Summer Fun Series: Tin Can Lanterns

I love making new things from everyday throwaways, and have been thinking about making some of these tin can lanterns for months now. When Emily from Nap-Time Creations asked Laura and I to participate in her Summer Fun Series, I knew it was the perfect time to make some. Summer break has already been so much fun for my family with a trip last weekend to Stone Mountain Park and Six Flags. Last week my nieces and I had fun making Duct Tape Tote Bags like the one in our Alamo Drive Happy Box. We even made our own miniature golf course in the front yard. We’ll be sharing that project on the blog next week, so keep an eye out for it. It’s shaping up to be a fun summer, for sure!

Tin Can Lanterns

My Tin Can Lanterns are included week 2 of the Summer Fun series, along with some other great summer fun projects. Be sure to hop on over to each blog shown below, and check out their projects!

Summer Fun part 2
Banana Pudding Pops by Ginger Snap Crafts on Nap-Time Creations
Tin Can Lanterns by About a Mom
Crabby Onesie by My Mom Made That

How to Make Tin Can Lanterns

These lanterns are so much fun to make and the supplies you’ll need for this project are minimal. Don’t buy any special paint for this project. We just used some acrylic craft paints that we already had, and with 4th of July coming up soon went with a red, white, and blue theme. I have to confess that my mom, Laura, ended up doing a lot of the work on these lanterns. She’s so good like that.

Tin Can Lanterns

Supplies You’ll Need:

recycled tin cans
bailing wire
craft paint
tea light candles

Step 1: Begin by washing all the cans. Remove the labels and glue from the cans. If you come across some stubborn glue, WD-40 proved to be very helpful. I first tried a Magic Eraser which turned out to not be such a good idea.

Step 2: Fill all the cans with water and place them in the freezer. Leave them in until the ice is solid, overnight should be good. This helps the can hold its shape for the next steps. You don’t want to skip this step. Trust me.

Step 3: Remove your frozen can from the freezer, and place it on a towel. You’ll want to do this a can at a time. Using a hammer and nail, pound a hole near the top of the can. Flip the can over and make another hole straight across from the first hole. These will be used to attach the handle later on.

Step 4: Make your design. I first tried making a design on paper and taping it to the can, but it didn’t stay in place very well. I ended up doing my designs freestyle. Use the hammer and nail to start punching out a design in your can. The size of your holes will vary based on the size of the nail you use. I prefer using a larger nail for this. Less work and more light will shine through.

How to Make Tin Can Lanterns

Step 5: When you design is all finished, place the can in the sink and let the ice melt out. I’m a rather impatient person, so I cheated with a little warm water. Let the can dry completely.

Step 6: You will notice a big bulge in the bottom of the can. Don’t panic because this is supposed to happen. It comes from freezing water in it. It can easily be fixed. Simply use a hammer to pound it down flat.

Step 7: Brush some paint onto the dried cans. Allow to dry completely.

Step 8: Make a handle. Cut a 12 inch strip of bailing wire and curve the end of it to form a hook. Stick the hook through one of the top side holes. Twist the hook around to secure it. Make a hook on the other end of the wire. Stick it in the side hole on the other side and twist it around. Easy peasy!

Step 9: Insert tea light candles and light them up.

Tin Can Lanterns

It’s the glow of summer.

I love how they light up the screened porch on a rainy evening – something we’ve been having a lot of lately.

Tin Can Lantern

In case you missed week 1 of the summer fun series, check out all the great projects below!


TeePee from a Sheet- XOXO Grandma… I am making this for sure!

Princess Slime- the Sewing Sparrow… this looks fun! Even for my boys

Grilled Bananas- For You With Love… These look so tasty!

Be sure to visit Nap-Time Creations each week this summer for more fun summer projects!

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  1. too fun!! SO summery! Thanks so much for participating in my summer series!! pinning ;o)

  2. What a unique and fun project. I never would have thought about the ice.

  3. What a cute project and a great way to up cycle a can! The ice is a good tip too.

  4. teresa mccluskey says:

    This looks cool, I think I may make them for my 4th of july party!

  5. I absolutely love these! Perfect for a 4th of July in the country like we’ll be having.

  6. These are so neat! And a great way to be resourceful!!

  7. Those lanterns are such a cute idea.I will try to have a go during the summer.

  8. Fun project, especially for little ones. I might have to make these for the 4th of July.

  9. That’s a great idea! My son wold love this one!

  10. What a perfect summer craft idea! My boys would have a blast making those.

  11. Those tin cans are adorable! They make the perfect summer decoration!

  12. This is such a fun idea! We’ll have to try this!

  13. Wow this is such an adorable idea! We are definitely going to have to make these for July 4th coming up.

  14. Fantastic idea. So easy and crafty!

  15. Angela, those came out so cute! You guys have so much fun all the time! I pinned them!

  16. So cute. Love those tin can lanterns. I would enjoy those when we hang out in our back yard.

  17. What an easy way to make the holes. I was sure you used some puncher!

  18. These tin can lanterns would look so cool around my parents’ pool. I would much rather make something I could customize over buying lanterns.

  19. What a fun activity! I’ll have to start saving a few of our cans to try this sometime.

  20. I need to make a few of these for photo props! They would be awesome.

  21. Oh adorable! What a really great, cute idea! I love this!

  22. Those lanterns are ADORABLE! I love the red, white and blue colors for summer!

  23. Those are really cool! Our children would love them!

  24. I love these! They are simple and adorable! I pinned them so I don’t forget to make them with the kiddos!

  25. What an awesome Fourth of July idea! These are neat. I’d definitely put mosquito repellent candles in them!

  26. What a great idea, and way to recycle. Do you think they could make use of votive candles?

    • You could totally use votive candles, Jen. You might want to put some foil under them for easier cleanup though.

