Outdoor Winter Lanterns

12 Materials
2 Days

I love the look of lanterns in outdoor decorating, but the cost to buy them can get quite pricey, and most do not come with lights and I of course wanted both. I decided to make my own, lights and all. The cost , $12.00 to make two lanterns I can use year round in my outdoor decor!

outdoor winter lanterns

So I needed to figure out what I was going to make my lanterns out of. Strolling Habitat for Humanity I found 1 inch trim in 6 ft lengths and knew they would be perfect for what I wanted to do. I ended up needing four to complete two lanterns and instead of glass on the sides I opted to use the fencing you will see why at the end of the post.

outdoor winter lanterns

Using a miter box and saw cut your trim into 12 inch pieces. You will need 16 in total to do two lanterns. Next cut 4 inch pieces out of the trim again 16 in total. These will be used to make your sides of your lanterns. Next using a scrap piece of plywood I had left over I cut two pieces measuring 6 1/4 x 5 1/2. These will be used as your base. Using white exterior paint , paint all pieces on both sides.

outdoor winter lanterns

Taking two 4 inch pieces and two twelve inch pieces place down and make a frame. Using a staple gun staple all the pieces together to secure. Flip over and staple that side also. Repeat this step to make 8 frames in total.

outdoor winter lanterns

Now it is time to add your fencing. You can use chicken wire also for this step. I used what I had on hand. Taking wire cutter or pliers cut your fencing/ chicken wire to fit over the opening of the frame. You will need 8 in total. Once cut, using your staple gun secure fencing to your frame. Repeat this step to complete all frames.

outdoor winter lanterns

Here is your sides completed. You can paint over your staples once your lantern is finished so they are not visible.

outdoor winter lanterns

Now it is time to start putting the lantern together. I used 3/4 inch finishing nails to attach my 3 sides together.

outdoor winter lanterns

Next you are going to add your base. It will fit inside your 3 frames you put together. Using finishing nails nail your frames to your base. (You will notice that it is painted green on the inside. You can leave it white or paint it green. I chose to paint it green as I will be adding greenery once completed and did not want the white showing thru) This is a personal preference. You do not have to do this step.

outdoor winter lanterns

My next step was to take a small vase I purchased at Dollar tree and 2 inch floral foam. Putting the vase upside down I cut around the vase and hollowed out the circle about 1/4 inch. Repeat this step once more.

outdoor winter lanterns

Using a glue gun secure foam onto bottom of your base.

outdoor winter lanterns

Now you are going to make the top for your lantern. Using the plywood cut two pieces 8 1/4 x 7 1/ 4. Taking an inch off the measurements cut two more pieces Then a final piece measuring 4 inches by 3 1/2. Using wood glue you are going to place all three pieces on top of each other. Biggest being on the bottom, followed by the next biggest to the smallest on top. Make sure to center them. Once glue has dried and all pieces secured paint with your white paint. Take a cup hook and screw into the top of the smallest piece to finish off. You will need two of these.

outdoor winter lanterns

Now it is time to secure the last of your frames. So using your finishing nails, nail into the base and the two sides that is already together. Once finished you are going to take battery operated lights and put them into the vase that is upside down. These lights are on timers so I turned them on at the time I want them to come on . Put them in the vase and put back upside down into the foam. Once completed you will now secure your lid or top for your lantern. I used 4 small 3/4 inch screws to attach each lid to the lantern. At this point your lantern is finished. Now for the final touches. Using boughs of various pine and cedar starting at the bottom I added them to the lantern pushing the ends into the foam, doing all four sides. I continued adding boughs until I was happy with the look. I had fake berries, and pine cones I added in to complete the look. Repeat this step with the other lantern.

outdoor winter lanterns

Here it is finished. I am so happy with how this turned out. It was a challenging project for me as I have never done anything like this before. I had a vision of what I wanted and this is it. The great thing is this can be used year round just changing the boughs to flowers in the spring and summer and leaves in the fall.

outdoor winter lanterns

Here they are lit up at night.

Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page. More info

Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Elana Gerson
    on Dec 3, 2018

    Looks beautiful!! Thanks for sharing. How are you going to change out the lights when they burn out? I'm wondering if there may be a way to easily hinge the lid...

    • Jewellmartin
      on Dec 3, 2018

      I think the hinged closures you can buy in craft depts. for jewelry boxes would be strong enough. They don’t open easily. In fact, I don’t put locks on the boxes because the hinges are good “doorknobs”. They cost about $1-2. Best wishes! ☺️

  • Sharon McCurry Poteet
    on Dec 3, 2018

    If you glued the bottom upside down on the foam how do you put the lights in? Or is the foam not glued to the lantern bottom

    • Dka27519972
      on Dec 6, 2018

      I don't think the vase is glued into the foam. It is upside down where the lip of the vase is just pushed into the foam after the lights were put in.

Join the conversation

2 of 80 comments
  • Rose Broadway
    on Dec 21, 2018

    If you had bought this arrangement in a store it would have cost $80 to $200. It really turned out elegant, and such a good tutorial. Thank you!

  • Carol Dunn
    on Dec 22, 2018

    What a beautiful idea

Your comment...