Dorm DIY: Wax Paper Candleholders

If you’re living in a dorm, you’re likely familiar with the long lists of rules that RAs hand out at the beginning of the school year. Rules that forbid things like thumbtacks, toasters, hotplates and candles. While you might mourn the loss of toast in the morning or the ability to cook whenever you please, there is some sense in banning things that could potentially burn down an entire building. Luckily, there are safe and dorm-friendly alternatives to most items banned by colleges. Just because you live in a flame-free zone doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the pleasant glow of a candle — an electronic candle, that is. However, electronic tea lights are hardly attractive on their own, and fancy-shmancy candleholders might be beyond your student budget. To create attractive (electronic) candleholders on the cheap, follow the steps in this super easy dorm DIY. Even if you’re well beyond your college years, these charming wax paper lanterns will add warmth and beauty to your interior. — Max

Full directions after the jump . . .


  • Electronic tea lights (only use electronic lights for this project, as actual candles could cause the wax paper to burn)
  • Wax paper
  • Although it’s not necessary, you can use masking tape to keep the holder together once it’s completed.



1. Tear a strip of wax paper from a roll. It should be about a foot long. You can vary the length depending how tall you want your candleholder to be.

2. Next, bring up the folded section of paper to about half an inch below where you left the bottom of the sheet in the previous step.

3. Repeat the previous step with the next fold.

4. With your fold layers facing outward, create a cylinder by bringing each side of the wax paper together and nesting one end within the folds.

5. Pop an electronic tea light in there, and you’re ready to go!

  1. Kristen says:

    What a cute idea! I love it!


  2. Priti says:

    WOW! What a super easy and fancy idea Grace!

  3. Debbie says:

    I love this idea – it looks like the lanterns that are set up in the festival of lanterns in Thailand

  4. McKenna Ryan says:

    What a lovely idea!!! I love how you have made electronic candles look so classic. Thanks for the great idea.

  5. Jasmine Zakiya says:

    Yeeees! Going in my living room :)
    Thank you, Design Sponge.

  6. Emily says:

    Looks beautiful! Can you do this at my house?

  7. Yelle says:

    So easy! And so dramatic!

    1. abbey says:

      Hi. Since you were successful with this project, can you help me? Are there steps missing, and is it supposed to be an open cylinder or does it end with a bottom to put the candle in?

      1. Grace Bonney says:


        It’s an open cylinder.


  8. Cristina says:

    I almost popped a vessel when I saw the title of this post. I was visiting friends at NYU the night Hurricane Sandy struck, and the posters at the elevators were *extremely* clear about the “no candles, you could burn down the dorm” rule.

    I’m relieved that the post says to use electric tea lights. They look so pretty, I couldn not tell that they were not real candles. This little DIY trick is a genuine advantage.

  9. I love how it is easily done!

  10. Julian Hazlett says:

    WoW! I just made one. I will make a lot for the holidays. Thanks so much.

  11. Marjie says:

    This is wonderful! So simple, yet so elegant looking. Can’t wait to try it tonight!

  12. drajim says:

    really easy clean economical and attractive, thanks

  13. Debra says:

    What a great idea for luminarias for the holidays!

  14. R.M. says:

    We use these for all sorts of reasons for our larger parties. I recommend buying the electronic candles at dollar stores and when the batteries run out, buy new electronic candles. The batteries are ridiculously expensive.

  15. Cindy says:

    My elderly parents recently moved into an apartment in an assisted living facility. Same dorm rules! This is a great idea.

  16. Maureen says:

    These are so soft and pretty. They would be beautiful clustered for outdoors for a wedding!

  17. Nicole says:

    i love these but I still don’t understand the directions. Does anyone mind breaking it down a little bit more. I’m sure it is super easy. thanks!

  18. Very cool use of a pretty mundane product. Maybe wax paper should come in colors now.

  19. rbjaneite says:

    Very cute! And you could probably use crayons to shade the wax paper if you wanted a bit of colour, I guess.

  20. Karen Adams says:

    I would put a layer of tissue paper if you wanted colour.

  21. Bonnie says:

    I just tried this DIY for extra lighting in Christmas decorations in my boutique and it looks great! It is such a simple, easy, inexpensive project!

  22. Katherine says:

    Hi- i think there is a step missing between 1 and 2. Can someone who has made this clarify how to start? I can’t get it to come out. Thanks!

  23. Chetan says:

    Wow Awesome Idea, Any one can make easily. Thanks for sharing such nice dorm DIY


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