Make: Black Cat Paper Bag Luminaries for Halloween

2 weeks to Halloween and dusk already comes too early. Boo! We needed a little something to light up the nights, and these DIY black cat luminaries are just what the mad doctor ordered. Press play on the video below for a preview of their purrrr-fect warm Halloween glow…

I’m sure you’ve heard the old superstition about a black cat crossing your path, but did you know an even OLDER belief is that black cats standing guard at Halloweentime are a home’s best protection against impish spirits and ghoulish mischief-makers? Going all the way back to Norse and Egyptian mythology (and countless folklore tales from around the world since) black cats symbolize strength, safety, and protection.

All of that mysterious history made me feel like we needed to make a black cat Halloween craft of our own. Having spent many different holidays as a kid lighting up the neighborhood with DIY paper bag luminaries, it dawned on me that those classic driveway decorations combined with the concept of fearless felines were just the inspiration we needed for a DIY Halloween lantern set of outdoor decorations.

Our black cat paper bag luminaria lit with a tea light and sitting in front of a purple background.

And here’s another Halloween twist: a bit of October sorcery is at play for this DIY because I turned the template from our witch’s boots mixed media project into an absolutely divine feline! Fire up our Halloween playlist on Spotify and craft up your own cool cats to make a set of festive Halloween lanterns all your own.

Looking for more ways to light up your Halloween with simple supplies? Turn our DIY treat pails into monster lanterns for trick-or-treating. Or visit our cardboard box jack-o-lantern shape sorter tutorial – just add a tea light for adorable DIY kids’ Halloween decor!

To make your own black cat luminaries you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains either our own printable products, or Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*


  • A gift bag or paper lunch bag
  • Black construction paper
  • Tissue paper
  • Scissors
  • An X-Acto knife
  • A glue stick
  • A flameless candle

How to Make Black Cat DIY Paper Bag Luminaries – Instructions:

Trace a circle onto the front of your bag

Trace a bowl or draw a circle onto your paper bag. This is going to be the bright tissue paper moon behind our cat. Trace a bowl or draw a circle on to your paper bag | via barley & birch
I used a gift bag for our luminaries, as they were a little larger than brown lunch bags and made it easy to add a nice large moon.

Cut out the circle

Use an X-Acto knife to cut the traced circle out of the bag. Don’t forget to slide a piece of cardboard or something similar in between the layers of your paper bag so you don’t slice all the way through the other side.Use an X-Acto knife to cut the traced circle out of the bag. | via barley & birch

Add a tissue paper liner to the inside of your bag

Cut tissue paper into a large square to line the inside of the bag. I used a large square folded in two so there would be a double layer of tissue. This creates more intense color and makes the tissue more opaque (which will help hide the flameless candle inside).
Cut tissue paper (doubled) into a large square to line the inside of the bag. | via barley & birch
Use a glue stick to affix the tissue to the inside of the bag – making sure you glue it down all the way around the edges of the circle.

Trace or draw your cat on black paper

Trace the appropriate witch boot template onto black paper. You’ll notice that I cut a little further into the template to make our cat’s tail a bit more defined (see that brown line on the template?). Trace the appropriate witch boot on to black paper.
This is also a good time to cut out whiskers (paper bag scraps) a small nose (construction paper) and almond-shaped eye templates.

Make your paper black cat

Cut out your cat shape with scissors, then use an X-Acto knife to cut out the pair of almond-shaped cat eyes (cutting out the eyes will give your cats an extra Halloween-y effect!). Glue the nose and whiskers onto your cat with a glue stick.
Trace the appropriate witch boot on to black paper. Cut out, then use an X-Acto knife to cut out eyes. Add a nose and whiskers. | via barley & birch

Glue your black cat to the front of your paper bag

Use a glue stick to glue your cat to the front of the paper bag.
Use a glue stick to glue your cat to the front of the paper bag. | via barley & birch


Place a flameless candle inside the bag to finish your DIY paper bag luminary!
Place a flameless candle inside your bag to light. | via barley & birch

Absolutely fang-tastic, n’est pas?! And check out how these clever black cat lanterns light up the steps of our front porch at night…! They create such a nice warm glow on these chilly nights (just don’t forget to bring them in before autumn showers!).

Two of our black cat paper bag luminaries lit with tea lights and sitting on the front porch next to pumpkins.

We’ve named our two vigilant nightwatchmen Jet and Onyx, and they sit sentinel on the front porch steps every evening now. I like to think they’re keeping their eyes peeled for otherwordly haunts (…or mice). Regardless, they make the BEST Halloween front porch decorations.

Two black cat paper bag luminaries lit with tea lights and sitting in front of a white background.

For a Halloween coloring and drawing activity that you can prepare in a pinch, download our free printable mini Halloween doodle books. Our haunted picture frame printable makes a perfectly spooky print-and-go drawing prompt.

Halloween isn’t everyone’s thing, so for another kids’ paper bag craft that’s pure “autumn” try making our stuffed paper bag acorn portraits or a troop of paper bag mushrooms.

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

Sign up for the newsletter!

Enter your email address below to have our latest kids projects delivered right to your inbox!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *