From weddings to bonfires, outdoor parties after dark are gorgeous. Moonlight and mystery unite to make the perfect setting for gatherings of friends and family. But moonlight isn’t quite enough to see by. You want the ambient beauty of nighttime lighting, but you also don’t want guests tripping over themselves in the shadows! Walkway lights are the perfect solution, especially when you make them yourself.
Did you know that you can make a beautiful, unique solar walkway with minimal effort? You can, with just a few simple materials. In fact, you might already have some of these in the house.
Any season is ideal for these lovely little lanterns. You can use them for a summer cocktail party, or a winter solstice celebration. They’re also perfect for an early morning Easter-vigil egg hunt: the opportunities are endless!
With these easy diy solar lights, your guests can find their way to the eggnog with ease. If you have a large garden or a small trail, setting up this fairytale walkway will inspire cozy evening strolls and midsummer moon walks.
All you need are some Mason jars, solar lights, and a glue gun. That’s it. In fact, these simple little lights are great way to step into DIY decorating. Whether you’re a beginner or another Martha Stewart, you’ll have fun with this project.
Let’s get started.
This project is really simple. You don’t need to gather many materials to succeed at making your own beautiful solar lights.
All the materials are easy to find. Furthermore, if you’re lucky enough to have a good farm and garden store nearby, you’ll find them all in one stop.
What You’ll Need:
- Mason jars: A box of 12 narrow-mouth jars is ideal for a short pathway. You made need two or even three boxes of small-mouth jars for a longer pathway. Choose small-mouth jars, since large-mouth jars won’t work well for this project.
- A glue gun: A hot glue gun will be the best and quickest way of attaching the solar light to the jar. You could probably get away with using rubber cement or even wood glue, but a hot glue gun is the best option. Additionally, that glue gun will create the quickest and neatest line of sealant for your needs. Best of all, glue will attach your light to its jar securely, but it can also be peeled off if you make a mistake.
- Solar lights: There are so many solar light options available today. For this project, you need some inexpensive stake solar garden lights. They’re easily found in dollar stores, hardware stores, farm stores, and even catch-all shops like Target and Walmart.
These lights are attached to a long stake for securing them in the ground. The light itself has a little solar dome atop it and is easy to remove from the base. They usually don’t retail for more than 2 or 3 dollars each, so they won’t break the bank.
Now that you have your basic materials, you’re ready to get started. But, if you’re going for a slightly funkier vibe, you can always add some paint to the mix.
Try coating the inside of the Mason jars with a thin layer of watercolor paint for colorful lights. Alternatively, brush some clear gel medium inside them and sprinkle in some glitter. You can even pick up some vintage-style green, purple, or blue jars from a thrift shop. Add a Moroccan inspired twist by using puff paint to mimic gold wire work.
Putting it All Together
You’ve got all the pieces—now, let’s make them into something beautiful.
First, disconnect the stakes from the tops of your solar lights. You won’t be using the stakes for this endeavor, but hold onto them. At some point, you may want to reassemble these lights, or use the stakes for something else.
Once you’ve removed all the stakes from your solar lights, grab one of those Mason jars. Now, unscrew the lid trace the rim of the jar with hot glue. You don’t need much: just one thin line of glue is perfect. Avoid heavy lines of glue, as they’ll drip down your jar and distract from the cozy charm of these little lights.
As soon as you have a line of glue on the jar, pop on a solar light. Make sure the bulb faces down into the jar, and the solar cap faces the sun.
That’s it! This project can be completed in under 30 minutes, but may take long if you make a lot of jar lanterns. Just note that if you do decide to paint the jars, you will need to let the paint dry completely before attaching your lights.
Use Your Lights
You’ve created twelve beautiful Mason jar solar lamps. Nicely done! But what do you do with them now?
Well, if you don’t already have plans for them, take a night or two and see where they look best. Solar lights charge during the daytime hours and turn on when the sun goes down. As such, they’re best suited for sunny gardens.
These delightful votives are ideal if you have a small labyrinth or meditation path. In addition, they’re also perfect for a prayer garden, or a long walkway between a house and a barn.
If you’re hosting a party, then be sure to scatter these lights everywhere. Even though they can’t recharge well indoors, move them inside after a long day in the sunlight. The gentle glow of the solar votives will give a soft, candle-lit glow to the rooms.
Get the Kids Involved
This is a great project for kids to share in. Older kids can do the whole project with minimal oversight, while smaller children can help with every phase of the process from decorating to displaying.
Invite your kids to decorate the insides of the jars before attaching the lights. Remember that painting the jar is just the beginning: there are many different ways to make these your own.
Additionally, these lanterns are wonderful for outdoor children’s parties. The jars are quite sturdy, and there’s no risk of fire if they’re accidentally knocked over.
Hang the jars from the ceiling in macrame hangers to add a funky, bohemian look to your porch or patio. Depending on where you’ll be hanging them, you may have to take your lights down during the day to charge. Just pop them out of the macrame and bring them out into the sunlight.
Macrame hangers are ideal for these rustic little votives, and they can be embellished with beads or knotwork to add another dimension of interest.
Fill the bottom of the jar with colorful, clear glass pebbles. In fact, you can use these to fill the jar all the way up to the light itself. They give a soft, diffused look to the light and add a pop of color. Glass pebbles can be found at any local craft store, or online.
Buy a few different hues and change the pebbles in your lights each season. Combine red, orange, and yellow beads for an autumnal look. Blues and grays with a pop of red make a wintery base, and green, yellow, and pink are perfect representations of spring.
Or, create an ombre effect in each lantern by layering colored and clear pebbles up the base of the jar.
Cut or draw designs onto rice paper, insert the paper into the jar so that it opens up against the sides of the jar, insert the light and let your lights tell a story.
This project can help put your guests in the party spirit by showing them what they’re approaching. Use these story-telling solar lights to set the mood for a spooky Halloween party, or spell out a clue for your guests to guess as they walk through the garden.
In winter, spray a bit of fake snow or glass froster onto the outside of the jar and add some snowflakes. You can either cut out out your own snowflakes or just add on some stickers. These wintery solar lights will turn even the most tropical yard into a winter wonderland.
Back to Basics
There are so many ways to turn these simple jar lights into a Pinterest dream, but don’t get overwhelmed! These easy DIY lights don’t need all the extras to make them attractive.
Sometimes the simplest option is the best one to choose. You can put these adorable lights together in under an hour, which means that on busy party days, you can have them assembled and displayed in time to charge in the sunlight all day.
Now you have more time to perfect your summertime flower cheesecake, eggnog yule log, or effervescent Easter punch before the guests arrive. Or maybe just sit back with a glass of wine and admire your creativity. Because let’s face it, with these lovely lights, your party is going to be amazing.