DIY LED Lights…For The Win

This is one of my favorite DIY projects because it ticks all of the boxes- easy, fast, cheap and high impact. I first discovered how to make these when exploring lighting options for my wedding. When all was said and done, I probably made close to 500. I’ll include a tutorial on how to make a basic “on/off” switch as well, in case you’d like to make them in advance like I did.

They will last a REALLY long time depending on the quality of the batteries you buy, some had a faint glow months after the wedding.

Here is what you need:

  1. 10mm White LED Diode 
  2. Lithium Button Cell Coin Battery 3V
  3. Electrical Tape

Optional Items:

  1. Cardstock or index cards (if making on/off switch)
  2. Snack Baggies (if making semi waterproof)
  3. Binder Clips 3/4-Inch Width (to secure connection or as a hanging attachment)

Here are tutorials on how to make 3 styles of lights
Basic DIY LED Light
Basic DIY LED Light with a Binder Clip
DIY LED Light with On/Off Switch



PRO Project- Indestructible LED Lantern (adapted from post by Steve Hoefer)

This project will make a completely waterproof LED lantern that can be frozen, submerged in water, placed outdoors- they are virtually indestructible. We tied rocks to these and submerged them in a river to provide additional lighting for the wedding. The effect was incredible and one of my favorite parts of the day.

What you will need:

  1. 10mm White LED Diode 
  2. Lithium Button Cell Coin Battery 3V
  3. Electrical Tape
  4. Binder Clips 3/4-Inch Width
  5. 1 inch PVC Cap- Socket
  6. 1 inch PVC Plug – Spigot
  7. Thread Sealing Tape
  8. Power Drill or Drill Press
  9. 3/8″ Drill Bit


  1. You want to drill a hole in the top center of the 1 inch PVC Cap- Socket with a 3/8″ bit. A drill press is highly recommended for this project. 
  2. Cut the prongs of the 10mm White LED Diode so they will fit inside the cap.
  3. Wrap the Thread Sealing Tape around the base of the LED so it will create a waterproof seal when you place it in the hole in the cap.
  4. Push the LED light through the hole in the cap, on the underside. Use pliers for more force if needed.
  5. You have a few options at this point:
    1. You can light the LED by using the Binder Clip version above.
    2. Or you can assemble the lights with an on/off switch now and complete the last few steps right before you need to use the lanterns.
      TIP: If you are going to make the lights far in advance, you may also need to use binder clips to ensure a tight connection. I learned the hard way that once I remove the “switch” I needed to also re-wrap them with tape or use a clip to ensure a solid connection. I made mine months in advance so you may not need this extra step. 
  6. Push the plug into the cap and you’re finished!
    TIP: We also used PVC sealer to glue the plug in place. My dad wasn’t taking any chances that water could get in and ruin the lights. This does make the lanterns a one time use project- so only do this if you never plan to use them again. Otherwise, you should be able to pop the plug and cap apart and replace the light once it burns out.

Here is the finished project:


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