Glowing Outdoor Orbs

O.K.  Get ready for it … this one’s a doozy.  Doozie?  Doosey. Druzy?  No, that’s what rings are made out of. It’s a humdinger. It looks high end with a side of huge impact, It costs next to nothing, And even if being “handy” to you means replacing your regular lightbulbs with eco-friendly ones … you’ll be able to  do this in 3 minutes flat.


This landscape lighting costs next to nothing and looks GREAT. Not, Gee it looks great for how much it cost, great. I mean REALLY great! width=     That’s right.  Some old glass shades, some old (outdoor) Christmas lights and BAM.  You’re a backyard badass.

In my attempt to make my backyard a teensy bit more contemporary than my 170 year old house I ran into a few problems.  Outdoor lighting is EXPENSIVE.

If I’m gonna shell out a whole whack of cash for something in my backyard it’s gonna be on a tenderloin for the BBQ.  Or a better BBQ.  Or a talking parrot who refers to me as Princess Leia. It isn’t gonna be for lighting if I can help it.

So while perusing the local second hand store I came across some truly unfortunate stains on the carpet AND these ubiquitous opaque glass shades.  You’ve probably thrown a few out in your lifetime.  Stop doing that.  Stop it right now. Because as you can see, all you have to do is shove some old mini lights in em to create an outdoor light that even a magazine Editor in Chief will comment on.  (Thank you Eric McLaughlin of Style at Home magazine for noticing my glowing orbs)

And here’s the best part!  You know those stupid, anger inducing mini lights you have shoved in your basement?  The ones where only half of the string lights up?  Yeah, um … this is a perfect use for them.  PERFECT!

at night

during the day


Just stick the glass shades anywhere you want and stuff them full of mini lights.   Attach an extension cord if you need to and hide it under your garden dirt or mulch.  I have my lights on a timer so they come on every night at dusk.

They look beauuuuutiful. And it wasn’t a fluke that I found these in a second hand store.  Every time I’ve gone into a second hand store I’ve noticed these shades there.  Goodwill, Salvation Army, random Bible Stores … they’re always in there.

Flea markets have them as well!  They’re usually around $1 – $3 each.

sign-up-yellow   If you don’t have a second hand store near you, you can order these shades on Amazon for cheap. $4.99 each for a 6″ shade or $9.50 for an 8″ shade. . You can also get them at regular old hardware stores. But they’re about $10 – $15.  And it would be stupid to spend $10 – $15 when you can spend $1 – $3.  Right?

Plus reduce, reuse, recycle and all that crap.  But you know that from changing those eco-friendly lightbulbs, right? And if you think the glowing balls look good like this, in the middle of a summer backyard … wait’ll I show you  what you can do with them in the winter! It’s fantastic!

Trust me.  Princess Leia wouldn’t lie to you.

p.s.  Look here to learn how to turn these same glass shades into a birdfeeder! and Look here to learn how I used them in the winter!


  1. Crystal says:

    I saw your globes and fell in love with them! But instead of using them outside and using white lights, I filled old flower vases with colored lights…now my kids have night lights! Thanks!

  2. Pam says:

    Such a great idea…love it.

  3. mary lou says:

    I decorated a huge tent for my daughter’s wedding with white paper lanterns of all sizes with tea lights inside……this is a great idea for an outdoor wedding….

  4. Victoria says:

    I just love the look these give off at night!! Will have to make some of my own. I featured this on my blog today:

  5. Ruth Gant says:

    Love the look of these orbs. Do you have any suggestions for making these at a house that is totally solar?

  6. Heather says:

    Beautiful idea! I keep looking at outdoor lights but won’t buy them due to cost. Great alternative though.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Heather! I also have a few of the orbs in my house (on my mantle and in one of my bookcases). I like them even better inside! ~ karen

  7. Cathy G says:

    OMG….. I found you by accident, and what a great accident. I followed someone who followed someone who followed someone on Pinterest and there you were!! Your instructions are so good even a craft challenged person like me can follow!!

    Thanks for your ideas and the humor to go with them… to clean up the coffee I spit at my computer laughing along with your stories!!!

    • Karen says:

      Cathy! I’m glad you found me through someone who found me through someone who found me through someone. Stick around! Tomorrow’s post is on the great, big, bad world of laying sod. ~ karen!

  8. MIA GEE says:

    I did this same cool idea with inflated balloons and faux tealight that use a battery!
    I just stretched the unflated balloon opening and place a turned on tealight in and blew it up! It orked great and I got many complements from my guests!

