How To Make Pretty Map Luminary Bags

Brighten Up Your Home With 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 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!

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


How to make Map Luminary bags

  1. 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.

  3. First take one sheet of map paper and fold it length ways 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

  5. 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

  7. Next, place the map paper length ways 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


  9. 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.


  11. To secure the base of the map luminary bags, fold down the top half of the base flap to just over half way and glue it down. Next, repeat with the bottom half of the base flat.



  13. Next, fold in 3cm from the edge on both sides of the bag.


  15. 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.

  17. Finsih off by popping a remote controlled led 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 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.

finished map luminary bags

finished map luminary bags illuminated

finished map luminary bags illuminated

If you have any maps left over you may want to check out some of my other map decoration post.
Vintage Map Heart Garland
Map Paper Rosettes Decorations
Printable 3d Map Star Decorations

For more papercraft ideas visit

30 Responses

  1. 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

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

  3. 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…

  4. I think this is one of my favourites of your DIYs Claire. How game-changing are remote led tealights?! And I think these would make a great gift #HomeEtc

  5. I love them! That is such a fantastic idea, especially now that all the Christmas decorations are down and away…! Thank you!

  6. Very much enjoyed browsing, loved your map bags, I love maps too, thanks for sharing.

  7. These are awesome, Claire! And I had no idea there were remote control votives!

    • Thank you. Yes there are remote controlled ones and they make things so much easier.

  8. I really love these and the tutorial is so detailed and helpful. I have never seen emote controlled tea lights before. What a great idea! Thanks so much for this!

  9. These are SO lovely, Claire! Here in the states, our libraries have little ‘stores’ that sell used books. LOTS of time they have National Geographic maps for 10 cents each! I’ll be on the look-out for more, as these luminaires are just beautiful! (Saw you on Waste Not Wednesday, and it reminded me to come visit!)

    • Thanks, I’d love to get hold of some of those National Geographic maps. My dad used to get the magazines when I was I child. l loved the photography in them.

  10. Your projects are always so amazing. I LOVE how you add little touches to take your projects to that next level of amazing. The star design paper punch takes the cake! Where did you get it?

  11. These are brilliant, I am a little surprised to see you crafting with maps though !!!!
    I am loving the sound of remote controlled tea lights too – whoever thought of that needs to be on the New Years honours list surely! I also have paper punch envy, that star is gorgeous.

    • Thank you. Yes who’d of thought maps! The tea lights are fabulous.

  12. How fun and so pretty! I wish that I would of had the foresight to save all my dads maps after he passed. He loved his maps!

    • Thank you. My family pass me all their old maps to craft with.

  13. These are so cool, Claire! What a fabulous and creative idea!

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