Halloween Votive Luminaria Lanterns

Use paper bags to create haunting Halloween votive luminaria lanterns to send a scary message to arriving trick-or-treaters.

Luminarias have been used for centuries to light paths and outdoor spaces, and their use has certainly become part of Halloween. Votive luminaria lanterns are a great way to illuminate sidewalks, and you can use them to spell out haunting messages for arriving trick-or-treaters. This simple scare tactic is simple to create and uses ordinary materials.

To make these luminaria lanterns, you’ll need two paper bags of the same size. To make our Halloween votive luminaria lanterns, we used ordinary brown paper bags, but colored bags in Halloween shades can be substituted. These lanterns can also be used year to year.

Our Halloween votive luminaria lanterns spell out a message for trick-or-treaters, but you can also cut designs into paper bags. Use typography books or art books for inspiration, then photocopy desired images and letters. For safety, use votive candles in candle holders to illuminate the lanterns. If high winds threaten, place some sand inside resealable plastic bags and place the bags of sand in the bottom of the luminaria bags. This extra weight will prevent the bags from toppling in high winds.


Making Halloween Votive Luminaria Lanterns


  • Paper bags
  • Stencils
  • Pencil
  • Cardboard
  • Utility or craft knife
  • Glue stick
  • Votive candles in candle holders
  • Lighter


  1. Trace desired letters, phrases or designs from stencil patterns with a pencil onto the flat side of a paper bag.
  2. Insert a piece of cardboard in between the two sides of the bag to avoid cutting through both sides. Using a utility or craft knife, cut out letters or designs from the bag. Do not discard cutout centers from letters containing closed shapes, such as A and O.
  3. Fold the top edge of a second paper bag over twice. Trim the top of the stencil bag so that it is somewhat shorter than the bag with the folded edge.
  4. Using a glue stick, apply glue around the edges of the letters on the inside of the stencil bag. Place the bag with the folded edge inside the stencil bag. Tuck the stencil bag under the folded edge of the second bag. Gently press both bags together; replace any reserved cutout centers from letters and glue cutouts to inside bag.
  5. To illuminate luminaria bags, place a votive candle inside a candle holder and place it halfway down inside bag. Using a lighter, light the candle and carefully lower the candle holder down to the bottom of the bag.

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