June 10, 2008

message in a bottle (er, bag)

flattery will get you everywhere

Give your guests a warm welcome with luminarias that carry a greeting. Here’s all there is to it:

1.) Figure out what you want your message to say. Pay tribute to the guest of honor with "Happy B-Day, Bob!" Or blow a kiss to all your guests with a general message, like this one I made for an upcoming cocktail party: "Good evening / You look great." Just remember, the more letters, the more work it’ll be — each one takes about four minutes to make.

2.) Get enough lunch-size brown bags and white bags to make double-layered luminarias (brown on the outside, white on the inside) spelling out your message, making sure the white bags are the same size or slightly smaller than the brown ones so they fit inside. You can buy brown lunch bags at any grocery store. White bags are harder to find — I got mine at Smart & Final — but the white background will make your messages really light up and stand out.

friendly fire

3.) Sketch out your letters in pencil on the brown bags, making letters like "O" and "R" stencil-style so you don’t inadvertently cut out big holes in the bags. Don’t cut the white bags at all.

4.) Cut the letters out, using nail scissors on curvy letters to make cutting along the lines easier.

5.) Put white bags inside the brown ones for each letter. If any of your letter cut-outs start flapping in the wind, use clear tape to affix them to the white bags underneath. For any spaces in your message, simply slip a white bag inside an uncut brown one.

6.) Fill your luminarias with a couple of inches of sand, which you can get at a hardware store and later donate to a parent with a sandbox. Got a cat? Substitute kitty litter and reuse it once the party’s over.

7.) Nestle a tea light in the sand and put the luminarias in position.

8.) Light the candles and wait for the glowing compliments to come in.

Posted by Elizabeth on June 10, 2008 in Parties , Tips

Permalink | Comments (22)

22 responses to "message in a bottle (er, bag)"

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that's really cool!

That's a really lovely idea!

So adorable!

That is simply the cutest idea! I'm on a HS reunion committee and I'm so going to do it!! You'll make me look like a creative gal, but I'll pass all the credit on to you!! Thanks Martha, I mean Elizabeth! Gotta love the knowledge of bloggers!

that is sooooo sexy

that look sooooooooo good

I love that you included how long it will take to make each one. Very helpful. All crafts ideas should come with that.

That is really a cute idea!! Love it!! What if you used other colored bags instead of white?? Keep the great ideas coming you make us all look great!

Amy, you could totally use other colored bags and they'd glow the color of the bag. I like the natural look of the brown bags (not to mention the environmental friendliness--I threw the letter cut-outs right in my compost bin!), but colored ones could be very cool for a graduation party (CONGRATS JENNY! in her school colors), for example. You can get colored bags at party stores, or if you're really feeling industrious, paint white ones yourself to exactly match your wedding colors, say. I'd just avoid light colors like light pink or yellow, since there might not be enough contrast with the white to easily make out the letters.

By the way, I realized after I did all my letter cut-outs that I could have cut all the letters out of the side without the seam--the other side has little brand lettering at the top, but it's nothing you could see once the luminarias are in action. That would avoid the stripe down the middle of the bags you see in the photo (though I sorta like how they look that way too).

I also dig the way my message (GOOD EVENING/YOU LOOK GREAT) is symmetrical on both sides, but if the first part of your message is a lot longer than your second, or vice-versa, you could just use uncut bags to fill in the spaces.

very good


This is a truly fantastic idea, but am I missing something? How do you stop the bags from burning down?

Ina, the bags won't burn because the flame from a tealight doesn't come up very high and it won't touch the sides of the bag. Plus, you put sand in the bottom of the bags for the candles to sit in, so if one of the tealights tipped over somehow, it'd be put out by the sand.

For a graduation party, I wanted my luminarias to say "Congratulations on your Graduation!" but I got lazy mid-way through and simply contracted it to "Congraduations!"

Ha--love it, James!

Wow! The picture looks so pretty! I'm defineately going to try this for my upcoming party! :)

thats so awesome looking but will the bag catch on fire??? lol.with my luck makes me a tad bit nervous

I wonder if white office paper will do the trick also if we are not able to locate white paper bags.

Good Idea. Can I use it outside in the snow?

This is an awesome idea!
Except there is 1 flaw!
What if your party is during the summer @ around 5? The light will be too bright to see the lumanaries!

This is an awesome idea!
Except there is 1 flaw!
What if your party is during the summer @ around 5? The light will be too bright to see the lumanaries!
That's your problem, not a "flaw".

what a cute idea! thanks for sharing! :)

Now that is nice and different.