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Suggestions for the Manufacture
of Christmas Luminaries

luminaries (19K) Christmas luminaries can be made in many styles. Perhaps the favorite, and easiest to make, is the traditional candle in a paper bag. The materials needed are inexpensive and easily found. Construction is simple. When alight, paper luminaries cast an especially warm glow. After the holidays, clean up is easy and the sand can be saved for next year, or tossed on icy driveways.

PC171675_350 (67K)Supplies needed are: 50lb bag of general purpose sand (available from Lowe's, 1495 Main Street); white, 12LB paper sandwich bags (available from GFS, 6805 Dixie Highway, Fairfield); 4 ounce candle votives (available for about 25 cents each from Factory Direct, 6252 Glenway Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio -- behind the Home Depot); cardboard.

Your neighbors Mary Jane and Bret Leveline of 436 Marcia Avenue will have sand and paper pages available for Highlanders on December 18 through 22 from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, and on December 23 from 8:00 AM until Noon.

PC171679_350 (48K)Cut cardboard to fit neatly into the bottom of the paper bag, a rectangle approximately 7 inches by four and a quarter inches. Place the cardboard in the bottom of the bag. The board will give your luminary stability and help the bag to hold its shape.

By the way Hobby Lobby 100-count mini-light sets come in box that happens to be the right size for this application. If you need new Christmas lights, save the boxes for your luminaries.

PC171683_350 (35K)Roll the lip of the bag back on itself about an inch and tuck in the unfinished edge. Don't worry about small tears. Rolling the lip strengthens the bag and helps it stay open.

PC171685_350 (42K)Fill the bag with approximately 2 cups of general purpose sand.

PC171688_350 (46K)Place the votive in the center of the sand and wiggle it into place until secure. By the way, a tea light is not a votive and is too small for this application.

PC171691_350 (37K)Carefully test light. An extra long butane lighter is helpful.

PC171692_350 (56K)For those who want a brighter luminary and don't mind an extra step or two, white tapers can be substituted for votives. Luminaries made with tapers require more vigilance as they are more susceptible to flame outs.

To use tapers, you'll need 12 inch white taper candles and floral adhesive such as Cling or Sure-Stik.

PC171693_350 (64K)Cut the candle to achieve its widest possible base. Apply a dab of adhesive to the base of the candle and stick the candle on to the cardboard.

PC171694_350 (45K)The candle should be able to stand on its own.

PC171695_350 (29K)When using tapers, it's doubly important to roll back the lip of the bag to prevent the sides of the bag from collapsing into the flame.

PC171696_350 (33K)Fill the bag with at least 4 cups of general purpose sand. The taper needs the added weight and stability extra sand provides.

PC171697_350 (21K)Carefully test light.

PC171712_350 (34K)Place your luminaries along the sidewalk and light the way for Christmas! Votive style luminary on the left. Taper style luminary on the right. Both styles will provide at least six hours of burn time.

  • Practice fire safety! Don't leave luminaries burning unattended. Place luminaries away from flammable materials.