Luminaries are not only fun, but play double duty for party decorations and center pieces. A little extra care should be taken if you plan to use them outside or with actual candles. To use luminaries to light up your outside walkways you'll want to choose paper bags that are likely to be more weather proof. Flimsy, inexpensive paper lunch sacks may not last the evening, use bags with heavier paper. Plain gift bags are a good choice.
To use with real lighted candles add a few inches of sand to the bottom of each one. Nestle the candle into the sand in the center of the bottom. This will keep the flame well away from the bag as well as provide weight that will prevent the luminary from shifting or tipping in a breeze. If you like the idea of lighted luminaries, but not the idea of real candles use battery operated tea lights.
When you have chosen your bags making the luminaries is easy. You'll need scissors or dye cuts, and a hole punch sometimes comes in handy. When choosing patterns keep in mind the ages and abilities of your helpers. Young children will do better with simple patterns or dye cuts. Older kids will like the challenge of more intricate patterns.
Make a template then trace it onto the bag. Use the scissors or dye cuts to cut out the pattern. Use spray on glitter to add a shimmer to the finished product!
A shortcut: don't cut the patters out at all. Instead use very thin paper bags (white will work best) and glue a pattern onto the bag. Snowflakes, Santa faces, or snowmen made of heavy construction paper are good choices. You can make them out of paper the same color as the bag so they disappear, or use colorful paper so they stand out.