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How To Make Pretty Map Luminary Bags

Living in the Northern hemisphere, our winter evenings are long and dark. I love to brighten up my home with lots of indoor light decorations like these pretty map luminary bags.

Normally, I use those lovely copper string lights you can get like with my brilliant LED deer decoration and my heart string lights. However, when I came across remote controlled led tea lights, I just knew I had to have some.

You can’t get more convenient than remote-controlled tea lights. With one push of the button, you can switch on a whole load of tea lights in one go.

No need to reach into the luminary bag and pick up each tea light one by one to switch it on. I just walk into the lounge pick up the remote click the switch and “voila” instant pretty illuminations.

I’ve used the same tea lights with the rainbow postage stamp decoupage jars I made.

Brighten Up Your Home With Map Luminary Bags

I decided to use old maps for my DIY luminary bags. Old maps conjure up memories of past travels or places where I have lived before. I think the light looks great shining through them and they are very thrifty.

Even if you don’t have a vast collection of old maps like me, you can pick them up very cheaply from charity/thrift stores. I often find purchasing old maps works out cheaper than using craft paper or gift wrap! There are some wonderful vintage maps for crafting that you can print too.

A star punch was used on the bag to create a pretty light effect. You can experiment with different shaped paper punches on your bags to see what effect you like or even just use a simple round hole punch.

Even though I have made these map luminary bags as a winter decoration to brighten up my home. I think they would be great for a summer outdoor party and could be used to illuminate a garden path.

DIY map luminary bags

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What you need to make Map Luminary bags

  • Old maps – You can pick these up from charity/thrift stores. The bags I made were A4 size so you can also print off maps onto A4 paper to use. This might be handy if you are looking for maps of a particular country or state. Pictureboxblue has lots of free maps to choose from and print.
What you need to make map luminary bags
Remote controlled tea lights
  • Rotary cutter and mat if using old maps.

How to make Map Luminary bags

First, if using printed maps, cut the maps up into A4 sized sheets. I can normally get 6-8 A4 sheets from one standard roadmap.

A4 Map sheets

I will attempt to explain with photos how I made my luminary bags. However, there are lots of great youtube videos that also show the process and if you get lost I suggest you take a look at them.

1.. First take one sheet of map paper and fold it lengthways so that there is an overlap of between 5-10mm on one edge.

Make sure the map print is on the outside of the fold. Fold this flap over and glue it to the map to create a tube.

Folding and sticking map bag

2. Before moving on to the next stage, I like to punch patterns into the map paper. I do it at this point as I have more of an idea where the punched patterns will appear in relation to the finished luminary bag.

Punching stars into map luminary bags

3. Next, place the map paper lengthways and fold up from the bottom about 5-6cm. Use a ruler to make a nice sharp crease as you fold.

folding up base of the bags

4. Next, push in the sides of the map where you have folded so that the base of the bag opens out and lies flat. Like the picture below.

5. Next, to secure the base of the map luminary bags, fold down the top half of the base flap to just over halfway and glue it down.

Next, repeat with the bottom half of the base flat.

6. Then, fold in 3cm from the edge on both sides of the bag.

7. The final bit is the slightly fiddly bit. You need to open up the bag by putting your hand inside and then fold in the creases on the side to make the paper bag shape.

folding in sides

9. Finally, finish off by popping a remote-controlled light into the bag and folding over the top.

finished map luminary bag

As the remote-controlled tea lights came in a box of 12, I made 12 of these map luminary bags.

I also used these LED tea lights with my Chinese paper lantern tea light jars.

I think that they look much more effective together in a big group. You could always use maps of your favourite places to make these bags to give them that personal touch. I’ve made waterproof versions of these map paper bags to use as cool plant pot covers.

finished map luminary bags
finished map luminary bags illuminated

Printable maps can also be used to make these really cute DIY tea light lanterns.

finished map luminary bags illuminated

If you have any maps leftover you may want to check out some of my other map themed gift ideas and decoration posts.
Vintage Map Heart Garland

DIY paper Christmas Trees with Maps
Map Paper Rosettes Decorations
Printable 3d Map Star Decorations

For more papercraft ideas visit


Monday 23rd of December 2019

Claire these are so awesome!!! I love the tip about the hole punchers I had no idea there was a magnetic one that could be used in the middle of the paper! Also... remote controlled tea lights that's also new to me!!!? Thanks for that! These are gorgeous in map design, I'm pinning this idea for next year!

Claire Armstrong

Monday 23rd of December 2019

Thank you, Susan. They are a good all year round decoration, I've used them in the summer to light up the garden at night for a party.

Fall Lighting Ideas to Brighten Your Autumn - Backyardscape

Friday 2nd of August 2019

[…] How To Make Pretty Map Luminary Bags […]

Caro | The Twinkle Diaries

Saturday 2nd of February 2019

I LOVE these Claire!!!! They'd be a gorgeous way of lighting the garden at a summer BBQ! So lovely. Thanks so much for linking up with #HomeEtc xx

Claire Armstrong

Sunday 3rd of February 2019

Thank you, yes it would be a good way to llluminate the path.


Sunday 20th of January 2019

Great idea! What brand is the magnetic punch? Does it saw somewhere on it? Thanks, for the link to the downloadable maps too! Marilyn

Claire Armstrong

Sunday 20th of January 2019

Thank you, the punch is "Star - Artoz 'Flying' Paper Punch"

Jodie Fitz

Tuesday 15th of January 2019

I absolutely LOVE this idea! I love all things maps...and, as you know I'm a fan already of your constant creativity. You were featured at this week's RTT Party: Have a great week...

Claire Armstrong

Tuesday 15th of January 2019

Aww, thank you so much Jodie, that is awesome.