  9. Paula R Pfister says:

    I just love this and will be working on making these this week while I’m on vacation. When I take my vaction, it’s just at home and catching up and finishing projects that I haven’t been able to complete. Also, I was curious about how you used them in the Winter, where do I find that info???

    • Karen says:

      Hi Paula – Thanks! Here’s the link to the way I use them in the winter (thanks for reminding me to add the link to this post). ~ karen!

      • Jeff says:

        ummm i think you forgot to include the link here. Nothn is showin on my end anyway, haha. Am i goin loonie? BTW great ideer fr the lites. WOW!!!

  10. deitre says:

    you are a terrific writer, and hilarious to boot.

  11. Cyndi says:

    This is super! I’m lazy and I love simple! *L* I have several strings that only partially work and couldn’t just throw them away, now I know why I saved them. I’ll even try the colors ones for a different effect. Thanks for the idea.

  12. Sue says:

    Brilliant! Love the way this looks! I know I stuck some of those glass shades in a cupboard somewhere. Off to make magic!

  13. Lee Hethcox says:

    I groaned when I realized how many of those globes I’ve discarded..but I’ll get some more. Great idea!
    I pinned it but made sure to credit your blog.

  14. lucy says:

    Love it! Ok….do I shove all the lites into one container then run the extention from there?

    • Karen says:

      Lucy – Depends on how many globes you have. If you have a big string of lights, shove half of them in one globe, then place the second globe very close by and shove the rest of the lights into it. (you can cover up the few exposed bulbs you’ll have with mulch or dirt) And yes, the extension cord plug can be covered up by the globe and then run to your outlet. ~ karen!

  15. Erin says:

    Well Princess, that was the best tutorial EVER! I laughed out loud and woke my hubby up! That is such a great idea, as I am looking to update my yard into something other than…well ugly! Ha! And these little lights will be a fantastic piece to the gem I am going to create…i hope…gulp!

  16. Brenda says:

    Wonderful idea- wish I hadn’t tossed the half lite string of lights now — thanks for sharing!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Brenda. They look great on a fireplace mantle too! Now go through your lights. You can bet a set that was working at Christmas will magically be not working now. ~ karen

  17. Shirley says:

    Love your ideas…will be on the ‘lookout’ now for globes!! ;-)

  18. Pat Jones says:

    OK – I tried this just like you said, and they look awful! You can see the wires and individual light bulbs inside the globe! There isn’t a nice glow. Great idea, but what did I do wrong?

  19. Judy Knipfer says:

    It looks neat and I would like to try it. Do you have step by step instructions? Do you stuff the electric lights up into the globe or several globes? And do you bury the wire underground? Is this safe to use anywhere outside? And do you have other outdoor gardening tips?

    • Karen says:

      Judy – Everything I’ve show you is all you need to know. Shove some old “outdoor” Christmas lights in the globes and plug em in. :) Since they’re outdoor you don’t need to worry about safety. They’re meant for outside. And yes if you can and you want to, you can bury the wire as it runs to your plug. I have mine covered with mulch. My site has a few gardening tips dispersed throughout. I’m currently doing posts on creating a vegetable garden which you can watch for soon. ~ karen

  20. Carol Anne says:

    Love this idea! I pinned it a while back. And today, was bumping around Pinterest again and found another project I was interested in. I went to the site and started looking around. I saw your project there, word for word. And no credit given. I had to find my original pin and let you know.

    As I looked around this site, I saw tons of things I’d seen on Pinterest with no credits. Might want to look around and make sure none of your other projects are there!
    I blogged for a while and this wouldn’t have sat well with me, so I wanted to let you know.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Carol Anne! I so appreciate you taking the time to let me know. I just filed a copyright infringement notice against them. ~ karen!

  21. mary timmers says:

    What a great idea! And just in time for summer!

  22. Reg says:

    Found your site this morning after watching a segment on a local tv program. Absolutely love this site. Easy to navigate for those of us that are tech challenged and a certain ‘vintage’.
    There are so many things I’m looking forward to reading and even trying to do if the mood strikes me.
    The Glowing Outdoor Orbs will be first because it’s so easy and I have to do something with that mountain of tangled Christmas lights eventually.

