Picture of Red Plastic Cup Party Light String
When designing the look of a new weekly night at a Chicago nightclub designed to emulate a house-party vibe, the ubiquitous red plastic party cup became the icon. Many elements were designed as decorations for the night using them, but one in particular was particularly simple and really stood out- plus we hadn't seen it done before. It's so simple and fetching, I hope others will be inspired to make a set of this fun string of lights, great for outdoor spaces! 
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Step 1: Collect your materials

Picture of collect your materials

In order to make your very own string of party cup lights, you'll need the following:

- A string of C7 size "holiday" lights. This can be any length, or any number of strings you desire. We used clear light bulbs, though you could use colored lightbulbs or a different style plastic cup for a different effect.
- Plastic Cups. As many as you have sockets on the light string. 16 oz is the most common size.
- A drill with a bit larger than the threaded base of of your bulbs. 1/2" for a C7 bulb.

That's it!

You could also add an in-line dimmer to change the look or use twinkle bulbs to create a livelier mood.

Step 2: Prepare the cups

Picture of prepare the cups

Drilling one at a time, or several stacked cups at once, drill a hole through the center of the base of all your plastic cups. You may find that you have flaps of plastic hanging onto the edge of the drilled holes which you can easily remove by hand.

Loving this design. Thanks for sharing!
davidandora (author)  GorillazMiko1 year ago
You are very welcome! It's such a simple project and they were one of the most talked about elements at the place we used them. I think they are the right amount of "fun" for a gathering on your deck or other outdoor space.

What size cups did you use? Were they SOLO cups or just generic? Thanks.

davidandora (author)  rrupichkloepfer7 months ago
16 oz. cups are what we used for this example and are the most common size. These red cups I think were Target generic. Party City has them in 21 different colors.
jeremy loa7 months ago

Thanks. This guide was quite useful for me .

In Indonesia it was called as "Lampion"

davidandora (author)  jeremy loa7 months ago
Glad to help!
qwerty99888 months ago

I'm going to make these for my porch. Wondering about the purple ribbon type string of lights .. did you make those? I like those too and searched around to find something similar but haven't found anything.

davidandora (author)  qwerty99888 months ago
Ah, what appears to be purple ribbon lights is actually called belt lighting, wired with four channels to do a chasing effect, and not really intended to be strung. They appear purple only from the ambient lighting. What I would recommend is often referred to as festival lighting or light strings. There are many options currently available for them including LED bulbs that look very similar to the incandescent options. Here's a starting point:
Wow, looks like the 'belt lighting' is a little more than I wanted to spend and a little too complicated.

The Edison strings are nice tho. Thanks for the quick reply !
Tater Zoid8 months ago

This is a great idea. After events I take my cup home to reuse or recycle, now I have another reason to reuse them. Thanks.

davidandora (author)  Tater Zoid8 months ago

Thanks! These never fail to create an atmosphere for very little effort. You could get a great number of looks with any number of upcycled disposable cups.

I hope they play "red solo cup" every day they're up.
lime3D1 year ago
I love it. It gives just the right look. To keep the cups from cracking or collapsing, you can try melting the holes with a soldering iron, instead of drilling.
davidandora (author)  lime3D1 year ago
That is a great suggestion. It all depends on the type of plastic your cups are made of in our experience. The standard red and blue plastic party cups seemed to take a drill without cracking or splitting. I'd have preferred melting a hole perhaps if I could locate a 1/2" or tapered bit for a soldering iron. Do they make those?
Problem solved:
gb44771 year ago
davidandora (author)  gb44771 year ago
Fantastic! Too bad I hadn't seen this when I was in undergrad.
davidandora (author)  rolltidehank1 year ago
it's totally a dorm room detail! Thanks!