How to Make Christmas Luminaries

A Neighborhood Tradition

When we moved into our neighborhood 7 years ago, we knew it was a great spot, and then Christmas Eve came and we were totally sold. A few days earlier, we had gotten a garbage sack of sand, bags and candles on our doorstep as a “neighbor gift” from a few families. I almost threw it away, thinking my kids had started another strange collection. Then I read the attached note detailing how to make Christmas luminaries and got curious. That night, before we headed to a family Christmas Eve dinner, we set out our bags as instructed and asked the neighbors to light the candles at the right time since we would be gone.

As we drove into our community after an evening away, I had to catch my breathe. It was so beautiful! Over 100 houses and all the sidewalks were lit with the paper luminaries, making our homecoming on Christmas Eve quiet and magical. We drove around the whole neighborhood, listening to soft Christmas music and just taking it all in. My eyes brimmed with tears of gratitude for my little family and the great community we are a part of. It is now one of my favorite favorite Christmas traditions. I can’t wait for that same moment this year!

How to Make Christmas Luminaries for the Whole Neighborhood

My neighbors were kind enough to teach me how to make Christmas luminaries and share all the tips just in case you want to start this tradition in your own neck of the woods!

Our neighborhood has 97 homes. Your numbers will depend on how big your lots are, number of driveways, and the shape of corner lots. These numbers should give you a good estimate to use as a starting place.

We needed 1170 bags: 10 for 77 non-corner homes and 20 for for the 20 corner homes.

We get the #8 white bags from Carpenter Paper and the 10 hour votive candles from The sand is bought locally from Staker Parson on Beck Street. They bought 1/4 of a cubic yard.

These options from Amazon also look like a great place to start.

White Paper Bags Heavy Duty ($55 for 500 bags)

10 Hour Votive Candles ($50 for 144 candles)

Electric Tea Lights ($27 for 100 if you prefer no flame or live in a wet climate)

Sand or gravel is best purchased locally. You just need something to keep the bag from flying away.

More Ways to Make the Christmas Season Special

We loved learning how to make luminaries and joining our new neighborhood in this tradition! We also love doing the 12 days of Christmas for neighbors and other simple, inexpensive traditions for other holidays. What traditions does your family love?