By Shirley Heringer, Party Expert
Here’s an idea that came together recently, shortly before my dinner guests were expected. I was so focused on the guest list and the menu, I almost forgot about decorating. I needed something to add some interest, and I needed it in a hurry. If mason jar luminaries sound interesting to you, here’s an idea that combines shabby chic with DIY in a quick, inexpensive and creative way.
Collect and wash 6 to 8 (or more) Mason jars retrieved from thrift stores, yard sales, or even your pantry, no lids required. If you have time, you may also find mason jars in blue glass for an interesting alternative. Don’t worry if the jars are different sizes or shapes. This just adds to the appeal.
Now, take 16-20 gauge craft wire (available at Michael’s or Walmart, etc) and wrap it once securely (but not too tight) around the neck of each bottle, using flat-nosed pliers to twist the ends and tuck in the edges of the wire.
Take one piece of the wire (16 or so inches long) and attach it at each side of the wire around the neck to serve as a “handle” from which to hang your lantern. Again, use the pliers to twist the wire and complete a finished closure on both sides. You can use “S” hooks to hang the lanterns.
Fill each jar 1/3 to 1/2 full of beach sand, beach glass, or glass beads and stand a 4 inch candle upright in the sand. You can also use a votive candle. In the picture below you can see I used some beach glass I had collected over the years.
Think about attaching some beads, charms or a shell to dangle from the handle of your mason jar luminaries. Use the sand filled lanterns to add sparkle to your outside dining or to lend a romantic glow to your porch or any outside area. You can group the lanterns for a dramatic effect, or strategically place them as you would a reading lamp above each guest. Another possibility is to skip the hanger altogether and line up the lanterns along the steps or walkway to your front door.
The possibilities on this theme are endless. Consider using colored sand in layers with coordinating candle colors.
Here are some other suggestions for personalizing the lanterns for special occasions: A birthday party lantern could be decorated on the glass with adhesive numbers or think Mom’s day and use her favorite colors and themes. For a bridal shower, you could personalize the lanterns with ribbon or flowers on the handles and sprinkle small shells over the sand.
For a memorable touch, send a mason jar luminary home with each guest as a party favor.