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!
Side note: I can't be sure, but in the years since this very popular Instructible made the internet rounds, there have been commercially produced sets of these string lights available for sale at many retail outlets. It's fun to imagine we may have had a part in their popularity, and they are very easy to make for yourself!
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.
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.
Runner Up in the
Lamps & Lighting Contest
barking_spider made it!