong balls during the day.
diy ping pong ball lights, lighting, outdoor living, repurposing upcycling

BUT I gave them a chance and that night when I turned them on, they were perfection! Bright, beautiful and fun!
diy ping pong ball lights, lighting, outdoor living, repurposing upcycling

I used one string to drape 100 lights along our pergola and opted for the multi-colored ones for fun and festivity {white lights would work just as well}. I couldn't be happier if I had spent the money to get the real deal. Instead, I am satisfied to have used what I already had on hand with a small investment on ping pong balls to get the same warm glow.

So if ambience and festivity are what you want without a hefty price tag, then DIY Ping Pong Ball Lights are the way to go! -- v.


UPDATE: I’ve had my string of ping pong ball lights up for over a year and I still love the ambience they create. They’re up year-round so some of the balls blew away in storms and a few bulbs burnt out. Both were easy replacements.

The only ‘problem’ I’ve had was that rain water would get trapped inside them. It would eventually evaporate, however a fellow Hometalk reader recently provided a terrific solution that I am including as a smart improvement to this DIY project: add a pinhole to the bottom of each ball to allow rain to drain. Such an easy fix!

To ensure proper alignment, cut your X along the seam as described above, then stick a sharp needle or straight pin through the ball along the seam on the opposite side.

If you like easy DIY projects like this, please click on the link below and visit the blog. Sign up for the newsletter and don't miss another project!

Suggested materials:

  • Bag of 144 ping pong balls  (http://amzn.to/1Uw0B5K)
  • String of multi-colored lights  (http://amzn.to/1YdNTy7)
  • X-acto knife  (http://amzn.to/1OcGmNO)
Vernichel // created by v.

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

11 questions
  • Sno4539289
    on Jun 12, 2016

    Did they get hot and melt the ping pong ball?

    • Collier Austin
      on Jun 12, 2016

      I've never seen Christmas lights melt anything.

    • Susan Rogers Garton
      on Jun 12, 2016

      Think about it we string Christmas lights all over fake, plastic trees. That being said I would treat it the same way I do a Christmas tree, never leave it on when your away from home. Hope that helps. 😉

    • There are hot and cold Christmas lights. Read the boxes they come in. Some will have the warning that they will damage or cause a fire if used close to objects that can melt. Those are not supposed to be used near a flammable material. To be on the safe side, if there is no warning or directions on use, don't use them for a project where they touch another object. The reason I know this is, I burned my tree using the hot ones. 😦 Melted my candy canes in with the plastic pine needles. Cool ones will work great like for her idea. I want to do it now!

    • Patty
      on Jun 12, 2016

      Awesome idea!

    • Hb
      on Jun 12, 2016

      use LED xmas lights they do not get hot

    • Sno4539289
      on Jun 12, 2016

      Thanks going to try this looks fun

    • Janice Walker
      on Jun 12, 2016

      Led lights do not get hot😊

    • Janice Walker
      on Jun 12, 2016

      This would be pretty for Halloween using purple led lights. I read that someone used tulle to wrap on the cord, I think.

    • Jay3735295
      on Jun 12, 2016

      I was going to suggest LED lights too they dont get hot

    • Tammy Sea
      on Jun 12, 2016

      She clearly stated that the lights do NOT touch the balls...

    • Nancy
      on Jun 12, 2016

      This is a great idea. Think I'll be using!

    • Tawny
      on Jun 12, 2016

      I wonder if you could paint the ping pong balls and then add the lights so they looked less "tacky" during the day.

    • Linda burns
      on Jun 12, 2016

      What color would be (not tacky) on the pp-balls? I'm intrigued.

    • Annie Doherty
      on Jun 12, 2016

      I like these, they are fun and cost effective and look great thank you.

    • Jody thomas
      on Jun 12, 2016

      very cute idea :)

    • Jan Faucon Grebner
      on Jun 12, 2016

      love this - and so what if they look "tacky" by day; you have them at your patio area and it's your yard... i made a chandelier for my pergola out of a light fixture and solar lights and though my husband makes big sport of it, i love it.

    • Rachelle
      on Jun 12, 2016

      Fabulous! I have a couple of chandeliers hanging from branches in my garden but haven't worked out the lighting part. Have you got a photo of your chandelier with the lights you could post? I am ready to do it!! ")

    • Jennie Lee
      on Jun 12, 2016

      Glitter, caulk, or paint would all keep the light from shining through. A hole punched in the ball opposite where the bulb goes in should allow rain to drain out. Notice how Vernichel put the bulb hole where the seam in the ball is. Doing this will both make the lights look more uniform, it would also make it easier to put the drain hole exactly opposite the bulb, which makes it most likely to be at the bottom of the ball. Good idea, Vernichel!

    • Georgia Robinson
      on Jun 13, 2016

      If you decide to paint the balls, maybe use watered down colors, or possibly watered down colored glue. Then maybe it wouldn't just look like a dark ball.

