Make: Black Cat Paper Bag Luminaries

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.

Use brown bags and simple cut paper shapes (or our template) to make your own Halloween black cat paper bag luminaries! | from barley & birch

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!

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!

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

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*

BASIC SUPPLIES:

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

DIY Black Cat Luminary Instructions:

  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Make your 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

  6. Glue the cat to the front of your 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

  7. Light!

    Place a flameless candle inside your bag to light.
    Place a flameless candle inside your bag to light. | via barley & birch

Absolutely fang-tastic, n’est pas?! And check out how they light up the steps of our 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!).

These easy black cat paper bag luminaries make the cutest DIY Halloween front porch decor! | from barley & birch

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).

Use paper bags and simple cut paper shapes (or our template) to make your own Halloween black cat luminaries! | from barley & birch

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 frames printable make perfectly spooky print-and-go drawing prompts. Or dress up the cutest set of little haunts with our printable costume-a-ghost sticker set.


*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 Amazon or Woodpecker 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!

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Amanda E.
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.

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