Chanukah: Tin Can Luminaries Craft Project

I saw this idea on the interwebs somewhere about making luminaries out of tin cans and I thought how perfect that would be for a Chanukah craft project. This Chanukah craft requires very little skill and I made mine out of items I had laying around the house.

You will need:

  • Tin cans, empty and clean
  • Paint (spray paint for metal preferrably)
  • A small nail
  • A hammer
  • Rags or kitchen towels
  • Tea lights (1 for each luminary)
Tin Can Luminaries Supplies
I used some old paint I had in the garage that was left over from painting my baby boy’s room. Spray paint formulated for metal would have been ideal, but I was feeling cheap since this was my first time making this project. Next time, I will definitely stump up for the spray paint.
Tin Can Luminaries - Can Cradle
The first step is to plan your design using the lines in the can. You can draw your design on the can first, but I just eyeballed it. Then, create a bed for your tin can with the towels. I used my kitchen towels. The bed will keep your can from slipping while you hammer it and will save the surface under it.
Tin Can Luminaries - First Hole
With the can firmly in place and your design roughly planned, put the nail up to the can and hammer it. I hit the nail softly at first until there is an indentation and then start giving the nail a good whack. The tin is very malleable and the nail goes in after a few hits. Wiggle the nail out but be careful not to widen the hole too much. You want a nicely shaped, small hole.
Tin Can Luminaries - Painted
With the holes completed, paint the can. I dunked my can in the pot of paint, but if you have spray paint, place the can outside in an open area, making sure to cover the surface. Don’t wear anything nice either, paint always gets somewhere you don’t want it.

Chanukah Luminaries

And voila! With the candle inside, the luminary is complete. Because there is a hammer and nail, this craft project is for big kids only. The Star of David is the easiest motif to do, but you can also do a menorah or a dreidel (without the letters unless you are a true master). And don’t just restrict yourself to blue…gold would be amazing too.



  • Cute idea, a little tip I learned doing similar craft a couple years back on coffee can luminaries for Halloween was to fill the can(s) with water and freeze, then do the hammering (less denting of the can LOL). Will give the link to your page for Chanukah craft ideas in our newsletter.

    • Great tip. I also found that using tin cans that had the lift off top (like fruit cocktail) were stronger than ones where you had to use a can opener.

  • LOVE this idea! I want to make some for my sukkah. Any tips on the magen david design? I’m afraid that without something to trace, mine will be misshaped or otherwise odd. Thanks!

    • These are definitely great in the sukkah too. I just eyeballed the star using the ribs on the can to keep the lines straight but you can easily do a Google Images search for Star of David to get a template to trace over. Just print the star, tape it to your can, and hammer away! The rest of the paper can just be torn off.

  • If one doesn’t like using nails, or you’re just terribly uncoordinated, you could get a small stencil from a home store like Michael’s and paint the design on. I use Etsy to get my smaller stencils, since it supports cottage industry, and those would work great, too. You could probably get some pretty detailed designs and paint them on even if you have shaky hands like me, because the stencil, when taped down well, is forgiving.

    • Yes, by using a stencil you could achieve a much more interesting design, but without the holes how would the light shine through?

  • No hammer? Use a small electric drill.

    The idea of freezing liquid in the can before making holes seems a good idea.

    If at first you don’t succeed, buy something. ;-)

    REMEMBER: NEVER leave a lighted candle alone … stay home and if going out, blow it out.

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