If you’ve used candles as pumpkin lights, you’ve likely encountered one of the many problems they present. From getting blown out due to a breeze to falling over and burning the inside of your pumpkin, candles can end up being a pain. Well, we have an inexpensive solution that will modernize and simplify your pumpkin lighting: LED strips.

LED light strips, designed for TV backlighting, work perfectly for illuminating Jack O’Lanterns. Plus, these have numerous color settings and a remote control, and some (like the model we used) respond to sound or music. Adapting these LEDs for use as pumpkin lights is pretty simple, takes about 10 minutes, and might utilize stuff you already have.

Supplies You’ll Need:

Build the LED Light Element

First you’ll need to cut the paper towel tube to fit in the jar. You’ll wrap the LED lights around the tube so they reflect in all directions inside the pumpkin.

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fitting the paper towel tube in the mason jar
Put the tube in the jar, mark it at the top edge, and trim the tube so that it will just fit inside with the lid on.
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installing the led light strip
Cut a short slit in one end of the tube. Now, slip the LED strip through the slit, with the wire on the inside of the tube.
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wrap the led light strip around the tube
Wrap the LED strip lights around the tube.
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trim the led light strip
When you get to the end of the tube, you can cut the LED strip across the line on the copper contacts.
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secure the end of the led strip with tape
Cut a slit in the end of the tube, slip the LED strip through it, and secure with a piece of tape.
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Make a Light Diffuser

Use the sheet of tracing paper to make a light diffuser. This will prevent “hot spots” and provide a softer, even light.

making a light diffuser
Hold the sheet of tracing paper in landscape format next to the jar, and mark it just below the top edge. Draw a line across the paper and cut the top portion off.
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making a light diffuser
Loosely roll up the tracing paper and put it in the jar. It should naturally try to unroll a little, holding it against the sides of the jar.
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Make a Hole in the Lid

You’ll need to drill a hole in the lid to pass the power cord through. We’ve installed a grommet in the hole to prevent damage to the wire, but you could wrap the wire with electrical tape instead to help protect it.

making the lid for the led light fixture
Use a stepped drill bit to drill a 7⁄8-inch hole in the center of the lid. The hole has to be large enough to pass the USB plug and the LED controls through. Slip the grommet over the plug and LED controls, slip the lid over them too, and then fit the grommet into the lid.
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Assemble the LED Light Fixture

Now all you have to do is assemble the pieces.

led pumpkin light assembly
Drop the tube in the center of the jar, slide the lid into place, and secure with the threaded lid retainer.
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testing the led pumpkin light
All that’s left to do is plug the USB into and AC power brick, and you’ve got an LED pumpkin light!
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Light Up Your Pumpkin

To use the light in your pumpkin, place it in the bottom, upside down. This makes for a flatter base, more so than the bottom of the jar, for stability. Test out all the color options to see which you like best.

led jack o'lantern lights
Bradley Ford