Make a Holiday Luminaria and Luminaria Light Display

By The SideWalk
nicolicreer/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

It isn't difficult to create a beautiful seasonal display with luminarias. Luminarias, or farolitos, are simple to make and create a southwestern holiday display that brightens any home.

How to Make a Luminaria Display

Luminarias are easy to make and should take less than 1 minute per luminaria, or 15-20 minutes for an entire luminaria display.

What You Need:

  • Paper lunch bags
  • Dirt or sand
  • Votive candles
  • Long-nosed lighter
  • Wall or fence or walkway for the display
  • Camera for taking pictures!

Here's How:

  1. Open a brown paper lunch bag and fold down the top inch to create a lip at the top of the bag.
  2. Put enough sand or dirt in the bottom of the bag to keep a votive candle upright, about 1 cm deep.
  3. Place a votive candle in the bottom center of each bag. The candle should be about 3 inches in height so that it can burn through most of the night.
  4. To make an entire display of paper bag luminarias, decide where to put your line of lights. Pathways, walls and fences work well to show off your display.
  5. Once you have decided where to put your display, estimate enough bags to put a paper bag lantern every 15-24 inches.
  1. Take the filled bags you have made and place them every 15-24 inches along your chosen driveways, pathways and walls around your home.
  2. At dusk, use a fireplace starting lighter (long nosed) to start the candles.
  3. Enjoy your holiday luminaria display!


  1. In Albuquerque, free and public sand piles appear around town for the displays. Check with your neighborhood association to see about availability in your area.
  2. Votive lights are sold by the box in Albuquerque stores during the holiday season. Don't wait until the last minute to buy, as they are often sold out by Christmas Eve.
  3. Reuse your luminaria dirt or sand for your garden area.