Each Halloween, Miss Party makes a few spooky Halloween luminaries to add to a growing collection that now totals around three dozen. The grocery bag luminaries are big, festive and interesting for guests to look at as they arrive for a Halloween party or as a display in a corner of an outdoor party space. On Halloween night, she lights the luminaries again for Trick-or-Treaters. Boo!
Since the thick kraft paper holds up through an evening’s use, Miss Party saves them for subsequent years. Each Halloween, she picks out a dozen or so of her designs from her collection and creates a multi-level display. She also uses them along pathways or adds to Halloween scenes. They’re inexpensive to make and set up each year, and much cheaper (and less messy) than lots of carved pumpkins. She also made a few with arrows pointing left or right to help guide guests.
One of her favorite sets of luminaries is perfect to be used along a pathway. Each bag has one word of the spooky phrase “I’d – turn – back – if – I – were – you!”
Notes on Fire-safety: Do NOT place in locations where costumed guests may accidently knock them over. Do NOT use luminaries if weather conditions are windy or wet. Do NOT place in or near dry leaves or other yard debris. The luminaries do best if placed in a dry, open or sheltered area (if windy).
large brown kraft paper grocery bag(s) (preferable if new and/or no logo printed on the ‘front’ of the bag)
cardboard that is the same size as inside dimension of your paper bag
extra-large tea light or votive candle in candleholder, one per luminary (if using regular size tea lights use at least 2 per bag)
several rocks per bag or sand to weigh down the bag
Aluminum roasting pan/tray, low sided (similar dimension as bottom of bag) (protects bag from wetness if placed on the ground)
1) Slide your cardboard into the blank side of your paper bag. Roll the top edge of the paper bag down one inch to give the bag a bit more stiffness so that it will remain open when lit.
2) Choose a design from your books, freehand draw the design onto your paper bag. If you are having trouble with the drawing, keep your designs simple. Draw scary or smiling pumpkin faces to start and work up to more complex patterns.
3) Using your Exacto knife, cut out the design. If you accidently cut away some piece you didn’t want to cut, use packing tape on the reverse side to tape back into place.
4) Cut a piece of waxed paper that is a little larger than your design. Glue the waxed paper onto the backside of your design (inside the bag). Apply glue around all edges of the design so that the waxed paper is really attached to all the little details.
The waxed paper gives design stability and will keep the kraft paper from curling away as outdoor moisture increases and the paper absorbs some of the moisture. The waxed paper also helps to spread the candlelight to entire design so that it isn’t dark at the top of the bag.
To assemble the luminary:
Open the bag and place several stones/rocks (Miss Party’s preference) or a layer of sand into the bottom of the bag. Place your candle into the bottom of the bag. Place the bag onto an aluminum roasting tray if the luminary will be sitting on soil or wet grass to add a layer of protection from moisture or wind.
Light and enjoy!