  27. These lanterns are adorable. And look so easy to make. This would be a fantastic project for the kids this summer.

  28. I’ve always wanted to make these!! It doesn’t look as hard as I thought..

  29. That’s a fun upcycle! My kids would love this

  30. What a fun idea to do with the kids! Love it!

  31. I bet those lanterns look neat at night. What a cool idea!

  32. You always post the coolest crafts ever!! I absolutely LOVE this idea!

  33. Those are so cute, what a great upcycle and kids craft!

  34. What a super cool upcycled project. I never thought of making the pattern to do the project. Thanks for sharing!

  35. Those are awesome and will probably last a good long time too. A great craft to make for summer memories.

  36. Well aren’t these fun and festive! Such a cute easy idea.

  37. That looks so cool, they came out beautifully!

  38. This! Soooo this! I love it! I’m pinning and making! Thank you!

  39. What a fun craft! those would be great decorations for a nightime BBQ!

  40. I love those! They’re super cute and festive too.

  41. I LOVE this idea! My kids would love making these with me too!

  42. I love those tin can lanterns, they are so fun and festive!!! I like the idea of poking holes to put a candle in at night! CUTE!

  43. What a great idea! And they look so beautiful with the light shining from inside!

  44. So cute. I love that I can make it with the kids. Thanks!

  45. Those lanterns are adorable! I can so see those lining our backyard fence this summer!

  46. Well that looks like a doable craft for just about anyone!

  47. What a great project! I love that they are turning trash into something awesome!

  48. Those are just too cute. I need to make those for the 4th.

  49. How cute are those, looks super easy.

  50. This is very creative! I would love to try this out one day!

  51. Oh I love this! Definitely will have to put something like this together for the 4th!

  52. What a great idea! I love this and the kids can come up with some creative ideas to decorate them.

  53. Okay, that is such a creative idea….we will have to try it!

  54. What a cute idea! I’ll have to try this as a craft with my girls!

  55. Your tin can lanterns turned out so nicely! I’ll have to try this with the kids.

  56. At first glance, this wouldn’t look like an easy project to do. However, the tutorial shows how simple it is! I’ll definitely have try something like this.

  57. I love these! What a great idea! Thanks for sharing on the Monday Funday Party!

  58. Very fun idea!

  59. love, love this idea! How creative! Stopping by share your stuff Tuesdays! :-)

  60. So fun (and easy)… which means I’ll actually try it :) Pinned!

  61. These are so cute and I would never have thought of freezing water to hold their shape. Stopping by from You’re Gonna Love It party.

  62. Thanks for coming and linking up at The Weekend Social. Please be sure to come back next week starting Thursdays at 9PM EST on Kitchen ! I hope to see you there! (Pinned)

  63. These are SO cute! Love the different colours :)
    Thanks for sharing in this week’s “Share Your Stuff Tuesdays” (Rachael @

  64. We could definitely use more craft ideas and those tin can lanterns and crabby shirts would both be a hit.

  65. angela smith says:

    this tin can idea looks great.i love the red ,white and blue theme for the 4th of july.i’ll have to try making them

  66. Thanks so much for sharing this at the Say G’day Saturday linky party. I’ve just pinned this and shared on G+.

    Best wishes,
    Natasha in Oz

  67. I love this idea! Going to have to eat some canned goods in the next few days! I think they are really cute and you can paint them for any occasion or to match anything. How fun, easy, and best of all inexpensive!

  68. This would be such a cute idea for a July 4th cookout! Any outdoor activity actually but it is that time of year and always looking for cute decorating ideas! Put some citronella candles in them to keep the bugs at bay too!

  69. Sally T. says:

    Very fun idea,I had no idea that you make
    a template with paper and just pound in with a nail.

  70. tamra gibson says:

    I really enjoyed learning about the cans craft. I used to do crafts all the time and it seems I just stopped. This is something that I could so because we always save coffee cans for little screws and bolts in the garage. We also have paint just lying around and I have plenty of tea light candles. We live in a real small town in Ky so I know my cans will be gossiped and admired all around. Thanks for sharing

  71. Wow, these look really cool! I will have to try this for the 4th of July!

  72. What a clever idea. I like that they are easy to make, and you can use items you already have at home. Thanks for shAring.

  73. Leah Williams says:

    Super cute! I have a Costco membership, so we wind up with a lot of huge cans and it seems like a lot of metal to throw away! I’m pinning this ;-)

  74. Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    This is a different and fun project . Thanks for the easy directions and the tip about WD-40

  75. Sandy Cain says:

    These look like so much fun! I wish I lived in a house, instead of an apartment. I’d have these on a proch, a patio, lining the driveway….I guess you could customize these for any, occasion, too!

  76. Melissa S says:

    I want to do a bunch of these, I would never thought of freezing the cans, that is simply genius.

  77. Jennifer I says:

    I have my cans all ready to go in the freezer. Your blog has the best steps, by far, to point us in the right direction to come up with some beautiful summer upcycled lanterns. xo

  78. what a cute idea, and what a great idea to freeze them with water to keep them strong while hammering the holes in them. i wanna hang a bunch around the yard in my trees, so cute :D

  79. Shannon says:

    These are so fun! Thank you for sharing this craft with us.

  80. Sarah Vegetabile says:

    I just realised I can use led tealights in these for the fall! This will be great out in the front to keep the front porch decorated as the leaves change and fall sets in.

  81. rosa rogers says:

    I love this craft…It looks like so much fun to make with the kids..thank you for sharing.

  82. Sarah Matos says:

    Love this idea. Inexpensive since we all use cans and throw them out anyways!

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