DIY: Ice Luminaries

By Amy Christie

Winter is dark and cold — at least where I live. I can’t do much about the cold, however, I can do something about the dark! The long nights of the winter are a perfect time for luminaries. Who doesn’t love the inviting look of a walkway lined with lights?

My mom sent me this product link after seeing it in a local garden store. I loved it! It reminded me of this pin and, with a little DIY-ing, I figured out a way to make them into outdoor luminaries. The light source is your choice — small click lights or candles — and with a few other simple materials, your winter can be a little less dark too.

It’s so easy you’ll want to make a bunch!


– Balloons – any size – Huge ones would be awesome!
– Water
– Colored dye, optional
– Click lights/Candles

To begin, if you want to add color, add a few drops of dye inside the balloon. For very dense, deep coloring, add more than a few drops.

Attach to a water faucet and slowly fill the balloon with water.

Fill to your desired amount. Be careful of overfilling, especially if there is dye involved that could stain if the balloon bursts.

Freeze. There are two freezing techniques — use the first for click lights and the second if you’re using candles.

Click lights:

Completely freeze the balloons. It is freezing cold here so I was able to plop my outside. I placed them on a cookie sheet to keep them semi-contained.

Once frozen, remove the balloon.

Scoop out a little divot in the snow, place the click light inside and place the ice luminary on top.

The click light version is nice for bright, non-extinguishable light.


Obsessively Frequently check on them while they freeze. Allow the water in the balloons to mostly freeze.

When the outer shell is frozen but the inside is still water, cut away the balloon and release the water. You may have to carefully break the bottom open to release the water. Do this outside, in a sink or over a bucket so the water doesn’t stain. Don’t have snow? This method works great for non-snow areas like deck railings, with click lights or candles.

Once the water is removed, continue to freeze the ice globes.

When they are fully frozen, cover the candle with the cavity of the ice globe. The heat from the candle will melt the luminary after a while. Thankfully the supplies are really cheap. :)

While it requires more fiddling and the flames can be easily extinguished by wind or melting ice, I think I prefer the soft light of candles.

Either way, icy light makes the winter dark less so!

63 thoughts on “DIY: Ice Luminaries”

  1. Those are brilliant. It’s freezing outside with lots (for England) of snow. I think I know how to occupy myself (and maybe a child or three) if there’s a snow day in our future.


  2. This post took my breath away because they are so pretty and that this could be my own lawn!! We make these like crazy and in variations, up here in the north, too.(Sweden) I adore Gabrielle/designmom and am happy to find a shared love here! Aren’t ice lanterns are truly this beautiful and we all — kids and myself — love keeping them in supply.

  3. Ice luminaries are a brilliant idea, especially with the freezing weather arriving in Boston this week. The question is: which light source do I choose? There’s something ethereal about the melt-away candle version but my boys might not appreciate their project’s disappearance… Either way, thank you!!

    1. … we’re commenting at about the same time on these pretties! I couldn’t resist a response at the mention of ” boys” — I’m another reader (www.willowday) not designmom but, I wanted to add that we’re experienced ice lanterns makers (and we make them all winter) that I much prefer the look of tea light candles and with heat rising, we’ve have never had our ice lanterns melt away. The beauty with these is so two fold, our boys love to keep us in supply and we love the magic they create.

      From our household’s experience, if you’re really worried about these being too delicate, freeze some lanterns solid (into sculptures) and alternate them in within your other “ice lanterns” which have the candle. This trick has worked great for us!

      Last, if you want one that lasts and lasts and lasts, a deep sand bucket can really be a robust beauty. Although we live in Sweden, with a long winter for these; we’ve made them in the Autumn and they last long enough for a start of a party and I’ve had readers who’ve mailed me photos of these used at indoor diners! I hope you have the chance, too!

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  5. Christina at I Gotta Create!

    Love! Pinning these :)

    <3 Christina at I Gotta Create!
    Wildly Original linky party Opens every Wednesday evening.

  6. These are like baby Finnish Ice Lanterns. I grew up in a town with a huge first generation Finnish population and they use to make these in the winter for their loved ones. It’s a tradition to put one out for each family member that has died or put one on their plot at the cemetery. These are much cheerier!

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  9. i just love this. i tried a similar idea a few years ago. i used card board orange juice cartons filled with water, set a can filled with rocks or sand in the water and let freeze. tear the carton off when frozen, pour hot water in the the can to remove it and you can set outside with your candles inside.

  10. Even with below freezing temps and a bit of snow on the ground, I did not get frozen balls, disappointed. Hmm, put them in my deep freeze. WhaHoo!

  11. Lisa - Perth Australia

    Wow truly awesome – I wish it was cold enough to try this here. We are in the middle of summer and our winters are mild

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  13. Wow these are beautiful! I can imagine that it is really comfortable to light the luminaries on a cold winter night when you sit with a blanked on a couch sipping a hot chocolate.

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  16. I’m in the U.S. in Iowa (which is really cold in the winter). I’d like to try these, but I’d like to try the click lights. What are click lights????? Where do you purchase click lights????
    Thank you. I don’t like the dark, cold winters. Maybe this will make it brighter for me :)

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  20. Love this! I’m in Canada so the weather is defiantely cooperating (-20 C today). I could make these and they would stay frozen all winter (3+ months). I run a dayhome and the kids would love to make tons of these. But I hate the idea of having to turn the click lights on and off every evening…or of leaving them on and wasting expensive batteries. Also not a fan of having to light and put out a candle every evening. Has anyone tried this successfully with outdoor xmas lights? Or solar garden lights? Any suggestions would be great.

  21. Today is my daughters 16th birthday and she passed away on March 27 of this year so I filled the balloons with water and food coloring to freeze and put on the ramp to our house! 16 of them just for her

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