Red Plastic Cup Party Light String





Introduction: Red Plastic Cup Party Light String

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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! 

Step 1: 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

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.

Step 3: Add the Lights

Insert each C7 light bulb base through the bottom of the plastic cup, from the inside so that the metal base extends out through the outside. Then screw the bulb into the socket where it will lock the cup into place. C7 light bulbs will not get hot enough to melt the cup, especially when used outdoors. Repeat with all your cups and light bulbs. Hang up your new string of party lights and call over the friends!

It's common to find strings of 25- 100 C7 bulbs, and with different spacing of either 6" or 12" between sockets, commonly. I think the effect looks best with about 12" between each light. You can also make your own string of lights with lamp cord and snap on sockets, or even prewired commercial holiday lighting for larger installations.


online bulk source:

Party City has 16 oz plastic cups in 21 colors.

Step 4: Another Example of This Idea

This turned out to be a great idea for decorating this rented park pavilion used for a wedding reception. The park's scenery in Utah was main visual treat, but the pavilion had only bright work lights, which we kept off. These simple string lights were simple to install (and uninstall), and were compact to pack in our luggage (or ship). They created the perfect ambiance through the afternoon and evening. Party City also carries so many cup colors that you can use whatever the occasion calls for, blue and yellow in this case.



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Loving this design. Thanks for sharing!

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.

Think I may copy this great idea to my party website if you don't mind - and yes of course I will link back to your page

Glad you like it! Thanks for sharing!

Dress up your alcoholism!

Easy enough... Thanks open.

Fine, thanks for showing it!

Is it possible to make these type lights with the regular smaller Christmas lights instead of the C7 lights? I know I can order the C7 lights but I wanted to get started on these sooner rather than later and hate waiting on things to be shipped!!

Anything is possible! That said, I don't think there is enough light output from mini light to make the cup glow, but you could easily test that out if you have a string of those lights and a cup. You may also have issues keeping the mini light stuck in the cup. My honest suggestion is to be patient and use C7 lights rather than potentially wasting time or materials. Best luck and let us know if you have success with the mini lights!