About this project

Nice 'n' Simple
A sparkleball is a magical ornament handmade from plastic cups and a string of mini-Christmas lights.

Learn the basics-- and the variations are endless. See more sparkleball photos at the end of instructions.



  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 1
    Step 1

    The directions may sound difficult but will make sense as you work. Build your first, and you'll be rockin' and rollin' by your second sparkleball.

    To make a basic sparkleball, you will need the following supplies: 1. A soldering iron (pictured) 2. 50 9oz Solo-style plastic cups (with slanted sides; "tumbler" style ) 3. A string of 100 lights, mini-light size. 4. Clothespins make it easier to hold cups together while you work. 5. A fan for ventilation, and you must must must work outdoors. very toxic fumes.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 2
    Step 2

    Heat the soldering iron. When hot, poke/melt a hole approx. 1/2" in the bottom of all 50 plastic cups.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 3
    Step 3

    Arrange 12 cups in a ring, as pictured(clothespins make it easier but are optional). Put the hot iron inside a cup. Press it through the side, at the base,to the next cup. (See photo below.) A welded joint forms when the melted place cools. Connect each cup to its neighbor at their bottom sides.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 4
    Step 4

    Now build a second layer of cups on top of the first ring. Use 9 cups in this layer, and again work from the cup bottoms. Space them evenly around; clothespins really help. Work cup by cup, joining it to at least two other cups. Make the joints at the cup bases or from inside the cup, at the bottom. This layer will have gaps between cups but that's ok.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 5
    Step 5

    Press the last 4 cups into the space left in the dome you've built. Once pressed in, then solder the four cups, making sure each one is joined to at least 2 or 3 other cups. (Blue cups for demonstration only)

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 6
    Step 6

    Now you're ready to thread lights into the sparkleball half. Start at the plug end (plug was cutoff from photo, but it's right by the tag which is visible.) and insert two lights into the first cup. You'll start inserting lights on the large ring you made first.
    Insert 2 lights into each hole, working from top layer into bottom and back up.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 7
    Step 7

    You must finish threading the lights in the big ring. Now you're half done. Repeat steps 1-5 to build the second half.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 8
    Step 8

    To thread lights in the second half, start-- this time-- from the opposite end of the lights. And start threading in the very center, working to the outside. When you get towards the end, it will be a bit awkward, with both halves coming together. Have the iron hot and ready to work.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 9
    Step 9

    Press the two halves tightly together, making sure the electrical plug hangs out between them. (Clothespins very handy here.) Join the halves with the hot iron, working close to the cup bottoms but being very careful NOT to melt the lights or cord.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 10
    Step 10

    When I'm finished, I go back and reinforce the sparkleball by melting a notch in all cups that touch at the rims. Be careful of hard cups or they'll crack if you force them.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 11
    Step 11

    I make a hanger from chain and "s" hooks. I melt a hole, joining two cups, and insert the "s" hook. I put my hanger opposite the plug, but some people like the plug at the top. Your choice. (Other great hangers are zipties, fishing line. . .)

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 12
    Step 12

    Plug in and enjoy. Now start your next one!

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 13
    Step 13

    Here's Monica with a mini-sparkleball made with 1 oz condiment cups and 50 lights.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 14
    Step 14

    Here's Terry with "Godzilla:" 400 (!) 10oz cups; 500 lights; 30 in in diameter; very strong wire weights to hold.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 15
    Step 15

    Here's Manola's sparkleball made with green LED lights and red mini's.

  • How to make fairy lights. Sparkleball - Step 16
    Step 16

    Here's a solar-powered sparkleball made the no-melt way by Macky, Fritz, and Blythe (11, 9, 6 yrs old. Perfect kids project! See more on http:// www. sparkleball.com , a happily non-profit and free-for-all website devoted to spreading sparkleball joy.

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Sally F.
Sally F.
I learned to make these 12 years ago and I am still thrilled every time someone wants me to make one for them. They still make me smile and I love to see people's faces when they first see the sparkleballs.
hannah g.
hannah g. · Horten, Vestfold, NO · 67 projects
i had no idea what these were when i saw the picture Tongue i might make a few of these and freak people out, hanging them in trees so they look like ufo's XD...or would i start a fire? o.o i'd better not
but thanks for hsaring your great how-to for something so very wonderful ^_^
kinda.hobby · Vancouver, British Columbia, CA
Oh my..it's so pretty! Love this project Happy
Pam M.
Pam M. · 1 project
Awsome!! make a good idea for any kind of Party !! luv it thanks for sharing!!!
Brittany E.
Brittany E.
I'm so stoked that I ran across this! I remember my mom always wanted some of these around Christmas time so I guess that will be next years project! Happy
Linda H.
Linda H.
im worried they might get on fire ><
Linda H.
Linda H.
im worried they might get on fire ><
Aurore · Marseille, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, FR · 17 projects
Woooow !! =O <3
Taylor Renae
Taylor Renae · Palm Springs, Florida, US · 14 projects
I remember seeing this when i was younger and the lady who had them was actually selling them but at like 60$ each! I'm glad I know how to make them now, the moment I get the chance I'm going to make one!
MaybeAViking · 16 projects
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