How to Make Constellation Cans

How to Make Constellation Cans

Thug Kitchen Party Grub | Rodale Books, 2015

If you’re anything at all like us, the most glam your front walk or backyard gets when you have folks over for dinner parties is a simple string of lights dangling from the tree branches and, if it’s late October, perhaps a jack o’lantern or even a fairytale pumpkin in a spooky shade of blue. This despite the fact that we’ve amassed several lifetimes’ worth of outdoor entertaining inspiration from old issues of Martha Stewart Living and that Pinterest tab we keep open at all times.

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We recently happened upon another idea for some simple sorcery, although this time our unlikely fairy godmother is a foul-mouthed cookbook geared toward party grub for the millennial crowd. The instructions on how to make constellation cans screamed at us for their simplicity, yes, but also because of that repurposed industrial chic thing we’re seeing so much of lately. It costs next to nothing if you’re the sort who buys tinned tomatoes cans of all sizes (no BPA, please). And it’s a throwback to a simpler time when a can, a hammer, and a nail held untold potential.

Harness your custom constellation cans as centerpieces on your backyard table or set them along your front walk so little ghosts and goblins can make their way in the dark. And rest assured, no one expects you to actually nail holes in a pattern that replicates or even remotely resembles the actual nighttime sky. —Renee Schettler Rossi

Don’t waste your cash on some crappy centerpiece you’ll never use again. Keep your money and set the mood by saving all those cans you’ve been using for beans and tomatoes and whatever.

Rinse out the empties, peel off the labels, and poke a bunch of holes in the sides with a hammer and a nail. Drop tea lights inside and call them constellation cans.



  1. Don’t throw away the lids! One year, when I was a kid, my Mother made Christmas ornaments from them. She cut strips around a center circle of the lids with metal cutters and curled the strips into various configurations using needle nosed plyers. She dipped most in clear glue and sprinkled with glitter or whatever other small items she could find. They were very pretty. The edges are sharp so you have to be very careful, it’s not a project for young children.

    1. Thanks for that, Susan. And yes, I can imagine edges have must be wicked sharp. Not something we suggest for homes with small children, folks. But it’s a great idea!

  2. I’m going to make these for luminaries at Xmas time and will try using a cordless drill.

    BTW I like the edit option.

  3. I’ve found that filling the cans with water & freezing them keeps the cans from denting when you hammer in the nails.

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