DIY Tin Can Lanterns

The kids love making these lanterns and although it may seem like a long process, with a bit of planning it actually goes very quickly.


When we have company over the summer it’s nice to light up the yard or porch with these simple DIY tin can lanterns.

What you’ll need:

  • Tin cans, scrubbed out and with the labels torn off. (Make sure there are no sharp edges!)
  • A nail
  • Hammer
  • Tea light candle


  1. Fill the cans with water and put them in the freezer overnight. The water needs to be frozen solid before you proceed to the next step because the ice will prevent the can from denting when you create your pattern using the hammer and nail.
  2. Complex shapes patterns can be sketched out in advance with a Sharpie, otherwise go crazy with random dots, like we did. Make plenty of holes so the light will shine through! (Be very careful—while this craft is great for older kids, adult supervision is still a must!)tincan1
  3. Hold the nail in place and give it a couple of careful taps with the hammer, just enough to pierce the can. Don’t hammer it in too deeply, otherwise it will be harder to remove the nail. It’s a good idea to spread a dish towel on your lap while you’re doing this. The can will be very cold and the hammering tends to loosen a few chips of ice off the top.
  4. Put your lanterns in place before you light the candle because the cans heat up very quickly. Then all you need to do is step back and enjoy the wonder of candlelight on a warm summer night and wait for company to arrive.


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