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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Here they are lit up at night.

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 6 questions
  • Mel92767
    on Nov 13, 2019

    Wondering if painting the wood in a metallic color(copper, nickel, bronze) could have them look like metal, do you think that would work? Also, a suggestion, if you live where it can get windy, use fishing line to tie the lantern to the shepherd’s hook, especially since there’s glass inside.

    • Melanie
      on Nov 13, 2019

      Yes I think using that metallic color would work. And yes it's a good idea if you're hanging them out in the open to secure them.

  • DavidAnd GailWard Childers
    on Nov 19, 2019

    How do you get in and out of it to turn your lights off and on?

    • Patti Rueth
      on Nov 19, 2019

      It’s only a 3 sided frame ... the vase is not secured by glue only thing keeping it in place is the indented cut in the foam, so just lift up vase to replace candle/battery

  • Audrey Oliver
    on Nov 19, 2019

    How do I save this?

    • Billie
      on Dec 17, 2019

      Thanks so much for that question Audrey ! I always wished that I could save these ideas!! Thanks for the answer! Dan ! Merry Christmas you all !

Join the conversation

4 of 116 comments
  • Jessica Bliss Filipelli
    on Nov 19, 2019

    Do you think solar lights work inside the vase? I love this!

  • Margie Hood
    on Nov 22, 2019

    I adore this I have been wondering what to adorn on both sides of my entry on my steps to my porch and Bingo..I love love love it..and the greenery you put on it is free and beautiful to boot..oh I cant thank you enough for sharing this..I will definitely be doing this for my porch....thank you for the inspiration!

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