DIY Floating Pool Lights

floating pool lantern lights

There’s something enchanting and magical about soft, glowing lights. That’s why lights are such a big hit during the holiday season. And that’s why light is an amazing way to create a stunning ambiance around your pool area.

There are lots of ways to add floating pool lights to your swimming pool. When you choose DIY options, you’ll be adding your own magic to your swimming area to create a space that is uniquely your own.

Pool Candles

We recommend using flameless candles for most of these DIY projects. This is much safer overall and there's a very simple hack you can use to prevent water from getting into the battery compartment of each light.

Wrap the bottom of each flameless candle with ordinary plastic wrap and cover this with a rubber band or a thin elastic hairband to hold the plastic in place. Cut away the excess.

Treat every flameless candle with this hack to protect them from water and you'll be ready for all sorts of floating pool light DIY projects. This won't protect lights from full submersion but it will provide protection against splashes and spills.

Paper Lanterns

floating pool lantern lights

Floating paper lanterns are a lovely sight sparkling on the surface of any pool. They look amazing and they're amazingly easy to make. You will need several sheets of parchment paper and as many plastic disposable plates as the number of lanterns you want to make.

Flip a plate over and draw a square on it with a straight edge. Make sure there's room all the way around the square on all sides—at least half an inch. Measure this, adding all four sides of the square together. You'll need to cut parchment paper to this length for each lantern you want to make.

The lanterns should be around six inches high. Cut all your lanterns first so you can assemble them all at once, too. Add an extra inch to the height and the length to account for the seams where the lantern will be folded and glued together.

Create the lantern by folding the parchment paper by one-fourth. Fold a fourth, bend it inward, and fold a second fourth, then a third, and then finish the shape. Unfold the lantern and lay it flat. Now, fold the bottom half-inch of the sheet inward all the way across the bottom of the lantern. Re-fold the lantern along the folds you established to make a rectangular shape.

Add a bead of glue all the way across the bottom flap. Now, place the lantern on top of the square you drew on the plate and press down. Fold the open edges of the lantern and glue them together to close the design.

Place flameless tea lights inside the lantern and turn them on to make the lanterns glow. Repeat this process until all your lights are assembled. You're ready to create a magical pool experience.

floating globe lantern light

Colorful Orbs

Turn the pool into a fun, lively scene using nothing more sophisticated than balloons and glow sticks. When you're just about ready for the festivities to begin, fill up some multicolored balloons with air. Drop an activated glow stick inside each balloon, then tightly knot them.

Once they're lit and knotted, drop the balloons into the pool where they can float. This is a super simple method of lighting up the pool and adding lots of color and fun. It's very easy and very affordable to create these DIY pool lights.

They will only last one night but they will be a lot of fun and add life and color to the pool for that one night!

Floating Flames

You don't need much more than a pool noodle, scissors, and flameless tea lights to create pretty floating flames on your pool. They will bob and float around on the surface of the water and they can even be reused several times once they're made.

Cut a standard pool noodle into two-inch long sections. Place a flameless tea light candle inside the pool noodle, pressing it down so that it sits in the middle of the cut section. Turn the lights on and float them across the surface of the pool to create pretty floating flames that will look magical as they skim the water.

Pool noodles are designed to float and the inner ring is just a little smaller than your average flameless tea candle. You can press the candle down inside with little force and with that, you have very simple, quick DIY floating pool lights. Easy!

Glowing Pillars

With plastic cups and plates and a little glue, it's easy to make pretty glowing pillars that will float and dance along the top of a pool. This is a quick project you can complete shortly before your event. Turn on a tea light and place it in the middle of a plastic plate.

Place a bead of glue all the way around the rim of a plastic cup and place the cup rim side down over the candle and onto the plate. Hold it there until it dries, then trim the plate to remove all overhang. This pillar can be floated on the pool to create glowing light. It'll look a bit like a mini buoy as it bounces and glides all across the water.

Psychadelic Lights

Get some empty water bottles and fill them up about half-full with water. Or, if you're a pessimist, half-empty. Just kidding.

Next, get some different shades of food coloring and add drops to each bottle to create as many different colors as you can.

Drop an activated glow stick down into the mouth of each bottle and then close the cap on each bottle. Shake them up to mix up the dye. Float the bottles on the pool to fill the area up with multicolored, glowing lights.

The glow sticks won't be usable again but they will glow in the colorful water for several hours before they go out. In the meantime, your pool will dance with lights of different colors and create a truly gorgeous and memorable experience.

Glowing Shapes

floating flower shaped pool lantern lights

Get some cookie cutters, plastic cups, and some glow-in-the-dark sculpting clay. You can buy this clay ready-made but there are also many recipes online so you can make your own if you want.

Start with standard plastic cups and cut off the tops so they are about half as tall. Roll out your clay to about two inches thick and cut shapes out of it using the cookie cutters. Stars and moons work well for this. You can also sculpt small, two-inch balls instead. Either way, place each shape into a cup.

Float the cups with the clay inside on the surface of the pool while the sun is still out. This will allow the glow-in-the-dark clay to "charge" up enough stored light. When the sun drops and night falls, the shapes will glow inside the cups and float in the water to create a stunning display.

Lotus Flowers

This project has a few more steps than the others on this list but the end result is pretty packed with "wow" factor.

Start with a standard foam sheet. Cut it into a circle that's at least six inches across. Either paint it green or cover it with glue and green paper or with green tape. Cut triangles out, about two inches wide at the base and two inches deep, all the way around the edges of the circle you just created. The top points of the triangles should point inward toward the center mass of the circle.

Now, cut up a bunch of plastic spoons. You'll want to cut the bowls off the spoons, leaving about half an inch of the handle still attached to the bowl. The spoons should be pink. If they're not, spray paint them pink. A pale pink or bright bubblegum is best.

Place one of these plastic spoon bowls upright, handle pointed down, about two inches off the center of the plate. The outward curving bottom of the spoon should be facing outward.

Create a ring of spoons, overlapping each other, right around the center of the plate in a small ring. Put a bead of glue on each spoon as you place each one. When done, you'll have a center circle ringed by the upright spoons. This is where you will place a tea light.

Form another ring of spoon bowls, convex sections facing outward, in a ring around this inner ring. You want to place the bowls down on the plate at a sharp angle. They should not be pointing straight up but they should be steeply angled so that they are nearly pointing up. Glue spoons in place as you go.

Add yet another ring of spoon bowls around these center rings, this one with the spoons also pointing up and out but at a somewhat lesser angle. You should have room to do a fourth ring of spoons, this one with the spoons almost laying flat and only slightly pointing upward.

With the tea light in the center, you now have an absolutely lovely pink floating lotus flower that will skim and bob along the top of your pool. This project is a bit time-consuming and takes a lot of materials, but these floating lights can be used several times and they certainly make a stunning impression.

Depending on the size of your pool, three to five of these lights should be enough to look cheery. That's probably just about all you'll want to make, anyway. These DIY floating pool lights are time-consuming to assemble but if you work neatly and do it well, the end result can be positively jaw-dropping.

Remember not to use a ton of glue or spoons. Not only is less more, you don't want to weigh down the lights so much that they stop floating and start to sink!

DIY Floating Pool Lights

There are all sorts of fancy floating pool lights you can get from stores, with solar-powered LEDs in all kinds of designs. But you can also take a little time and a few easy-to-get materials and put your own personal mark on your swimming pool by making your own.

It’s surprising how pretty paper, plastic, and flameless lights can be when you get a little bit crafty with them! Play around with different floating pool light projects to create a pretty swimming area full of razzle-dazzle.