    • Jan Faucon Grebner
      on Jun 13, 2016

      Rachelle I just found solar lights I liked, I had a 5-light "chandelier" I bought at a vintage market for $5; gave it a fresh coat of "brushed nickel" spray paint to match the solar lights I purchased, then glued the lights into where the sockets were. I can't remember if I removed the screw in sockets or not. I can take a pic tonight after work but saw your post and didn't know if could find you later. It doesn't stay lite all night but I love it hanging from the pergola and will sway in the wind.

    • The lights I have do not get hot. They are a string of Christmas lights that are approved for indoor/outdoor use. Plus, the bulbs are pushed all the way inside so they are not touching the ping pong balls. Unlike Christmas lights, however, I do not leave them on when we are not using them. And I don't even mind the "tacky" daytime look anymore!

    • Sheila D
      on Jun 13, 2016

      If someone wanted to color the balls that might block the light, could use diluted food color or Kool Aid-like we do for Easter eggs

  • Clou77
    on Jun 12, 2016

    I'm decorating for a wedding with a Christmas theme (colors gold, white, green, red). I'm wondering if you have, or anyone of the readers, have done the ping pong balls over clear lights? Since it's an evening wedding, will they be to tacky? I'm wondering which area would look best with them. The wedding will be 80-90 people.

    • Becky Vaughn
      on Jun 12, 2016

      I would think you could use a garland of sorts to wrap the wire. The balls would be nested in it. You could even add gold glitter to the balls to decorate them so they looked different in daylight

    • Penny
      on Jun 12, 2016

      I agree with Becky. Glue some glitter to the ping pong balls and you could attach some ribbon or tulle in between the lights.

      diy ping pong ball lights, lighting, outdoor living, repurposing upcycling, Tulle with string of lights
    • Sherri Taylor
      on Jun 12, 2016

      Get spray glitter.

    • Bob3958569
      on Jun 12, 2016

      ...but the glitter might show up as dark spots on the ping pong balls at night when the lights come on....no?

    • Skr1487015
      on Jun 12, 2016

      I was at a wedding in an expensive venue that wrapped white tulle loosely around the white lights. It was beautiful. But no ping pong balls.

    • Linda B
      on Jun 12, 2016

      For our wedding, I personally had white lights with loads of white tulle around and on a trellis behind the cake/refreshment table and up on the ceiling. It was so beautiful! You can use your Christmas lights and save the tulle for other occasions.

    • Mrs6849841
      on Jun 13, 2016

      If you can find them, get white lights with white strings instead of green if you're using it with tulle...green will show....that's what I did for my daughter's wedding.

    • Clou77
      on Jun 13, 2016

      All awesome comments to help with the wedding suggestion! Thank you all for taking the time to help me out. I'm not a professional wedding coordinator but have been hired to design Christmas decor and displays, MOST will be DYI. I'm a) on a budget for supplies, and b) on time restraint- tic toc - wedding in a month, haven't even got anything farther than on paper do to the bride not making decisions. Eek. :)

    • I agree with Mrscrowe6 that it would blend well with white strings and clear lights. In the evening, the ping pong balls will make the clear lights resemble white globe lights. Good luck on your planning and prep! Sounds like fun!

    • Clou77
      on Jun 13, 2016

      Thank you! I'll post whichever way I take this project. :)

  • Kathy Haines Cramer
    on Jun 12, 2016

    Nice!!! Did you add a hole at the bottom for any rain to drip out? I wanted to do these quite a while ago. But with the price, locally, for the ping pong balls, it was better to just buy the lights. I have NO idea why I didn't check Amazon. Hahahaha

    • Kathy Bothast
      on Jun 12, 2016

      Ping pong balls can be gotten as low as 6 for $1.00. I got mine at Sav-a-Lot grocery. Maybe Dollar Tree?

    • Marilyn Zaruba
      on Jun 12, 2016

      Kathy H.C. is right...my DIL did something similar and even though her lights were entirely under the roof, water still blew into them and filled some of them up so a hole is a great idea. It turned out to be a moot point with DIL's gazebo....a severe Texas windstorm totally destroyed the whole setup including her expensive chandelier.

    • Kathy Lovenburg
      on Jun 12, 2016

      If there is an issue with water seeping into the ball, then use silicone caulk to seal the light/ball 😉

    • BobC
      on Jun 12, 2016

      You can buy 144 ping pong balls for $7-8.00 on ebay.

    • Berniece Cronquist
      on Jun 12, 2016

      A little hole might be better. If you silicone the top how do you replace the light bulb.

    • Tsi6911433
      on Jun 13, 2016

      Maybe both?!

    • Pam
      on Jun 13, 2016

      Kathy Bothast, buying 6 ping pong balls for a $1.00 would be $.17 each while buying 144 for $7 would be only $.05 each. A savings of $.12 each!!

    • Companye
      on Jun 13, 2016

      I think a hole in the bottom if the ball is a great idea!! Use a hot needle to make a clean hole.. These are sooo cute!!

    • Corrine
      on Jun 13, 2016

      Silicone caulk may work, but be a pain when you would have to change the light bulb....Try a pin hole or 2 in the bottoms

    • A pin hole in the bottom is a great upgrade! I did not do it with my string and some of the balls filled with rain water. I left my string up all year, so the water eventually evaporated, but a pin hole is a much better solution. And the price on Amazon went down from when I made mine... they are now less than $6 for a bag of 144!

