Good Holidays: DIY String Light Ornaments

by Kim Merrikin, Seattle Goodwill
December 13, 2015

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite parts of holiday décor is the lights. I love the candles at the table, the lights on the trees downtown, the fireworks on New Year’s Eve—pretty much any instance of twinkly light breaking through the wintery darkness.For this #GoodHolidays DIY project, my goal was to create something that would look wintery and luminous, and translate from Christmastime into New Year’s festivities easily—and the DIY String Light Ornaments below are the result. These ones are cool and silvery, but it all depends on how you want yours to turn out! You could use colored translucent ornaments, or rainbow lights, for a totally different take on the same project!

This project took about 30 minutes of active time, and about 12 hours of waiting-for-paint-to-dry time.

There are really only two things that you need for this project: a string of LED Christmas lights, and a set of translucent glass or plastic ornaments with an opening at the top.

Because I found clear glass ornaments at our Dearborn location, and I wanted a silvery theme, I opted to add some glitter spray paint and silver star-shaped confetti that I found at Goodwill Shoreline. The stars make little star shaped shadows when illuminated!

Note: Using LED lights is especially important if you are going to add paint/glitter/materials inside of the ornament because the LEDs don’t heat up like normal Christmas lights. LEDs also tend to have thinner cords so they fit in/out of the ornaments better. You can often find a variety of LED lights at Goodwill—test them in the electronics department if you want!

The process on this is so easy—just repeat it with each ornament.

Step One: Glitter-ify
Remove the cap from each ornament, and aim the nozzle of the spray paint can into the ornament. Give it one good shot of spray paint for about ½ of a second, then roll the ornament around so the paint spreads. One at a time, add a piece of confetti (then roll the ball again until it sticks somewhere). Don’t have the time for paint and confetti—or have some ornaments that already look great? Skip this step.

Step Two: Dry
Give the ornaments a while to dry on the inside. Since the paint may be thick in the bottom of the ornament, and there’s not a lot of circulation in there, give it a good 6-12 hours to dry.

Step Three: Illuminate
If you’re picky like me, now is the time to bust out your math skills. To get an even strand of String Light Ornaments, divide the number of lights on the light string by the number of ornaments that you have. (Hint: Most light strings that are about 30 feet long have 100 bulbs.) Now, decide how many lights you want *in* the ornament vs. how many you want between the ornaments. Once you’ve made that decision, start at one end of the strand, and get to work gently putting the chosen light into each bulb. I had 9 ornaments, and 100 bulbs—and wanted to leave some space at either end—so I went with 5 bulbs in, and 4 out/in between ornaments.

Step Four: Re-cap
Put the little metal caps back on the bulbs, bending the metal to accommodate the cords. If you need to, you can use wire cutters to snip off parts of the metal cap. Put the caps back on gently to avoid cutting the light cord at all. We also advise unplugging the lights while you do this part—just in case. (Safety first!)

Step Five: Decorate!
These can be hung inside a window, across a mantle—or anywhere you want! They can also be placed as a bright addition to a centerpiece, or added to a tree.

This project is highly customizable by using different colors in the lights and ornaments, or differently shaped translucent ornaments! You can also try different painting methods like this one from—but be sure to use a translucent paint so the light shines through!

Stay tuned for our upcoming New Year’s décor blog, where you’ll see this project repurposed for New Year’s Eve Party decorations! 


Kim fancies herself a professional communicator. She has experience in writing, graphic design, and social media, and is always looking to expand her knowledge base into other fields of communication. She loves people, coffee & Seattle (including the rain).

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