Recycle Tin Cans into Decorations

By Holly Giles | DIY

tin can craft activity

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Recycling tin cans into lanterns speaks pioneer to me! Our Prairie Life book club decided that the chapter on Christmas was their favorite. I can see Laura and Mary helping Ma make handmade ornaments and dressing up the ordinary into something beautiful. These recycling projects for tin cans can be done any time of the year. Use them as quick gifts for any occasion.

When given the opportunity, children can make special gifts for family and friends by using their hands to create.

This project is suitable for all ages. Using a hammer helps with hand and eye coordination and it’s fun!

Here is what you will need:

  • several tin cans
  • large nail
  • hammer
  • wire
  • spray paint, silver
  • tealights

how to make a lantern from a tin can

First, using a permanent marker, dot a pattern on your can. The dots are where you will punch holes. Next, fill the cans with water and freeze them. This step is VERY important. Freezing them with water makes hammering a nail into the can much easier. The tin cans will get misshapen on the bottom but we will fix it. Freezing the tin cans will take overnight.

Now, punch out all the dots with a hammer and nail. Remember to punch a hole on each side of the can for the wire hanger. Then dry off the can and spray it silver if desired or leave it plain. Add wire and make a handle. Finally, put a tealight inside. We use battery-operated candles for a safe, no-mess option.

The tin can lantern is the perfect holder for a bag of cookies or treats to give as a dual-purpose gift. We like to line them up outside on a cool night and enjoy the glow.


Watch our Tutorial video on making lanterns

Paper Covered Cans

how to make a lantern from tin cans

Using paper, ribbon, and spray paint is another option to turn tin cans into useful gifts for any occasion. We have made pencil holders, crayon holders, and holders for trinkets and food gifts. The options are wide open with any supplies you have on hand. A glue gun is the best way to secure items to the can.

watch our video on making paper crafts


how to make a lantern from tin cans

Recycled glass bottles work for many craft projects. These bottles are miniature wine bottles. I used chalk paint and an outline of a sticker and sprayed the bottles with a permanent label. I have used them to serve lemonade, added flowers to a table, and put flavored sugars or hot chocolate powder as gifts.

how to make lanterns with tin cans




About the Author

Holly Giles is a wife, mother, and storyteller. As an author and Florida Master Naturalist, she writes about heritage homemaking skills, motherhood, and why Florida offers the best hidden natural gems to explore as a family.