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Luminaria Lights for Christmas Eve

Luminaria Lights are simple and inexpensive to make and provide lovely and sentimental outdoor Christmas Eve decorations. Lining your walkway or driveway with paper bag candle luminaries makes a stunning and memorable holiday light display! 

white paper luminaria light bags filled with sand and candles lit up and placed on a stone wall

Be sure to check out the DIY Christmas light projects that my friends Kippi, Jayne and Janet created at the end of this post!

Inspiration for Christmas Eve Luminaria Lights

In the small village where I grew up, candles in paper bags on Christmas Eve are a tradition. Every year as we drive into town for the Christmas Eve church service, there are hundreds of luminaria lights lining the streets. It is magical to see them all aglow and it makes the occasion extra special. I still look forward to seeing them every year on Christmas Eve!

white paper luminaria light bags filled with sand and candles lit up and placed on a stone wall

Luminaria Lights Supply List

supplies to make luminaria lights, including a box of 72 white candles, bowls of sand and a garden trowel and a bag of 50 white paper lunch bags
  • white paper lunch bags (50 bags are less than $2 at Walmart)
  • small taper candles (I found a box of 75 candles for only $7 in the Kosher section of the grocery store)
  • sand, kitty litter or crushed rock

How to Make Christmas Luminary Bags

folding over the top of a white paper lunch bag twice to form a cuff
white paper lunch bag with a folded cuff on top

Step 1.

Fold over the top of the bag (about and inch and a half) twice to form a cuff.

pouring sand into a cuffed white paper lunch bag with a garden trowel

Step 2.

Pour about 3 inches of sand into each bag.

placing a white candle into a white cuffed paper lunch bag filled with sand

Step 3.

Place a candle into the bag.

luminaria light consisting of a cuffed white paper lunch bag filled with sand and a white candle nestled inside

That’s it! You’re ready to light and display your luminaria Christmas lights.

black and tan cat on a stone wall lined with luminaria lights

I brought my luminaria lights over to my friend’s house at dusk. I wanted to set them up on the stone wall outside her home. Her cat, Toofie, was very curious about what we were doing!

white paper luminaria light bags filled with sand and candles lit up and placed on a stone wall

Aren’t they pretty? Imagine how amazing hundreds of them look!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of luminaries?

In the early days, Roman Catholics believed that the lights would guide the spirit of the Christ child to people’s homes at Christmas. Today, luminaries are seen as another type of Christmas light…decorative and beautiful all lit up at night.

What is the meaning of luminaries at Christmas?

Luminaria, also known as farolito, is a small paper lantern that usually consists of a brown or white paper bag filled with sand that has a candle nestled inside. They are most common in the Southwestern United States during Christmas time and especially on Christmas Eve. They are also popular in Hispanic culture.

More Christmas DIY Projects

chalkboard serving tray with snowflakes holding mulled cider, eggnog and Christmas cookies

Upcycled Thrift Store Holiday Chalk Board Serving Tray

vintage picnic basket filled with 4 enamelware mugs, hot cocoa mix, jars of marshmallows and candy canes, a plaid throw and plate of Christmas cookies

Vintage Style Hot Cocoa Gift Basket

star ornament made from twigs, pinecones, bits of faux evergreen and faux snow.

Wooden Christmas Star Ornament Craft

More Christmas Lighting Ideas

I love how Kippi from Kippi at Home decorated her window boxes for Christmas. The addition of the faux outdoor candle and string of white lights makes it glow at night!

Jayne from Chalking Up Success made this amazing Wooden Triangle Christmas Tree. Add a star garland and twinkle lights and you have a gorgeous lighted tree to display inside or out!

I’m obsessed with these frosted Christmas Mason Jar Luminaries made by Janet from A Life of Balance. She made them with her Cricut, and they can be used inside or outside!

I hope you found some ideas about luminaria lights and other ways to create Christmas lighting this year.

Happy Holidays!


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  1. Hope you had a most merry Christmas! I also love luminaries, but this year we skipped doing it because of so much rain Christmas Eve.

    1. Hope you had a Merry Christmas too, Debbee! We actually had a white Christmas this year, so the luminaries looked amazing 🙂

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Cindy. Yes, they make quite a statement in large numbers! Merry Christmas to you!

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