Made from upcycled materials and items you have on hand already, create these simple mason jar lanterns with your family. Give them as gifts or use them for holiday celebrations – the possibilities are endless!
If you’re interested in learning about more seasonal celebrations for your family, be sure to sign up to be notified when our next book, Homestead Holidays, is released! Filled with holidays, traditions, crafts, food and fun, we hope this book will be a great tool for growing your homestead family.
The Time of Year for Lanterns
Though Mason jar lanterns are appropriate any time of year, we make them for Martinmas and keep them out through Christmas. Martinmas is a Catholic celebration centered on the life of Martin of Tours. We’re not Catholic, but this holy day is well worth noting if you’d like to take a moment with your family to focus on the light that can be found in the darkest of times.
The story goes that Martin the soldier came upon a beggar in the deep cold of winter with very little to protect himself from the elements. Without hesitation, Martin jumped off his steed, used his sword to cut his own cloak in two and shared it with the beggar.
Martin went on to become a priest, and the patron saint of beggars everywhere. This year, we told the story with these wonderful wooden figures we found on Esty. I love splurged on these for my birthday – I’m a sucker for these wooden Waldorf toys.Why is this story important? Because you and I have so many opportunities to “cut our cloaks in two” and serve the people in need around us every day. Serving in our communities is vital to their success and our personal growth.
The word is dark and full of turmoil; we can be bearers of light and bring peace to those around us. Simple acts of quiet service can make all the difference.
Mason Jar Lanterns Remind Us
Our Mason jar lanterns are usually very small and plain, but their effect is lovely. At our Martinmas celebration, every child creates their own lantern and then carries it out into the dark of night for a scripture scavenger hunt and a bonfire. Watching the small, colored lights of the Mason jar lanterns bobbing through the pitch, black night is always my absolute favorite part of the evening.
The kids have no idea how much it inspires me to see their lights, weaving and racing against the dark, as they make their way back to the house. Isn’t that really what we’re all trying to do in this life? Share what little light we have, hoping it will be enough to see our own path and help another, as we make our way back Home?
To help us share a little light with those in need, we usually host a food or donation drive on Martinmas, too. We always invite friends to join us in our celebration and they’re always happy to bring a few donations along. We gather up items over the rest of November and into December, and then box them up to donate to local shelters and food pantries. It’s uncomplicated, but so rewarding!
This is just one of the several activities in which we engage to prepare for this autumn season. For more ideas, be sure to check out fun resources for moms and kids at Rooted Childhood below.
How to Make a Mason Jar Lantern
This is so super simple that even I can do it.
- Colored tissue paper
- Mason jar in any size – we prefer half or full pints since small children have a hard time with the quart jars
- Battery operated tea lights or small candles (with supervision)
- Glue sticks
- Mason jar rings – you don’t need the seals, just the ring to fit over the top
- Yarn or sturdy string.
How to Assemble the Mason Jar Lanterns:
- Wash the mason jars and match each one with a ring ahead of time.
- Put all craft materials on a table for the children to access freely.
- Children can cut out shapes from the tissue paper and/or simply layer different colors of tissue paper around the outside of their jar.
- It’s easiest to run the glue stick over the jar and then attach the tissue paper. Putting the glue on the tissue paper usually leads to ripping.
- The main thing is for the kids to have fun, so you can let them design freely. However, we have discovered that lighter colors work best – and only in one or two layers. If dark colors are used, it’s best to have them included over the top as cutouts. For example, a light blue background around the Mason jar with a dark blue moon cut out and placed over one section. The quiet light of a tea candle has a difficult time making it through layers and layers of dark colored tissue paper. However, it’s really most important that the children enjoy this project.
- It is not necessary to add tissue paper to either the bottom or the top of the Mason jar lantern.
Making the Handles for the Mason Jar Lantern
We tried many handles over the years, but the quickest and sturdiest seem to be these yarn handles secured to the Mason jar lantern with the canning ring.
- Cut a length of yarn about 18 inches long and fold it in half.
- Tie a square knot at each end – nothing fancy, just make a knot at each end of the yarn. This knot prevents the yarn handle from slipping through the Mason jar ring.
- String the handle through the center of the canning ring so that each end of the yarn is sticking out from under the ring. The loop of yarn forming the handle should be through the center of the canning ring. Place a finger over each knot to secure it in place with one hand, and twist the canning ring in place with the other hand. Tighten the ring well and pull up to use the yarn as a handle. The knots of yarn will be protruding slightly from just under the canning ring and that’s how it’s supposed to be to keep the handle secure. You did it correctly.
Giving Mason Jar Lanterns as Gifts
These are a great item for children to make as gifts because they work as night lights throughout the year. They’re also lovely as decorations. For more ideas on gifts kids can make this holiday season, read our article at Hobby Farms.
Here are five more gifts ideas kids can make – these ones are great for last minute! This comes from right here at Homestead Lady.
Also, you have to check out this fall leaf bunting tutorial from Homespun Seasonal Living! She shows you how to use real fall leaves and wax to make adorable decorations for your hearth or porch.
Here are 25 Fun Fall Crafts for the Whole Family from Rootsy – click here.
Also from Rootsy, here’s how to make Felted Acorns – I love these!
Get the E-Book!
This is one of my favorite times of year, I must admit. In honor of the season, I’d like to share with you our tribute to gratitude and abundant living, Five Kernels of Corn. I hope this e-book will be a useful resource to you this season, or any time of year.
Walk with the Pilgrims, you family and your friends through ten separate invitations to set specific goals and complete useful projects. Also included are six suggested service projects, from crafty to practical, that can easily be completed with your family – kids included! Also tossed in just for fun is a delectable, traditional recipe and a free downloadable template to make your holiday complete.
What about you? How do you celebrate light in the middle of winter? What homemade gifts do you have up your sleeve this year?