    • Karen says:

      Glad you found my site Reg! I actually started out my television career at TV Hamilton Cable 14 many, MANY years ago with Mike Nabuurs who is now on 820 Cham. Please remember to vote for me! It would be fantastic to have a Canadian win this thing. ~ karen

  23. Amy says:

    Gosh, I love the fountain the best. You kind of explained in another comment how to make it. But I need details, because this NEEDS to go in my yard. Your yard is beautiful! I would never leave :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Amy – Thx! Do you mean my waterfall? It’d take a whole lot more time than I have to explain how I did that! If you search “backyard” in the search bar of my sidebar you can see the whole backyard and how I rebuilt it all, including putting in a contemporary pond with slate waterfall. :) Although I don’t include instructions on the waterfall, but there are a few construction pictures of it. ~ karen!

  24. mona says:

    I love this idea….can’t wait to try this in my yard….thanks for the inspiration.

  25. Christen says:

    I absolutely love this idea and just spotted some light covers at our local Re-Store so I can’t wait to make them! I included this idea in a weekly round-up on my blog. Thanks for the inspiration:

  26. Michelle says:

    Genius! I love to reduce, reuse & recycle, but not look like I do! This is just perfect. Thank you!

  27. Laura Wallace says:

    You crack me up, love the way you write!! Cool orbs too, looking into this project before summer gets here. Thanks for sharing!!

  28. Cheri says:

    I love this idea and look forward to reading more of your blog and seeing more fantastic projects! I love doing the “champagne taste on a beer budget” here! Or “decorating on a shoestring” as we say here in the south! It’s fun to brag about how little you spend!

    I have pinned a couple of your pictures too!
    Thanks for sharing~
    The Curtain Lady

  29. Judy Hoover says:

    This is the best idea ever!!!!I have tons of old Christmas lights. May even use a few that twinkle. Wouldn’t that be cool? Thanks

  30. kathy says:

    I just wanted to tell you, you are a freaking genius!! That is just beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Kathy. I was just at a Goodwill store thinking to myself … look at that lonely glass shade. I should tell someone what they can do with it! Then I decided I’d better not. ~ karen

  31. Edba says:

    I’m so glad I found this on Pinterest! I have some of those glass orbs already from old light fixtures that were in my home.

    Did you ever do a post showing what you did in winter? I’d like to see that too!

  32. absolutely brilliant! (no pun intended!) lovely idea all around. glad to see it on pinterest!

  33. Jaime says:

    I just have to say! This article was helpful and awesomely written! You made me laugh out loud! So funny!!!!

  34. What a simple and genius idea! Can’t wait to do this to my yard!

    • Karen says:

      Nicole J – Once you start making them you won’t be able to stop. You’ll put them everywhere. Your yard, your house, your neighbour’s yard … ~ karen!

  35. Lorraine Dean says:

    I have been waiting to do this in my garden for ages, and it looks so great.
    Love reading your post, and getting my daily dose of a good laugh and inspiration.
    Keep up the good work.
    Your biggest fan in Tasmania, Australia.

  36. Ramona says:

    What a great tip. But I’ve got to tell you, I love the commentary even more. Great writing style.

  37. jean says:

    I can hardly wait to try this. The orbs are simply beautiful.

  38. JWH says:

    I am so doing this and I am going to use some old colored lights when we decorate this next week for Christmas..Watch out Goodwill here I come.

  39. heh, thats like dumb easy. sheesh. Its times like this (after spending hours in Lowes looking a lighting ideas) that you just want to do a major face palm.

  40. Jen Hoover says:

    this is super coolness!!
    however, take my advice and just get a recorder device, NOT a parrot ;)

    from jen a parrot owner!

  41. Nancy says:

    Love this! And your courtyard is FAB-U-LOUS. i am totally gonna copy it in my backyard. So if you find a random post somewhere that looks like your garden reproduced in Middle Tennessee… you can totally blame me.

  42. Tracy says:

    fabulous! This is def going into my lazy girl garden/backyard project! =) (even the bird feeders)

  43. Genine says:

    This was the best tip ever. Thank you for sharing :)

  44. Valerie says:

    This is genius! Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  45. ceng says:

    I forgot to ask. Did you do that backyard by yourself!!!???

    • Karen says:

      Ceng – I did do the backyard myself. If you search “my backyard” or “my backyard like an idiot” you’ll find the post on it. ~ karen!

  46. ceng says:

    I loved this idea and your site. tks I can’t wait to see winter yard ideas.

  47. Gina Smitasin says:

    Love this idea and your yard.

  48. AGN says:

    LOVE your black circle chair hiding in the shadows. Where did you get it?!?!!?

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