Easy Upcycling: Turn a Tin Can into a Jack O’ Lantern

tin can jack o lantern

tin can jack o lantern

By Jennifer Tuohy

Being an Englishwoman, it took me a while to adjust to the uniquely American holiday of Halloween. You could drive for miles through England in October and not see one carved-up pumpkin, let alone a life-sized witch flying along someone’s roof. But here in the United States it’s like clockwork: October 1st strikes and quiet, respectable neighborhoods transform into spooky streets positively bursting with skeletons, spiders, ghosts and ghouls.

While I’m not quite at the animated-grim-reaper-on-my-front-lawn stage, my kids are. In an effort to appease them, each Halloween I turn to my trusty recycling bin and rummage for something we can transform into a suitably scary decoration for our front porch. From toilet paper roll bats and ghostly milk jug lanterns, to bottle top spiders and egg carton ghouls, there is always plenty of inspiration to be found in the depths of the blue bin.

This year we finally settled on a tin can Jack o’ lantern, as my son was excited to use the drill (parental supervision required! Safety first) and my daughter couldn’t wait to get her hands on the Sharpie (an item that any mother of a toddler will know is kept under lock and key). I was thrilled with the choice as it is quite possibly the easiest upcycling project I’ve ever done.

finished tin can jack o lanterns

To transform tin cans into spooky Jack o’ lanterns, you’ll need:

  • Tin cans with the labels removed
  • Tea lights or an LED candle
  • A Sharpie-type marker
  • A drill and a small drill bit
  • Orange spray paint


Step 1: Take the Sharpie and mark the outline of your Jack o’ lantern’s face on the can using evenly spaced dots.

draw a face

Step 2: Closely monitor the child as they drill through each dot using the smallest drill bit you have.

drilling holes in the tin can

Step 3: Place the tin can on newspaper and spray evenly with orange spray paint.

prep for painting

spray paint

Step 4: Pop in an LED candle or two small tea lights and voila!— the tin-can-to-spooky-jack o’ lantern transformation is complete.

light it up

These little guys make a great addition to our modest front porch Halloween decor. The orange string lights in particular help bring out their inner glow. I can see how easily one can become hooked on this type of seasonal scenery. Perhaps there is an LED illuminated giant grim reaper in my future after all!

Jennifer Tuohy is an enthusiastic DIY crafter and mother who is bubbling over with excitement with this year’s Halloween plans with her kids. Jennifer writes on her DIY projects for The Home Depot. To see more Halloween treats that could accompany your DIY efforts, you can visit Home Depot’s Halloween pages.

Leave a Reply

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