    • Dtr6483190
      on Jun 14, 2016

      I want to do this for my camper!

    • Lin6577430
      on Jun 19, 2016

      If all else fails, just change the ping pong ball, bound to have spares..

  • Kimberley J. Knight
    on Jun 12, 2016

    Where can you buy a bag of ping pong balls? I can only find pkgs of two

  • Ann
    on Jun 12, 2016

    What kind of dog is Kona?

  • Gail Burrows
    on Jun 13, 2016

    where do you get a big bag of ping pong balls?

    • Deana Boatwright Brown
      on Jun 13, 2016

      @Gail Burrows Amazon.com is where she said she ordered hers.

    • @Gail Burrows I ordered this bag of 144 ping pong balls from Amazon (http://amzn.to/1Uw0B5K). They are now less than $6.

    • Read, read...! Bag of ping pong balls on Amazon...!!! Geez....

    • Janet Backe
      on Jun 19, 2016

      These lights are cool. Just for fun: My husband was a trucker for a few years and delivered a 53 foot trailer full to the top with loose ping pong balls. When he arrived at customer, they had him back down a ramp, and open his doors. He had backed into a building with sloped floor. All the balls eventually pooled together. They used ping pong balls to ship electronics over seas. Better protection than foam peanuts, etc. Yeah Amazon!

    • Wow, I would have liked to have seen that, Janet! The amazing uses of ping pong balls...lol

  • Debbie Stokes Cotter
    on Jun 18, 2016

    What about when it rains? Don't the ball fill with water? Could maybe put pin holes in the bottom? (I am just so darned practical!)

    • Jessica Serrano-Gregg
      on Jun 18, 2016

      That's an interesting question so what I would do is take a silicone sealer and seal the lights in since you're probably not going to take them off once they are done. I found a silicone waterproof sealer made by gorilla glue at Home Depot. It comes in a smaller tube with precision point. So just a small bead around the light socket then spread it around the "x" to seal them up. Viola! It will make them watertight and they won't fall off. That's just what I'd do to keep water from ruining the lights too as you don't want lights soaking in water either!

    • Susan Jackson
      on Jun 19, 2016

      How is one going to change a burned out bulb once they are sealed?

    • Miguel
      on Jun 19, 2016

      Just drill a small hole in tue oposite side an water will drain.

    • Jessica Serrano-Gregg
      on Jun 19, 2016

      Silicone can be picked off with your fingernail. That's why I recommend silicone, not super glue. So it's super easy to remove yet remains watertight. Hope that helps!

    • Jessica Serrano-Gregg
      on Jun 19, 2016

      Sorry, I'll explain better, I should have said that's it's super easy to remove that you could even use your bare hands but even a pair of tweezers to grab it, then it just peels off with virtually in one piece. I love using the silicone because it bonds but yet if I make a mistake on a project, I can just peel it off and start over! Hope that helps explain that better? Lol

    • A pin hole in the bottom is a great upgrade! I did not do it with my string and some of the balls filled with rain water. I left my string up all year, so the water eventually evaporated, but a pin hole is a much better solution. I put my "X" at the seam, so a pin hole on the seam on the opposite side would allow for drainage.

  • Jack
    on Jun 20, 2016

    Do they ever get overheated and catch fire?

    • No, the set of Christmas lights I use do not get hot. Also the bulbs are completely inside the balls so they are not touching. LED lights stay cool as well, if you're worried. I don't leave them on all night either -- just when we're outside using them.

  • Sheila
    on Jul 16, 2016

    So glad I clicked on this!! Fabulous, inexpensive idea! I have tons of string lights collecting dust! Many thanks for your creativity and frugalness!!

  • K.
    on Apr 15, 2017

    how did you get the different color of lights?

    • Julie
      on Apr 16, 2017

      colored Christmas lights?..or....guess you could softly spray paint

    • I used multi-colored lights -- aren't they fun?! White lights are great for a warm glow, too!

  • Deb Byrd
    on Aug 15, 2017

    I wonder is you could spray balls with some kind of snow or pop corn ceiling spray and put on Christmas tree?

    • I think anything on the outside of the ball (i.e., paint, glitter) will affect the lighting. That said, give it a try on a few and see how you like it. As another idea, I've seen ping pong balls wrapped in fabric and made into a garland for the tree. Keep the creativity going, Deb!

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4 of 186 comments
  • Verna Cote Chaney
    on Aug 14, 2017

    These would look good directly on the Christmas tree too!! Awesome idea. thanks for sharing.

  • Nellie 'Rice' Samms
    on Aug 15, 2017

    Thank you for posting this. We have this done with actual christmas lights purchased after christmas very, very cheap. However, we had issues with a couple of sets not working. Now I know how to create my own sets! I do agree that our backyard looks like ping pong haven - however, it's lovely at night. I only use clear. I do like the colour as well. May try that at some point. again thanks for posting! Perfectly creative!

    • Thrifty and crafty with the perfect effect at night. I'm a fan, and I'm happy to hear you are, too, Nellie! Thanks for sharing your experience!

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