Fast, Eco-Friendly Ghost Lanterns

photo (10)
photo credit: Fran Wilde

Looking for a new Halloween decoration? With a few items you probably already have, you can make ghost lanterns that are re-usable, recyclable, and eco-friendly.

You’ll need:

  • Plastic milk jugs, stripped of labels and rinsed thoroughly
  • Sharpie marker, black
  • Scissors
  • Sand (for weight)
  • Battery operated candles if placing out of the rain; glow-sticks if using in exposed locations

After rinsing each milk jug, cut the screw-top off to make putting the sand and light inside easier.

Use a Sharpie marker to draw faces on each lantern.

Fill the base with enough sand to keep the lanterns from blowing away and add your light.

** Don’t use regular candles or anything with an open flame, because Plastic + Fire = Bad. **

Place in groups along a pathway or on stairs.

(A version of this project on Pinterest also suggests using Christmas lights.)


Fran Wilde writes science fiction and fantasy. Her first novel, Updraft (Tor, 2015) is called 'Soaring' by Publishers' Weekly and Barnes & Noble SFF blog, while NPR Books says it was "one of the most original fantasy novels I've read this year." Her next novel, Cloudbound releases in September. Fran's short stories appear at Asimov's, Nature, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and She writes for publications including The Washington Post, SFSignal,, Clarkesworld,, and She can also program digital minions, tie most of the sailor's knot board, and re-load a fountain pen without spattering herself with ink (usually). She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and their tween-minecraft fanatic / book addict / budding Scratch programmer.