Add Ambience to Your Patio or Walkway

Now that it’s spring, we’re all looking to clean up and get rid of some of the unused items in our homes. This April, the Museum will be collecting electronic devices from the community to recycle – but what about everything else?

If your family is constantly emptying milk cartons and you wish you didn’t have to just chuck the empties, take heart. Here’s a fun family recycle project that can anyone can enjoy - from young children to adults.

Think quirky and fun for your design phase as you create milk carton lanterns that resemble buildings. I did mine in two stages so the paint would dry. As a not-so-skilled crafter, I used about half-hour total per lantern, excluding time for paint to dry. One of the joys of these is that you can create something fun, regardless of skill level (insert my sigh of relief here). Sharp cutting objects are involved, so make sure to include appropriate adult participation.

Here’s what you need:

  • Empty milk cartons – rinsed out and dry. I used 3, but you can do as many or as few as you like.
  • Marker
  • Razor blade or sharp cutting tool
  • Battery powered tea candle – 1 for each carton.

Alternative: if you want to get more creative turn this into a painting project with acrylic paint or markers.

How-to Steps:

1. Find open space for the project cover it to protect surfaces.

2. Envisioning a series of houses, I only painted the roof portion and left it to dry.

3. The next evening, I used a marker to outline various shingles on each roof.

4. I also used the marker to outline doors and windows. (Others who have done this with real tea candles advise making large openings. I followed that advice, even though there would be no open flame in my lanterns.)

5. Safely cut the doors and windows. If children are young, this is definitely a project for the adult and kids can give advice. Once each house takes shape, use the marker to strengthen lines around the windows.

6. When it gets dark turn on your battery powered tea light and insert it inside the lantern. If you are using these outdoors, you may also fill the bottom with sand or stones to help keep lanterns upright.