Homemade Lighting Ideas

The best backyard parties continue well after dark in Gig Harbor. Illuminate your post-sunset soiree with these three homemade outdoor lighting ideas.

String Sphere Party Lights

Jazz up a strand of outdoor twinkle lights with colorful string spheres, choosing string colors that suit the occasion, such as red, white and blue for the 4th of July. Mix up a batch of two parts school glue to one part water as a hardener for the string spheres. To create the spheres, inflate round balloons to 5" diameter or less and tie them closed. Coat the balloons in petroleum jelly, then wrap each one in string dipped in the glue mixture. Wind the twine so it crosses itself from different angles each time. Set the coated balloons to harden atop plastic cups or a sheet of wax paper. Pop the balloons after the string is hard, then insert one light from your light strand through each sphere. Hold the spheres in place with a piece of fishing line.

Jars of Light

Transform Mason jars, or any unlabeled jars that you find attractive, into ambient backyard lighting to hang from tree limbs, a pergola or porch and fence railings. Bend a length of 14-gauge wire into an upside-down U shape to make a handle to hang the jar, then use needle-nose pliers to bend the ends of the wire into small loops. Secure the handle to the jar by running another length of wire through one of the loops, around the threads of the jar, then through the other wire loop, winding until the wires are snugly in place against the jar.

Fill the bottom of each jar with ½” or so of clean sand or aquarium gravel, add a tea light candle, then hang the jars from hooks, chains or rope in the desired locations. Use a candle lighter to light the wicks.

For a beach-inspired effect, place a shallow layer of sand or seashells in each jar, fill the jar halfway with water, then add a floating candle instead of a tea light.

Ambient Upcycled Orbs

Create a high-end lighting look on the cheap with these upcycled orbs of light. The secret: repurposed white glass ceiling shades from a thrift store or yard sale, plus a string of outdoor lights. Look for shades that are nearly spherical or at least somewhat round in shape – the type that look more like upturned bowls than curved plates. Stuff most of the light strand inside the shade, then set the shade -open-end down ¬– on the ground in a desired location, such as at the base of a tree or in a flower bed. Run an outdoor-rated extension cord to the string of lights, then hide the cord under a thin layer of dirt or mulch. Plug in the lights after dark to add ambiance.

A small battery-operated lantern can be used in place of electric lighting within each orb.

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