Luminarias Light Up your Holiday Décor
Decorating the outside of your home for the holidays can turn into an expensive venture if you’re not careful. But it doesn’t have to be. A popular and simple way to bring a warm glow to the outside of your home during the holidays is to decorate using luminarias along the pathways, sidewalks and driveway of your home.
A luminaria is a votive candle set inside a small decorative paper bag weighted with sand. The bags are usually colored and often perforated with designs through which the candle inside shows as bright pinpricks of light. The custom of luminarias comes from Mexico and was practiced in New Mexico for many years before spreading throughout the United States. It derives from a similar holiday custom of the Pueblo peoples in New Mexico. On Christmas Eve they build a bonfire, called a luminaria, outside each house.
Take a look around your home and decide where you want your luminarias to be located. Measure the length of that pathway or sidewalk, and then double it as you’ll want both sides of the path to be lit. Calculate how many luminaria bags you’ll need. Plan on placing them approximately nine inches to two feet apart; the closer together you place them, the more bags and votive candles you’ll need and the more light they’ll produce.
You can purchase red and green lunch-sized bags if you’d like, or you can use brown lunch bags. The regular brown lunch bags are a bit more transparent and will allow a bit more light to shine through.
If you’re feeling creative, you can stencil a design on the side of each of them that faces the pathway, and cut them out. Angels and stars are popular and actually quite simple to design. . Stencils are available at crafts stores or in the school and office supply aisle of discount stores. You might also find something in your home that you can trace and make a pattern from.
Purchase enough sand to put about two cups per bag. You might want to consider purchasing candle votives in short glass candle holders so the flame is contained. It’s important to keep safety your top priority when using luminarias to decorate with. Make sure you set the candle down deep enough in the sand that it is secure. They work best in dryer climates, which makes it imperative that you keep a close eye on them and make sure they don’t tip over and are kept away from debris that can easily catch fire. Don’t use them on breezy nights, and if the snow or rain starts to fall, try to get them inside as soon as possible so they aren’t ruined.
Luminarias add a nice, soft glow to the outdoor area of your home and give it warmth. They’re a wonderful touch for a Christmas open house or party, and are inexpensive and easy to make. If you choose to use the colored bags and cut stencils into the sides, they also light up the indoor areas of your home nicely. Just make sure they’re placed in areas where small, curious hands or animals can’t accidentally knock them over. You can purchase scented votive candles such as cinnamon or sugar cookie, which would add another dimension to your holiday decorating scheme.
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