Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Decorating With Ice Luminaries

Photo from
Ice luminaries are one of the simplest decorations to assemble, yet pack a big punch in display. The breathtaking scene of a drive or walkway lined with fire and ice on a cold winter's night sets the stage for the making of holiday memories. Carry the theme indoors and any celebration may be lit up with the merry flickering of candlelight on glistening ice.

For outdoors, you will want to use buckets or other large containers for forms in order to make them more visible from afar. First, freeze about four inches of water in the larger vessel to create a bottom for the luminary. Then, place a smaller bucket or other container such as a coffee can inside the bucket on top of the ice layer. Fill the space between the bucket and can with water up to the rim of whichever container is shorter. Freeze indoors or outdoors (if it is cold enough), then set the bucket in a sink or tub of warm water to loosen the ice and remove it from the bucket. Next, fill the coffee can or other smaller container with warm water to help loosen it from the ice surrounding it. Once the ice luminary is removed from its forms, fill the bottom with a few inches of sand and place a pillar candle in the center. Light the candle and place the luminaries along your driveway, walkway, or simply one on each side of the front steps. What a stunning welcome!

Photo from
Amy Turn Sharp

For indoor displays, smaller luminaries may be created using any flexible containers, a smaller one inside the larger one with ample room between the sides of the two. You may try a quart-size milk carton inside a 2-quart milk carton or 1-liter soda bottles inside 2-liter soda bottles, each with the tops cut off. Either way, the steps are nearly the same as for the outdoor luminaries. However, you may add greenery, flowers, cranberries, or anything else which suits your decorating fancy, between the forms before adding the water. Loosen the ice from the soda bottle forms with warm water or peel the milk cartons away from the ice. Fill with a little sand, if you wish, and insert a candle which fits the inside of the luminary. You may also simply place a pillar candle inside a 2-quart milk carton, fill the empty space with the decorations, and fill with water being careful not to cover the candle. Once your luminary is frozen and free of the forms, set it on a tray with sides high enough to hold an inch or two of melted ice.

Picture from

Luminaries with two or three pillar candles of differing heights with red roses in the ice and some greenery, pine cones, and holly around the base creates a stunning holiday display. Light the candles and listen for the ooh's and aah's of your guests.