Picture of Sparkleball (no-melt) for the Holidays!
A sparkleball is a magical ornament handmade from plastic cups and mini-lights; usually displayed at Christmas or holiday time.

You'll need 50 soft 9 oz. tumbler-style plastic cups, a hole-puncher, a drill with a 1/2" bit, a string of mini-lights (100-150), and 200 small zip-ties. (recycled clean cups will work perfectly as will an old string of mini-lights.)
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Step 1: Drill the Cup Bottoms

Picture of Drill the Cup Bottoms
Drill the cup bottoms of all 50 plastic cups. You can stack and drill 2-3 at a time. The holes should be about 1/4 to 1/2" wide, or large enough to insert one or two mini lights.

Step 2: Punch Holes

Picture of Punch Holes
With a hand-held hole-puncher (the kind for punching holes in paper), punch 4 holes evenly spaced around the top of all 50 cups. Place the holes just under the raised lip. Each hole should have a hole directly opposite, but just eyeball the placement.

Step 3: Layer One

Picture of Layer One
Arrange 12 cups in a circle. Attach each cup to the cups adjoining, using a zip-tie through the holes. Do not tighten the zip-ties until all the cups are connected. Then cinch each zip-tie tightly, one by one, making sure the ring of cups stays flat. Trim zip-ties.

Step 4: Layer Two

Picture of Layer Two
There are 9 cups in Layer Two. Place one cup on top of Layer One. With a zip-tie, connect this cup to the cup it sits on top of. Do not tighten the zip-tie all the way. Now add a second cup. Attach it with a zip-tie to the cup it sits on top of. When all 9 cups are situated on top of Layer One, forming Layer Two-- then attach each cup to the cups on either side. Every cup in Layer Two will be attached at three points. When all the zip-ties are in place, go around the ring, tightening and trimming all zip-ties.
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swinner5 hours ago
took about an hour and cost about $20 in materials. but it was fun and my 6 year old was able to help.

Very pretty... is this likely to blow up...being plastic

We still have my grandma's from the 60's and it works well! Never had any problems with melting or other damage, even with the old style bulbs in it.

unlikely to blow up unless you use explosive s
kirkb1504 days ago
I've wanted to make one of these for 30 years. Half way done. Using white 50 light LED strand that cost $5. Making another with multi-color strand next.
Ward_Nox5 days ago

2 suggestions

one use a string of solar powered/activated lights then you don't hve to wory about them turning on and off and it keeps your power bill down

Two use spray adhesive and spray crystal glitter on it then hit it with a layer of either spray paint or matte clear coat it will keep the glitter from comming off on your hands

So so so pretty!!

jcannizzo6 days ago
I'd love to see a green sparkle all from cut wine bottles. I bet that would beautiful.
Raitis7 days ago

Nice one! I think I may try to make a glass one eventually.

markn529 days ago

MY grandma made me one of these 20 years ago (it still works, never had to replace a bulb). It never gets hot, and I have never had a problem with it. Using todays LED bulb will produce even less heat. As always you need to make sure that your set up is safe. I can only say that mine has never been hot or affected the cups at all.

lotta.skogberg made it!2 months ago

Hello from Finland!
This is an amazing idea! Just got my 11.8oz cup ball made.102 cups the ball contains. Stapled instead of using zip-ties. I am going to hang it as an bedroom lamp from the ceiling, with a led light bulb inside the ball. A led light bulb does not get hot in use so it is safe. :) Thanks again for this brilliant idea! Looking forward for x-mas to make even more balls to give away maybe even as gifts :) Loving it!!

ErwinM3 months ago

May i ask if this is safe? Will it not melt the cup if lights are on for hours? Thanks!

reltorro7 months ago

I have a question. Once one half is completed, do you start the other half with nine on top of the first half, or a whole new twelve? Is it 4-9-12-12-9-4 or 4-9-12-9-4?

sparkleball_lady (author)  reltorro7 months ago

Hi! You make both halves exactly the same. first layer=12, second=9, third=4. Then when you put it together, you put the two layers of 12 against each other. Make sense?

wlillis10 months ago

Informative tutorial to make your celebrations more enjoyable and special.

