Garden Hanging Lights

5 Materials
1 Hour
These lights are made out of plastic cups and they last forever!
night view of my back yard with the lights
Many of you may have seen the original sparkle ball on Pinterest or on other websites. You can use my method or the no-melt method using staples, but I prefer this way (it's much stronger). 4 years ago we had a beautiful sweet sixteen party for my Daughter in our garden in a formal set up. I was looking for some lights. I didn't want spot lights. I wanted some soft lighting but enough to light up the area. I came across a few electric and solar lights online, but could not afford to buy 15 lights for 160 dollars each. So I decided to make these. I started 4 months before the party and my daughter and I did all the wiring going up the tree and the branches and hung these up. Its been 4 + years and still standing strong after the Hurricane "Sandy" and the violent storm that slammed South Jersey few years ago known as derecho. You can use any color lights. I used clear lights so we use them year around, not just for X-Mas or any holidays. Everyone loves these lights at night and they give ample lighting for the entire yard.
So, I didn't take pictures when I was making them (4 years ago). So I found some pics online to explain here. Make sure you don't burn your hand. Heat up the soldering iron and start putting holes in each cups like this one. Set them aside as you work.
using cloth pins
Make a circle of cups and use the cloth pins to hold them in place, then melt the cups together with the soldering gun.
This is your 1st circle, now stack the 2nd row and do the same
You are almost done with half of your circle. Once this is done, do the 2nd circle.
PLEASE IGNORE THE BLACK COLOR PAINT ON THE BOTTOM. DO NOT DO THAT. use electric string of lights (not battery operated) Take the string lights and insert in each holes. if you have 100 lights you can insert two lights in each hole, or leave the rest in the middle cavity.
These are the two half circles with the lights on. Now make the globe by putting the two half domes together.
Here's the final step.
Add a shower curtain ring and use a zip tie to secure it. Enjoy!!! Note: you can do color cups, color lights. Hang it any were you want it.
Here's the blue LED light strip I placed under my counter top to give that ambient lighting at night.
Here's my dog Bingo enjoying the movie. Once you melt both half domes together and put the hanging ring on it, just hang it anywhere you want. I choose to hang it on the tree branches, which includes running the extension cords and and hide all the wires etc.. People are asking lot of questions about that, I cant really help you on how to run the wires up the tree, I am not a certified electrician. I ran an orange extension cord under ground in a plastic tube then ran 5-7 ft extension cords from that to each branch and hung the lights on that, but pleased get advice from an electrician before doing any electric work.
Here's what it looks like during the day.
Suggested materials:
  • 50 - 9oz clear plastic cups   (SAMS club (200 cups for 9.99))
  • Cloth pins (20 - 25)   (dollar store/supermarket)
  • Clear (electric) X-Mas string lights (50 to 100 count)   (Sears/Homedepot/seasonal stores)
See all materials
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
3 of 7 questions
  • Evelyn Meier Evelyn Meier on Oct 22, 2016
    how do you melt the cups using a soldering iron./ Don't you use a glue gun to glue the cups together And why, in one of your photos, are there black bottoms to what you say are clear plastic cups. You are not giving thorough information.

  • Smk1442994 Smk1442994 on Oct 23, 2016
    where do you plug them in when they are hanging or are you using battery operated strings of lights?

  • Ardale Ardale on Aug 17, 2017
    What is strip lighting and where did you get it? Does it plug in to an electrical outlet or is it solar? I'd also like to ask did you make the cute hanging lights over your bar area and if so are you going to show us how you did them? Would also like to see how you attached your strip lighting? Love how you've lit your whole backyard, so pretty! Thanks for sharing with the rest of us!

Join the conversation
2 of 58 comments