How to Make DIY Popcorn Tin Lanterns from Empty Tins

How to Make DIY Popcorn Tin Lanterns from Empty Tins

Feb 4th 2020

How to Make DIY Popcorn Tin Lanterns from Empty Tins

Tin Lanterns

Chase away the winter blues with punched tin art lanterns. You may have seen this DIY arts and crafts project made with coffee cans, but our one gallon (6.6875" x 7.25") and half gallon (3.3875" x 5.25") tins are even better because they come with handles. If you’re looking for smaller size tins, our one quart (4.0625" x 4.875") and half quart (3.5625" x 3.25") are great options as well. These tins are available in a variety of colors and designs for any occasion or to match any decor. Here's how you can make something amazing from empty tins.

DIY Supplies


All you need for this arts and crafts project is a hammer and a variety of nails and screws of different sizes. If you want to make your own designs, you can draw them out on paper and use a rubber band to wrap around your popcorn or cookie tins. You can also find designs online and print them. Another way to find unique designs is with stencils. Many of our tins already have designs printed right on them that you can outline with hole punches to make your lantern.


How to Punch Your Design

When you are punching your design, you need a sturdy surface to support your tin so you don't dent the surface. There are several methods for accomplishing this.

1. Use a Board

With this method, you secure a 1x4 board with clamps and use it to support your tin as you punch your holes. You want to make sure you are turning your tin so the hole you are punching is at the very top. If you are using a pattern, you can use a smaller nail to make light indentions into the tin over the top of the pattern and then remove the pattern and punch bigger holes where you see the indentions.

2. Use Ice

Another approach is to fill the tin with water and leave it in the freezer. Once the water is frozen solid, you can just use the hard ice as support for the empty tin while you punch your design. Just wipe away any frost so the surface of the tin is dry, then lay it on a towel folded over several times so there is thick padding for support. Then proceed to punch your design making sure that you turn your tin so that each hole is made at the very top. Please note steel tins can rust when exposed to moisture, so this method is not recommended if you plan on keeping your lantern long-term.

3. Use a Power Punch

A power punch works a lot like a stapler, so you will only be able to make holes in the top few inches of your tin, but the punches are much cleaner and bigger than you can make with a nail. You can also mix and match power-punch holes with nail holes.

Creative Ideas

Tall Round Tins

Now that you have the general idea of how to make your lantern from empty tins, you can start creating all kinds of designs for many occasions. For example, you could punch the word "Love" into our Red Solid Tall Round tin. You could punch an outline of the hearts printed on our Happy Hearts Tall Round tin for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner centerpiece. Our Flurries Tall Round tin is ideal for punching perfect snowflakes by following the design printed right on the tin. You could make an amazing lantern by tracing the swirls with punch holes on our Golden Swirls Tall Round tin. Our Flurries Tall Round tin would look amazing with a multitude of small holes in the background representing a shimmering field of stars.

                      Tall Round Tins

If you prefer to make your own designs, you can use our Gold Solid Tall Round tins, our Platinum Tall Round tins, our White Solid Tall Round, or even for smaller sizes our Blue Solid Tins and make any design you can imagine. Some shapes you could make are stars, flowers, hearts, leaves, or crescent moons. You could also make intricate geometric designs. Celebrate holidays by punching out pumpkins or candy canes. You can even paint the tin before you punch holes into it for an even more elaborate arts and crafts project.

Blue Solid Tins

Lighting Your Lanterns

Once you have your lanterns finished, it’s time to put some lights inside them. One way to do that is to use tea lights or votive candles. When using votive candles, you can use an empty tomato sauce can as a candle holder. Be sure to use long matches or a long-wand candle lighter to avoid scraping your skin on the burrs from the nail holes inside the tin.

DIY Tin Lanters

Another way to light your tins is with LED lights. If you use LED lights, you can leave the lid on. LED lights are available in both battery-powered and plug-in options. Many of them include a remote control that has various color changing settings. You can use LED lights made for Chinese paper lanterns and attach the LED to the lid so it is suspended in the middle of the tin. Another option for lighting your tin is with fairy lights. Fairy lights are strings of micro LED lights that give a soft glow. Fairly lights come in a variety of colors and are also available in both battery-powered and plug-in options.

Check Out Our Empty Tins for Your Arts and Crafts Ideas

We have a wide variety of solid-color and decorated popcorn and cookie tins in various sizes for any of your arts and crafts projects that involve empty tins. You can use the decorations on the tins for colorful designs or decorate them yourself before you punch holes to make your punched tin lanterns. Take a look at all of our amazing tins at Atlantic Can and see how they spark your creative imagination.