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. says

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

    • Angela says

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

  2. says

    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.

  3. 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

  4. Lesa says

    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!

  5. Tina R. says

    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!

  6. 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

  7. Margie says

    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.

  8. 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 😉

  9. Jo-Ann Brightman says

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

  10. 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!

  11. 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

  12. says

    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 😀

  13. 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.

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