If you’re like me, you wish Christmas were year-round. Not because you’re terribly religious or because you get gifts (well, there is that), but rather, it gives you an excuse to have pretty lights twinkling in your living room.
Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for December 25. We can put up lights and keep them up 365 days a year! But instead of hanging an unadorned string of lights, let’s get creative—really, really creative.
First, the lights
Every good DIY project starts with strong materials. White Wire String Lights ($5.48 at Home Depot) are easy to decorate with and won’t clash too much with the rest of your decor.
Or go for the more traditional Christmas lights with green wire, such as these Warm White LED Dome String Lights ($9.99 at Target).
Feeling high-tech? Take a chance on these battery-operated Martha Stewart Living LED White Lights ($14.98 for a bundle of two at Home Depot), which come with boxes that let you control the lights with a timer and put them on phasing or flashing modes.
Now get cracking on some projects to put those lights in.
Jars, bottles and cups
Lights look surprisingly elegant when placed in Mason jars (12-pack for $21.95 at Amazon). Pick up a Mason Jar Hanging Wire Lantern ($38–$70 at Food52) or Mason Jar Lantern Hangers (starting at $19 at Etsy) and string ’em up. Look at that. You didn’t even have to buy something expensive from Crate & Barrel.
I know you’ve got wine bottles lying around your house (c’mon, admit it). Get one, drill a hole in it (per instructions from Bob Vila) and place lights inside. Whoa, instant new lamp!
You can also take a humble old Dixie Cup (3 packs of 54 cups for $7.74 at Amazon), dress it up with cool paper, poke a hole in the cup and run lights through it. Over at Mustang News, columnist Corrina Powell covered her Dixie Cups in map wrapping paper ($3.95 at Paper Source), but get creative with whatever pattern strikes your fancy.
Balls and globes
Globes are always popular string-lights decor. There are several different looks you can try.
Follow Crafty Nest’s lead and use hemp string or twine to make your own woven sphere lamp like West Elm’s. Get a bouncy ball, Aleene’s Clear Gel Tacky Glue ($1.97 at Amazon) and some twine ($10.99 at eCanyons). Glue the twine around the ball, and when it’s completely dry, pop that ball. It takes a little patience, but the result is very cool.
For a cute, whimsical spin on the patio light, get Ping-Pong balls ($7.95 at Amazon), a multicolor string of LED lights, and follow the instructions detailed over at Say Yes. Now your backyard looks like it belongs somewhere in the Hollywood Hills.
Cupcakes and flowers
You can repurpose egg cartons and cupcake liners to make a string of lights so adorable that your kids will pale in comparison.
DIY site Instructables’ Egg Carton Flower Lights project requires you to be a bit creative and have a couple hours to spare. You do. Simply cut up the cartons, paint them using Craft Smart Acrylic Paint (33 cents at Michaels), and string a hole in them for your light. Flowers are now glowing above your head.
Or you can bust out some cupcake liners and make pretty, pretty flowers, too. Over at Oh Happy Day!, blogger Steph Hung details how to make delicate flowers out of cupcake liners. You don’t need to do much: Just fold your cupcake liners in half three or four times and make cuts on the top. When you’re done, cut an X in the cupcake papers with an X-Acto knife and pop the head of the light bulbs through them. You can layer the papers to give the impression of leaves and combine different colors. Ridiculously cute.
Too lazy to cut things and make flowers? Yeah, me too. Regular old cupcake liners work, too. The trick with these is to get fancy or more-decorative liners and let them do all the hard work. That’s the advice by Meg at Happy Looks Good On You. She used a set of liners from Ikea, but you can use anything you want. I like the options at Bake It Pretty, especially these Pumpkin Orange Polka Dot Liners (50-pack for $4 at Bake It Pretty).