prachilele1 year ago
thank u so much 4 such a beautiful tutorial :) i loved it.
sparkleball_lady (author)  prachilele1 year ago
My pleasure!
monkeymays1 year ago
Great project for Christmas, and ever so pretty! My mom made me one in the late 80's and I had that thing for years. She used the multi-funtion light set but after several years use eventually only one color of lights were left working.
She used hot glue to secure hers, but I sure like the one pictured that had beads strung in with the zip ties.
Thanks for the great tut!
FrozenStar4 years ago
Pretty cool concept.
It would be awesome if you hooked some of these up into a sequencer so they could flash in a pattern.
sparkleball_lady (author)  FrozenStar4 years ago
GroggDog4 years ago
I don't recomment this for people where it's cold in the winter lol. Tried this last year and after the christmas when I were going to take in back in it collapsed and all the cups cracked and all. If you wan't to do this where's cold then wait untill the summer or something
sparkleball_lady (author)  GroggDog4 years ago
Interesting. I know there are people who use them where it snows alot and in places like MN. Maybe it's the kind of cups or the method of putting it together you used? I've heard HotGlue won't hold in cold weather. But this is the first word I've heard of the cups shattering. :-(
Sparktacular! Love the idea, :)
Dr.Bill4 years ago
Well its December 10 and I am goimg to RAID the christmas light stores in a few weeks for the cheap lights. I like to use LED kine lights for long lasting display.
The SparkleBall me and my sis made for an Indian festival of lights called Diwali...
Dear AntzyP,

May I post your photos on ? They are wonderful and would be the first made for Diwali! Will you email me at or here and let me know. I didn't want to download without your permission. If yes, tell me your first name and where you live so I can put you on the sparkleball map.

Thanks again!

I wouldn't mind at all, you can go ahead and you can download it. It will be awsome! :)
I'll mail them to you as well.

Thanks for the great instructable. Had a lot of fun making it and got a lot of compliments too...

New Delhi, India
NEW DELHI, INDIA! Antzy, that is so cool. I can't wait to put you on the sparkleball map. You will be the first marker in Asia. If I have any trouble downloading, I'll contact you again. Best wishes to you and your sister!

Sonoma CA
Thats great! I've mailed you the images in case you have any trouble...
Kryptonite6 years ago
I believe that you could make one of these out of plastic clear shot glasses, so you get a really small one. Could you? regards, Kryptonite
sparkleball_lady (author)  Kryptonite6 years ago
Dear K, I've made a mini-ball out of condiment cups (like you get ketchup in at hamburger places.) But a man in Australia built a really beautiful smaller ball made out of red shot glasses. Not sure how he did it but you can see photos of his mini and mine at []. Alex
one coudl use thimbles too
Where do you get the ties from? Can you buy them separately? Thank you.
sparkleball_lady (author)  koda16 years ago
Koda, You can buy them at any hardware store or Home Depot. My husband introduced me to them, and they come in very handy for a variety of uses. I can't live without them now.
Hey Yeah, that dude in Australia did what I'm thinking about, which is good cause I live in aus too so I can probably get all the stuff. Thanks for the reply, Kryptonite
sparkleball_lady (author)  Kryptonite6 years ago
Well, Aussie Kryptonite, if you do make a shot-glass sparkleball, I'd love to see how you do it. So I hope you post it here and let me know. The one Rob made is one of the prettiest ever. I know he used like 100 cups, but the trick is always making the ball come out round and it's harder when the cups have straight sides. . .
Rightio then! I may or may not make this, I'm a bit busy with school at the moment. Although, for the good instructable, nice attitude and quick replies I'll give you a 4.5/5. Thanks for posting! Kryptonite
jmahurin405 years ago
I've been making these for years.
I have gave gobs away for gifts and sold alot of them.
I usally use the 16 function lights from walmarts.
I've sprayed some with snow that comes in the can and used the plain colorful twinkling lights and they were pretty hung outside.
I use a sodiering iron to make my holes in the my solo cups for the lights and and then use a small high temp. glue gun to melt the cups together.
No hot glue used just the hot glue gun tip.
I had 2 use the sodiering gun to melt off the built-in  stand on the glue gun to fit it into my cups.
They are nice to use on floats in parades if people have a way 2 hook up to electric.
I've made some with plastic medicine cups.They were kinda hard 2 make exactly round and were very tedious but were cute.Some came out in an egg shape but were nice for
one could use staples to hold them together too
sparkleball_lady (author)  jmahurin405 years ago
I'd LOVE love love to see any photos you have.  What great ideas!  If you get in the sharing mood,  I'd love to show your sparkleballs off on   It's a totally free, just for fun, sharing website.  If you're interested lemme know.  Or you can go to the "contact" page.  I'd especially love to see the snowflake ones.  Never seen that before.  Happy Holidays!  (OR just post your photos here?  Easy to do with the "Add Images" button.)
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