Easy Glow In The Dark Day of The Dead Lanterns

This non-toxic glow in the dark Day of the Dead lanterns are so easy to make. They are a great Day of the Dead craft to make with kids. These would also make for a great Halloween party craft or decoration.

Day of the Dead skull glow in the dark easy to make DIY lanterns.

We are getting ready for our Day of the Dead party celebration on November 1st. We wanted to make a fun Dia de Los Muertos craft with the kids.  We’re creating a Day of the Dead altar and wanted to make something with a fun and cool twist.

We figured we could do a glow in the dark craft and came up with the idea of this super easy glow in the dark Calavera lanterns.   We had all of the materials for these at home and made them in no time and I have to say we all were really happy with how awesome these look at night.

Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos skull glow in the dark lanterns, materials.

If you’re making a Day of the Dead craft or an altar at home it’s important to know the meaning behind many of these traditions and what each element symbolizes. 

Day of the Dead Lanterns 

Altars created for El Dia de los Muertos usually include candles. We decided to use lanterns instead of candles in our Day of the Dead altar and decorations because they are safer for kids. The light of the candles in an altar is believed to light the way for our ancestors to reach their final resting place. 

The meaning of sugar skulls

For these lanterns, se used sugar skull or calavera designs. Sugar skulls have a very special meaning in Day of the Dead celebrations. As the name implies traditional sugar skulls are made from sugar using molds. They are then decorated and are usually very colorful.

Sugar skulls are placed on Day of the Dead altars and symbolize the deceased person. They are also given to friends and family as a gift on el Dia de los Muertos to represent life. 

The colorful and often whimsical designs of sugar skulls represent the joy and vitality of life. They also represent the individuality of each person that has passed away. 

Day of the Dead glow in the dark lanterns made with mason jars.

How to make the lanterns glow in the dark

To make the lanterns glow you can use non-toxic, glow in the dark paint. For the original craft, we used glow in the dark sticks. These can be toxic and some glow in the dark sticks can have glass inside. Breaking the glow in the dark sticks can be dangerous as well. That is why we have replaced the glow in the dark sticks with safe, non-toxic glow in the dark paint. We were very happy with the result and love that now this craft is truly kid-friendly and safe! 

Glow in the dark Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos skull lanterns made with mason jars.

Easy Glow In The Dark Day of The Dead Lanterns

Easy Glow In The Dark Day of The Dead Lanterns

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes


  • glass mason jars
  • black sharpie or craft smart market
  • glow in the dark sticks


  • small brush


    1. Using the Sharpie marker paint a fun sugar skull or calavera design on the front of each mason jar.  
    2. Using the brush paint the inside of the jar with glow in the dark paint.
    3. Let the paint dry before closing the jar.

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Glow in the dark Day of the Dead lanters using glow-in-the dark sticks

As mentioned before, you can also make these using glow in the dark sticks. This method is not safe for kids and is not recommended as the glow in the dark sticks are toxic. However, I am including it since the original craft was made with this method.

  1. To make the glow-in-the-dark lanterns using glow sticks start by cutting a glow in the dark stick. Make sure that you use gloves when you cut the glow in the dark sticks and do not let children handle them or cut them as the chemicals inside the glow stick can irritate skin and eyes.  Some glow sticks also have glass inside so be careful when handling as there might be glass shards inside the glow stick.
  2. Pour the glow in the dark liquid inside the mason jar. Close the jar tightly and shake it making sure that the liquid covers all the inside of the mason jars.   

Proper safety materials like safety glasses and gloves should be used when recommended to protect eyes and skin.

Day of the Dead crafts for kids

Here are some more fun ideas for Day of the Dead inspired crafts for kids.

These lanterns are easy do make and very safe for kids.

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These colorful sugar skull masks are painted with markers. They are a fun craft for a party.

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This sugar skull piñata garland is so colorful and festive. It's easy to make and the article includes free printables for the eyes and mouth.

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These sugar skull noise makers are an easy craft to make. All you need is a spoon, pipe cleaners and beads!

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These fun glowing sugar skulls are made with old easter eggs!

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Print these sugar skull inspired whimsical animals and have kids color them. You can use them to decorate popsicles for fun Halloween treats.

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31 thoughts on “Easy Glow In The Dark Day of The Dead Lanterns”

  1. This is a great idea. You could also use glow powder (available from Amazon) mixed with Modpodge and painted on the inside. The glow power recharges and you don’t have to worry about glass shards or irritating chemicals. 🙂

  2. Hi – I am wondering about disposal of these lanterns – do you throw them away? Are they hazardous waste? Or, can they be used again, and of so, how?

    They are super cool!

    • I would not use the mason jars again for anything else. You can wash them but using gloves as the glow liquid could irritate skin and reuse the mason jars only to make the lanterns again, not for anything else and specially not to put food in them! This is what I found about disposal: According to Cyalume Technologies, “Activated light sticks do not meet the definition of a Characteristic Hazardous Waste [term used by the EPA] and therefore, under the regulations, can be disposed of as a solid waste in solid waste landfills and incinerators unless prohibited by site-specific solid waste facility restriction.”.

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