Do It Yourself: Jar Lights

By Ponch Membreno, manager of the Horny Toad/Nau Outlet Store in Freeport, Maine

I usually make these around the winter holidays, but they end up getting left up all year long. Their glow is really nice and warm – perfect for windows or any space you want to redefine. You can make them varying sizes (depending on the jar and corresponding light bulb). Used or “vintage” canning jars are a cool touch, and you can usually find those at yard sales and “antique” stores. I also use brand new glass jars.  Either way, it’s an inexpensive way to change the look of your store.

The nice thing about making these jar lights yourself is that you get to choose the jar, the light, and the length of the cord. You pick where to hang the light and you just need to buy bulk cord long enough to get power to it. If you ever change where you want to hang the light, you can cut the cord or buy a new cord and just rewire it.

Making them is super easy. If you don’t trust yourself, just have a good conversation with your local hardware store. If they have a decent electrical supply section they should also have someone who can talk you through this and give you confidence.

Parts List:

  • canning jar with lid
  • lighting socket – has to fit inside jar with bulb attached
  • lightbulb – get one that adds the right amount of light
  • strain relief cord connector – clamps the wire so that the weight of the jar is not on the ends of the wire where it connects to the lighting socket – there are many types of these connectors
  • wire – get from the bulk wire section at your hardware store
  • unwired plug – make sure the wire fits your plug
  • brass olive – from the plumbing supply section – makes a perfect hole in the lid for the size fixture I’m using. You could also drill.



    1. Cut a hole in the lid to match the combination of lighting socket and strain relief.  I used a “brass olive” and hammer. I got lucky that I found a brass olive the exact size to fit the strain relief connector. If you don’t get that lucky, a drill with proper size bit will work.
    2. If you have a “hot” bulb, you may want to drill some small holes in the lid to let heat escape.
    3. Set the strain relief through the lid.
    4. Pass the wire through the strain relief and connect to the light socket.
    5. Set the strain relief so you can pull on the other end of the wire without pulling on the connection between the wire and the socket.
    6. Add the lightbulb and screw the jar lid back on.
    7. Connect the plug head to the other end of the wire and test – if all your connections were correct, you should be all set!