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Make a Jack-O-Lantern Luminary  
Be ready for autumn with an easy, fun, and safe alternative to the traditional candlelit project.


FunAs the morning temperatures start their slow decline downward and the trees begin to take on their first touches of yellow, red, and orange, we get a sense that it's time to say goodbye to another summer and greet the early days of autumn. During this time of year, thoughts turn to pumpkins, jack-o-lanterns, and fall leaves—all of which are wonderful images to incorporate into a craft project. With the ever-shortening days of autumn and few daylight hours available, a luminary is a wonderful project to help extend the twilight hours just a little bit longer while adding a colorful glow to a window or the entrance to your home. With the use of a safe alternative light source, your child can have fun making and enjoying this easy seasonal craft project.

The following instructions are for one luminary but multiple luminaries are a great decorative touch that announces to everyone that the cool days of autumn are here.

For each luminary you will need:

  • 1 brown paper lunch bag (white or colored craft bags with a waxy coating may also be used and are available at craft stores or in craft departments).
  • Sand or cat litter (about 1-1/2 cups per bag)
  • Safety scissors
  • Child-safe markers
  • Fall stencils (if desired)
  • Orange tissue paper
  • Glue or a glue stick
  • Newspaper
  • Battery operated tea light or votive

FunLet your child choose the decoration for his or her luminary. Typical options for fall may include a leaf design or a jack-o-lantern face. Using a marker, let your child draw his or her design on the outside of the bag. If you happen to have holiday stencils or cookie cutters, they are great guides for the design. When the design is complete on the front of the bag, turn the bag over and make a similar design on the back of the bag. When both sides are complete, have your child cut out the leaf or jack-o-lantern face pieces using safety scissors. You may need to start the cutting process since you won't be cutting into the bag from an edge. Keep the cutout pieces handy (they will be used as a guide for cutting tissue paper to glue over the openings in the paper bag).

Choose colored tissue paper that will go with the luminary design (orange is a good choice for a jack-o-lantern or a leaf design). Using the cutout pieces as a guide, Cut a piece of tissue paper roughly inch larger than each of the cutouts you have made into the bag. Open the bag and place it design side down on a sheet of newspaper. Place a small amount of glue around the cutout design on the inside of the bag. Then place the piece of cut tissue paper over the open area and press down lightly to make contact with the glue. Do the same for the design area on the back of the bag. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly. Once the glue is dry, expand the bag and fold down the top inch of the bag toward the inside. This will give the bag a clean look and helps keep the bag square. Pour approximately 1 inch of sand or cat litter into the bag (this will help keep it stable if it is placed outdoors.

Insert a battery-operated tea light or votive into the center of the bag, turn it on, turn off the lights, and watch the luminary come to life! By using a battery-operated light source, you don't have to worry about the potential fire hazard associated with traditional luminaries.

Luminaries can be made for any holiday or special occasion and are an easy and fun way to decorate steps and walkways. Don't be afraid to experiment and be creative with designs and colors. Bags and tissue paper are inexpensive so mistakes are not costly.

So the next time you're looking for a project to pass the hours with your child, hopefully a light bulb will go off and you'll add a luminary to your home!

Articles are provided for the general interest of our readers. Gerber Life Insurance is not responsible for any content and recommends that you consult the appropriate professional with any questions or concerns you may have concerning any financial or health related issues.

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