It’s always nice to liven up a backyard Bar-B-Que or Summer gathering with some lighting. What better way to do it than with something homemade. It’s inexpensive and the ambiance is beautiful.  These are just two simple ideas and your children can participate in the fun.

 Sand Candles

For that upcoming Independence Day celebration, you can pay tribute to the Stars and Stripes with red, white, and blue bands of sand. This is a simple way to dress up votive candles to make flickering lights that are cheerful and fun. Sand is available in a variety of colors at many art-supply stores. Designing the candles is as simple as pouring layers of colored sand into various glass candle holders. Make several, and create a patriotic centerpiece for your outdoor festivities.

To make the sand candle, fill a clear drinking glass with enough sand so that a votive candle placed on top falls just below the rim. Set the glass inside a clear glass vase or Mason jar. With a funnel, fill the gap between the two containers with layers of colored sand, using enough to reach the rim of the drinking glass.

Frosted Mason Jars

Create charming frosted votive jars to add an inviting glow to any summertime festivity. The technique is easy; paint, votives, and glass containers. To achieve a rich yet frosted appearance, use glass paints, which are nontoxic, permanent, and dishwasher- and microwave-safe.

Tools and Materials

  • Glass container, such as a Mason jar
  • Rubbing alcohol (optional)
  • Colored paint (1 1/2 ounces will cover 4 pint-size jars)
  • Paper towels or cloth
  • Shallow pan
  • Wire, crimp beans, and pliers, for hanging (optional)

Votives How-To
1. Prepare jar for painting by washing and, if necessary, wiping interior with rubbing alcohol to remove any debris or traces of oil.

Pour approximately 3 to 4 tablespoons of paint into the jar. Rotate jar slowly to move paint around the interior until entire surface is coated. Tip jar on one of its sides, and hold in that position to pool excess paint in one area. Pour excess paint into the second jar, making sure it has been cleaned and prepared for painting. Continue this step until all four jars are coated.

2. Place the jars, inverted, mouth side down, on a small stack of wet paper towels or a cloth to allow any excess paint to drain. To avoid excess-paint buildup at the mouth of the jar, replace wet paper towels until paint begins to set and is no longer dripping. Once paint has initially set, turn it back on its base to dry for 24 hours.

3. Once dry, place jars in a shallow pan, in a 325 degree oven, and bake for approx. 40 minutes. Turn oven off, and allow jars to cool in oven, leaving door ajar. After the jars have cooled, insert a votive candle.

4. To hang the jars, cut several pieces of wire 3 inches longer than the circumference of the jar. String one crimp bead onto one end of the wire. Holding it in place, thread the wire’s other end through the same bead in the opposite direction so that the crimp bead has a wire end extending about 1/2 inch out of each opening. Use pliers to crimp the bead, creating a wire ring that will be placed around the jar’s neck. Place the ring over the mouth, and twist loops on opposite sides of ring until small enough so that it won’t slip off. Bend wire in half, slip one end into one loop, and use pliers to bend the tip of the end upward. Repeat for other side.

5. To add that extra special personalization, have your kids punch out shapes and glue them to the outside of the jars before hanging or placing on tables. The flickering lights will make their shapes dance across the walls and table cloths.

Photograph courtesy of www.nycresistor.com