Tuesday, September 2, 2014

End of Summer Luminaries

Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog

I hope you all had a wonderful Labor Day weekend! We were in Nebraska visiting family and spent several nights out on my mom’s front porch, enjoying the sounds of crickets and the cool air that carried a hint of fall. These simple paper luminaries are the perfect end-of-summer project to add a warm glow to your porch as the sun sets earlier each night. 

Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog

If you are not familiar with luminaries, they are just paper bags with a candle set inside and some holes cut out to let light filter through. For these luminaries, I used the same Martha Stewart paper punch that I shared last week. I can’t get enough of this intricate pattern, and it created the perfect opening to let light through. 

Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog

I love when experimenting with a craft leads to unexpected outcome. After punching the design on the front of the bag, when I opened the bag I discovered the punch had also created an additional cool design on the sides! Yay for accidents that actually work in your favor!

Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog

The best part? You can use any number of paper punches to make these - what about this jack-o-lantern for Halloween? Here's what else you'll need:

Supplies for Paper Punch Luminaries



  • Thin paper bags
    • You can use basic brown lunch bags, but I chose colored favor bags (look in the party aisle!) as they provided a nice contrast with the blue on the outside and the white on the inside.
    • Whatever bag you use, make sure it is nice and thin so that the punch can go through it
  • Martha Stewart Cut and Fold Abstract Rose Punch (available in stores later this month!)
  • Edging scissors
  • LED battery powered pillar candles
    • You could also use real votives by first pouring some sand on the bottom of the bag and then placing them in the middle


Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog


How to Make Paper Punch Luminaries


1. Lay a bag flat and position your punch toward the upper center portion of the bag. Start punching out the design. Follow the directions provided with the punch or see more step-by-step photos in this tutorial.

Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog

2. Once the design has been punched, fold back the design per the instructions here.

Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog

Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog

3. If you want, use a pair of edging scissors to give a decorative top to the bag.

Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog

4. Open the bag and insert an LED pillar candle

Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog

If you want, you can tape a piece of vellum to the inside of the bag to cover the opening and filter the light more, but I thought these worked great as is:

Paper Bag Luminaries - you can make beautiful designs in minutes simply by using a paper punch! || Design Improvised blog

These luminaries create such a warm glow and look so pretty lined up together along a porch railing, your sidewalk, or scattered about your patio. 

This is post is sponsored by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia as part of the #12MonthsofMartha program. All content and opinions are my own.

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