How to Make DIY Floating Candles

Floating lanterns or candles
yupiyan / Getty Images
Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 2 hrs
  • Yield: 10 floating candles
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

Floating candles are wonderfully enchanting decorations that look great year-round, but especially during the holidays (Halloween included). No, we’re not talking about delicate tea lights floating in bowls of water. We’re talking about seemingly bewitched candles suspended in thin air, as seen in Harry Potter and other magical movies.

Thankfully, you don’t have to be a witch or wizard to make these otherworldly decorations. With a few simple supplies, you can make them yourself for little to no money. This easy DIY is great for beginners, and even kids can get in on the fun with adult supervision. Use flameless candles for safety reasons—we used tea lights, but you can pick whichever flameless shape or form suits your desired look. This project starts with 10 floating candles, but you can make as many (or as few!) as you wish.

Warning

This project involves a sharp needle and a hot glue gun at points. These steps should be performed by adults only.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Paint brush
  • Hot glue gun
  • Needle or thumbtack
  • 10 thumbtacks or command hooks

Materials

  • 10 empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls
  • White acrylic craft paint
  • White craft paper
  • Fishing wire
  • 10 small battery-powered tea lights

Instructions

  1. Add Hot Glue Drips

    Plug in your hot glue gun and allow it to warm up for a few minutes. Because you’ll be using it to make realistic candle wax “drips,” you want the glue to be as hot and melty as possible. Work quickly, but carefully.

    Once your glue gun has warmed up, quickly glue around the circular top edge of each of your toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Be generous with the amount of glue you add so that you create wax-like drips around the rim of each roll. 

    Allow the hot glue to dry completely before moving on to the next step. This will take at least 15 minutes.

  2. Paint Each Roll White

    Dip your paintbrush in acrylic craft paint and completely coat your toilet paper or paper towel rolls so that they look solid white, like classic candles. Depending on how thick your paint is, you can add multiple coats of paint. Just allow each coat to dry before adding another one. 

    Once finished painting, let the paint dry before continuing the project. This could take anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours—follow the instructions on the back of your paint bottle for the best results.

  3. Glue Paper to Bottom of Each Roll

    Use your hot glue gun to glue a small piece of white craft paper to the base of each painted toilet paper or paper towel roll. Cut off the extra paper after the glue has cooled and dried. This extra step will make your candles look even more realistic.

  4. String Fishing Line Through

    Poke a sharp needle or thumbtack through the top of each paperboard toilet paper or paper towel roll and string your fishing line through to allow the DIY candles to hang from the ceiling. Poke a hole in each quadrant of the roll, so that you end up with four holes total, all on the same level and with in pairs that face each other. Make these holes an inch or two below the top edge of your rolls.

    To do this quickly and easily, thread your needle and fishing wire through one end and out the other side, then cut it and tie the ends to make a simple knot at the top of the string where you’ll hang it. Then, repeat this step. Not only does the crossed fishing line allow you to hang the candle, but it also creates a support for the faux tea light you’ll insert next.

    The length of each string is up to you and depends on how high or low you’d like to hang your candles.

  5. Insert Battery-Powered Tea Lights

    Gently insert one battery-powered tea light into each toilet paper or paper towel roll “candle” so that it sits on top of your crossed fishing line near where the wax-like hot glue is. Turn on the faux flames.

  6. Hang Candles

    Your DIY floating candles are now finished and it’s time to hang them up. You can hang them from the ceiling with a thumbtack or a command hook. Group them together for a cozy vibe. They particularly look great when hung over a dining table for all of your dinner guests to ogle at.

    Tip

    Use this same hanging tactic to hang other paper crafts like stars, signs, or if you’re going for a Harry Potter theme, winged keys (just cut out paper wings and glue them to old keys, or make your own keys from paper).