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Lacy Luminarias

Martha Stewart Weddings, Volume 22 2002

Give the decorations at your wedding reception the romantic look of lace. The intricate patterns shining through these luminarias (paper-bag lanterns illuminated by votive candles) are courtesy of doilies glued inside. Place a grouping of the lanterns in different sizes on the guest-book table or dinner tables for a beautiful, glowing display. We chose ivory paper bags for an understated look, but you can use thin paper bags in any light color. Set the candles in heavy-glass votive holders to help anchor the bags.

Tools and Materials
Light-colored paper lunch bags in various sizes
Scalloped rotary cutter
12-inch gold-colored doilies (white ones won't show through as well)
Utility knife
Glue stick or Xyron sticker-making machine
Votive candles in glass holders
Utility lighter

Luminarias How-To
1. Lay each bag flat; use a ruler to guide the scalloped rotary cutter as you cut a new top edge 1 inch below the bag's original edge.

2. To cut doilies to fit the bag, lay a bag flat on the work surface. Lay a doily on the bag, and determine where to cut in order to create a pleasing design. Cut straight lines with a ruler and a utility knife; use scissors to snip along curves. The final size of the doily should be 1/8 inch narrower than the width of the bag so the doily will lay flat inside.

3. Coat the gold side of the doily generously with glue from the glue stick, or coat it with self-adhesive using the Xyron machine. Attach doily to the inside of the front of the bag, positioning it as desired. After gluing, close the bag, and run your hand firmly over the design to seal. Open the bag, and let dry at least 1 hour.

4. Set the bag in desired location, and then put the votive candle, in its holder, inside. Light the wick once the candle holder has been securely placed; do not carry the lit luminaria.

Comments (13)

  • rollerchickbp 28 Feb, 2012

    Does anyone actually sell these or know where I can purchase anything similar? x

  • nt2swt67 7 Jul, 2010

    Jonell have you tried Party City or a party supply store? I know our party city has the bags in different sizes and colors you can also try they have a variety of party supplies.

  • melissacoulter 17 Aug, 2009

    Hope this isn't a double apologies, in advance, if it is.

    Jonell and Irish mom...this will solve both of your issues

  • jonell 16 Jun, 2009

    Hello! Does anyone know where I can find the different size bags. Rather than only using the standard lunch bag size, I'd like to do as the illustrations shows.

  • irishmom214 30 Mar, 2009

    you can also get doilies at for a very good price, still looking for ivory bags, can find white or the typical brown.

  • kirby524 27 Feb, 2009

    The doilies I found on are perfect for this project. They're completely lacy and don't have the solid center section like the ones used for food presentation.

  • Home4TheHolidays 27 Jan, 2009

    You can purchase doillies at any craft store, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc. Also, the idea of using fake flickering candles are great when children will be around to prevent any accidents.

  • gleestormont 21 Aug, 2008

    I just had a mid-summer night's gleam party where everyone was instructed to bring a home made luminaria. This would be great for next year. We had so much fun, everyone was soooo creative!

  • EmilyHiggins 16 Apr, 2008

    Does anyone know where the doilies came from?

  • KarenZachary 6 Apr, 2008

    If you're in a windy area, or at a venue that doesn't allow candles, this is one of those places where you could use those flickering fake candles and no one would ever know. Except me, and I'm not telling. ;)

  • lhendri479 17 Jan, 2008

    I have been making luminaries for all occasions for a long time. I do NOT use sand. The first and only time I did, the bottom of the bag dropped out !! I now use Kitty Litter. This was suggested to my by a lady who was 90 years old and it has always worked like a charm. In this case - 'With age comes wisdom' . for this great lady.

  • Starchild 26 Dec, 2007

    These would look great in different sizes and placed around the room. I want to use them at my reception to decorate the buffet table, the bar, the guest-book table... how simple yet elegant!

  • BlueDaisy001 24 Nov, 2007

    Any luminaria being used outdoors or in high traffic areas should be weighed down with a couple inches of sand in the bottom of the bag. Nestle the glass votive in the sand to minimize the risk of the candle tipping over. Also be sure to check with your venue for your event to ensure they will allow luminarias in the building. Most have strict fire code restrictions that may put them on the back burner.