This year the kids and I wanted to make some gifts for our grown-up family and friends and decided upon these gorgeous Tin Can Lanterns. They look so pretty with battery tea lights inside.
In fact, we loved how these tea light holders turned out so much, that we’re going to make some more so that we can keep some for our home too!
It’s always so nice to make or receive homemade gifts. Individually handmade presents feel so personal and special don’t they? I’m sure that anyone receiving one of these tin lanterns will be absolutely delighted, they are so pretty!
These pretty Tin Can Lanterns can be made in any colour and are finished off with some beautiful glass beads which add that perfect special finishing touch (I’ll pop details of where to buy them below).
When you put a little tea light inside the lanterns, the golden glow through the patterns is so pretty!
These tin can lanterns look lovely as inside or outside lights. You can sit them on the mantlepiece or use them as pretty patio lights.
We’re using our DIY tin can lanterns as homemade Christmas gifts but they’d be great presents to make at any time of the year.
I think our tea light lanterns look as nice, if not nicer, than any shop bought lanterns, yet they’re extremely easy and cheap to make!
I adore that they’re gifts that kids can make that any adult would love to receive. My youngest was 8 and he managed just fine. You could make these pretty tea light holders with younger children too, with a bit of adult support.
How To Make Tin Can Lanterns – Gorgeous Homemade Gifts
Supplies To Make Lanterns:
- Washed and dried tin cans from your recycling bin.
- Electric drill and metal drill bits
- Acrylic paint
- Masking tape
- Jewellery wire
- Seed beads
- Glass beads
- Battery tea lights
I’m so pleased with the glass beads we got for this craft idea. They are so pretty and make the finished tin can lanterns so special!
How To Make Handmade Gifts – Tin Can Lanterns
First of all we needed to wash and dry the tin cans really well. This was actually the only bit I didn’t let my children do themselves because the edges can be a sharp if you rub your fingers across them.
The children then used a basic acrylic paints set to mix up the shades of paint they wanted for this craft project. I love the shades they chose. With them being boys I thought we might end up with dark greys, blacks and browns but they seemed really mindful of who the gifts were for and were inspired by the prettiness of all the beads too.
We needed two coats of paint to cover the tins properly. If the lanterns are going to be used outside then you’ll need a more long-lasting waterproof paint, or you could try varnishing them when they’re finished.
Once the paint was dry, the children sketched out a simple design for the front on a piece of paper.
At first they were drawing designs that were far too complicated but once they marked on dots where they would need to drill they realised that they couldn’t have the lines too close together and just how many drill holes a complicated design would need!
In the end they chose a simple star, heart and spiral design.
Next we taped the paper design onto the front of the tin can, with some masking tape, avoiding the seam.
To make it more stable for the children to drill, I stuck the tin onto the table using some homemade play dough. (We didn’t have a vice.)
This worked really well but you’ll need to throw the play dough away after as it will have tiny metal shavings in.
If you don’t have play dough you could support the tin can with a rolled up tea towel.
To begin with I put a bag of play dough in the tin can too, thinking this would help stop the can caving in as the drill pushed through but we actually found this wasn’t necessary and the drill went through with hardly any pressure need at all.
The children worked their way around their design, drilling each hole carefully and adding an extra one on each side for the handle to be attached.
Before they started, they practised holding the drill vertically and starting it really slowly then building up speed. We also had a quick trial run on a spare tin can before they started on their design.
I made these homemade lanterns with my two boys aged 8 and 11. Once I’d shown them how to use the drill safely they were able to do it all independently. I’d be happy to do this activity again with younger children too but might opt to hold the drill with them.
Top Tip – make sure your drill bits are suitable for metal, and sharp! You don’t want to have to push hard on the tin can incase the drill bit slips off to one side.
How To Make Handles For The Tin Can Lanterns
Once the tin can lanterns had their designs drilled in, the children set to work making their handles.
We cut a short length of wire about 10cm longer than needed so that there’d be spare for securing the handle to the tin can lantern. The boys then threaded up the wire with the seed beads and 3 of the gorgeous glass beads.
Once they’d finished threading the lantern’s handle we threaded it through the holes in the side of the can and secured it into place by wrapping the excess round and round the handle.
Now that I know how beautiful these tin can lanterns look, I’ll be saving different shapes and sizes of cans from the recycling bin throughout the year. I’d love to find some really big tins to make lanterns with!
We love creating handmade gifts and this craft idea for kids is our contribution to the Counting Down To Christmas series organised by the lovely Cerys at Rainy Day Mum.
More Fun Autumn Crafts For Kids: