Thrifty and Trendy Dollar Store Decor: Picture Frame Lantern

You know how you see something on Pinterest and you think, “I could make that,” but yet you never quite get around to actually doing it? Well, that’s me most all of the time, but I decided since I am off from school for the summer, I had no valid excuse for not at least attempting a DIY project. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on my project, so I decided to make something where I could get all of the materials at my local dollar store. 

I settled on making a cool candle lantern that I saw a segment on while watching a morning talk show. My version is slightly different than what they made on the TV show though.  You can find many different variations for this same project on a few different DIY websites, if you are looking for more inspiration.

I decided that besides making the lantern, I also wanted to make my candles a little special, too. You wouldn’t have to make yours fancy, but decorating the candles was the easiest part of this project so I highly recommend you try it. I used plain white candles, but again the choice of color is all yours. I personally like the look of the white candles, gold accents, and black lantern because it’s on trend with what you find at home decorating stores currently. It looks super expensive, but yet this project only cost me $7.00!

Picture Frame Candle Lantern

Materials Needed:

4 frames of the same size (I used 5X7)
Hot glue gun or heavy duty craft glue of your choice
Metal push pins


1. Prep your materials

Take out all paper, matting, or cardboard that may be inside your frames. You will also need to take the cardboard back off of the frame so that you only have the frame and glass remaining. 

2. Remove excess pieces

You can skip this step if you would like, but I chose to pull out the little metal pieces that hold the glass in the frame. When you bend them to hold the glass in, they show from the outside and I wanted clean lines instead.  I used pliers to gently pull the metal out, which was super easy to do! 

3. Glue glass in place

If you decide to remove the metal that holds the glass in the frames, you will then need to put a dot of glue in each corner of your frames and set the glass pieces back inside gently.  The glue will nicely hold the glass in place without showing through to the front of your lantern. 

4. Glue frames together

Next apply glue to the outside of one edge of a frame.  With a steady hand, gently push a second frame into the glue, making sure to line the two frames up correctly. Hold firm for about 30 seconds to allow the glue to cure slightly before standing the frames up to dry. Repeat with two more frames. 

5. Dry overnight

When you have completed gluing both sets of frames, allow them to dry overnight.  Once completely dry, you will then apply glue to the edges of both sets and press them together to create the four sided lantern. Allow your lantern to again dry overnight. 

6. Decorate candles

In the meantime, decide what design you want to create with your metal push pins on each candle. Gently push the pins into your candle being careful to not crack the wax. If you push too hard, chunks of your candle may crack and fall off. 

7. Assemble and enjoy!

Once you have your push pins all applied to your candles, set the candles inside your lantern, light them with a match, and enjoy the fruit of your labor. Your friends and family will be amazed at the pretty decor you have created and will marvel at how gorgeous it looks lit up at night! 



Melissa was born and raised right here in Iowa. Although she grew up in southwest Iowa (about as close to Missouri and Nebraska as you can get!), she has called eastern Iowa home for 15 years. She and her husband Eric live in North Liberty, along with their 4 year-old daughter Kennedy. Melissa attended the University of Northern Iowa where she earned her BA in Early Childhood Special Education and her MAE in K-6 Learning Disabilities. She currently teaches kindergarten for the Clear Creek Amana School District, where she has taught for 14 years. In her spare time, Melissa loves to be outside playing or working on projects in their yard, spending time with family and friends, and baking up goodies for her family. She also enjoys taking walks with their two dogs, plump beagle Lenny and shy dachshund-beagle mix Cooper. Life as a full-time working mommy keeps her very busy, but Melissa wouldn't have it any other way!


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