12 Whimsical DIY Outdoor LED Lights Ideas for Enchanted Evenings

Amber Guetebier
Written by Amber Guetebier
Updated January 19, 2022
Friends having a barbecue in the backyard
Photo: Westend61 / Getty Images

It’s time to switch things up

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From fairy tales to garden parties, there’s just something about sparkling lights that add instant ambiance at night. Whether you aim to light up your patio or illuminate your walkways, there are plenty of options for outdoor lighting. Incorporating outdoor LED lights will get you more bang for your buck—LED lights use 90% less energy than halogen bulbs. Now add to that some creative flair with one of these 12 easy DIY outdoor light ideas, and you’ll be well on your way to a yard full of enchantment without breaking the bank.

1. Let It Glow

A mason jar with lights
Photo: Courtesy of Crafts by Amanda

If you ever feel like DIY is harder than it should be, visit Crafts by Amanda for doable projects. Amanda makes beautiful crafts with easy-to-find items, like these simple and effective glowing mason jar solar lights, which you can replicate for your own patio or porch.

2. Tape the Light Fantastic

An invisiLED outdoor tape light
Photo: Courtesy of Modern Lighting by Lumens Light + Living

This remarkable 12V InvisiLED Outdoor Tape can weave around any plant, path, or garden structure. It's waterproof, so it'll withstand rains, and you can submerge it in water (up to five feet). Add it to a waterfall, fountain, pond, or even your pool, to give a magical quality with low effort. While the layout can be done fairly easily, it will require a transformer, so you may want to involve a local electrician to ensure safe installation.

3. Hang Out

DIY Outdoor Pendant Light
Photo: Courtesy of Unexpected Elegance

Designer and blogger Angela from Unexpected Elegance created these magazine-worthy outdoor lights with a clever balance of baskets and light kits. Use LED outdoor bulbs for an energy-efficient way to brighten your porch.

4. Starry Night

Custom outdoor star lights
Photo: Courtesy of Lia Griffith

Bring the night sky right to your own garden with a sweet combination of craft and strand lights. Lia Griffith originally made these custom star lights for a Fourth of July party but they would look cute year-round. You can use LED Christmas lights or solar string lights.

5. Pour It On

Vintage style beer bottles LED lights
Photo: FotoHelin / Adobe Stock

What could be better for a little gathering than simple, wine bottle lights? More Organics created easy garden lights with just a few items often on hand. You can try their method or find outdoor LED-battery-powered fairy lights to create individual bottle lights you can use on tables.

6. Rope It Up

A DIY outdoor light project
Photo: Courtesy of A Beautiful Mess

You can use rope lights in many different ways around the garden, from wrapping trees to lighting up paths. Two creative sisters, Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson, started the popular website A Beautiful Mess, which showcases their natural DIY skills. Emma's clever rope light sign brings whimsical outdoor lights to a whole new level.

7. It’s in the Bag

Paper outdoor light
Photo: sumikophoto / Adobe Stock

Few things are easier to DIY than a luminaria—a simple paper lantern. All you need to make them yourself are paper lunch bags and outdoor LED lights, such as LED battery-powered candles. Have something on hand to fill the bottom of the bags so they don’t blow away: you can use sand, rice, or even legumes in a pinch. Leave the bags plain or decorate them with designs or stencils and swap out the white lights for colored ones for some added sparkle. Luminarias look beautiful lining a garden path and the perfect touch to paver patio design.

8. Through the Grapevine

A DIY outdoor chandelier
Photo: Courtesy of All Things Heart & Home by Anchored Design

If you’re looking for a cool DIY string lighting project, Robin from All Things Heart and Home created this outdoor chandelier using decorative grapevine balls and lights. It’s a relatively easy way to give your porch or garden an instant rustic yet elegant atmosphere. Robin recommends using lights with brown wires (rather than white or green) to blend better with the vines.

9. Ice-See-You

A Christmas outdoor decorations
Photo: tnoronen / Adobe Stock

If you live somewhere that brings consistent winter temperatures below freezing, try your hand at making beautiful ice lanterns. All it takes is water, a mold of some kind, and outdoor-friendly LED lights (you can use candles, but if it's windy electric lights work best). Ice Luminary Magic offers endless ideas, including how to freeze natural materials such as green branches, leaves, and flowers into the lanterns and how to make various shapes and sizes. Consider it your reward for having to winterize your plumbing and hunker down for a few months.

10. Layer the Light

A cozy outdoor terrace
Photo: FotoHelin / Adobe Stock

Sometimes, more is more. Create an enchanting outdoor space by layering a variety of lighting options in one space. Hang strands of Christmas lights in a criss-cross pattern overhead, drape outdoor pendant lights, and place candles and LED lanterns on tables and ground level. Try to find lights in the same spectrum (all cool or all warm) to make the look cohesive.

11. You Can Do It

Tin can lanterns
Photo: Stefan Körber / Adobe Stock

This might be one of the best ideas for creating outdoor lighting on a budget. Save and clean out ordinary food cans, then paint them or leave them in their naturally shiny state. Pierce patterns into the surface with a hammer and nails (or use a Dremel if you have one) and add small LED lights to get the glow. Elise Engh Studios offers an easy tutorial to create similar tin can lanterns.

12. Bucket List

A plastic bucket solar lighting
Photo: Courtesy of Heartland Shoppes

It doesn’t get easier, or more charming, than these bucket lights. Add a vinyl decal from the HeartlandShoppes Etsy store to any plastic bucket for a simple way to light up your porch or campsite. For an environmentally and wallet-friendly way to light your buckets, shop owner Donna recommends cutting a small hole in the top of the lid and putting an LED solar light through.

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