Why Christmas tree lights aren’t just for Christmas (or just for trees)

Don’t wait until Christmas to add a little sparkle to your living room. Transform a string of Christmas tree lights (and a few other household materials) into an elegant telescopic floor light today.

Not only does it look great, but it also comes with a few special features, keep reading.

Telescopic paper floor light: down
Compact and bijou…
Telescopic paper floor light: up
…tall and proud.

Firstly, a clever counterbalance mechanism allows you to adjust the height of the light by gently pulling or pushing the top of the light up or down (this also has the added benefit of adjusting the brightness, because when extended, there is one layer of paper for the light to shine through and it appears brighter).

See it in action

Secondly, as the video below shows, the lighting effect you can achieve is very funky, especially if your Christmas tree lights allow you to control the flashing sequences and colours.

Now you make one

If you are up for a challenge, make your own telescopic floor light by following the instruction below. I’ve also added suggestions on how to simplify this project underneath.

Telescopic paper floor light: how-to illustration
Can't read the instructions?

What you need

One A2 sheet of card, Foamcor board for the base, 2 wrapping paper tubes (one with a smaller diameter than the other), coins, a 1.5mm wire, a string of Christmas LED lights, glue, scissors and a craft knife.

Step 1

Find two old ‘wrapping paper’ tubes with different diameters - one needs to fit inside the other. Cut them to the lengths shown (illustration 1). Now cut two discs of foam core board 180mm in diameter. Cut a hole in one 5mm wider than the narrowest tube.

Step 2

Glue the two discs together and place the narrow tube in the centre of the hole in the top disc. Fill the gap with hot glue, ensuring the tube is vertical (use a spirit level if you have one).

Step 3

Glue a stack of coins together to create a weight (see illustration 3). Create a hook from a paperclip and hot glue it onto one end. Tie 70cms of sewing cotton (use 4 strands to make thicker) onto the hook.

Step 4

If necessary glue strips of card around the top of the inner tube until it fits snugly within the outer tube. Now use the 1.5mm wire to make the 'handle and guide wire' as shown below. Attach them to the tubes using hot glue but lower the weight into the inner tube first! Then, with the cotton running over the guide and down the outside of the inner tube (and with the weight at the top) lower the outer tube, keeping the cotton taut, until it rests on top of the base. Use hot glue to attach cotton to the bottom of the outer tube.

N.B. Be careful not to twist the tubes otherwise the cotton will snap.

Step 5

Take the LED lights and wind them around the outer tube. Use hot glue to hold them in place. Bend each LED light until it points outwards. If there is a ‘sequencer’ box glue it onto the base and make sure there’s enough slack wire for the outer tube to move freely up and down.

Step 6

Take some A2 150g card and cut it into a piece 590mm x 575mm. Crumple it and then smooth it out. Wrap it around the base and glue into position. For additional support, bend wire into a ring and glue it onto the inside edge of card.

Step 7

Cut a foam core disc 250mm in diameter. Cut a hole in the centre wider than the outer tube. Wrap with crumpled paper 590mm x 654mm in size (see previous step). Glue a circular disc, with a slit for the handle, over the hole. To finish off, glue a wire ring onto the inside edge of the card. Finally, make four feet from bent wire and hot glue them onto the base. good luck!.

Go your own way

If creating the telescopic counterbalance is too much hassle, make a fixed height floor light, it will still look great. Simply attach a cardboard tube to a circular base, as shown in Step 2, and wrap the LED lights around it. Then make a paper shade to go over the top, as in Step 6, but add a lid.

Left illustration
Right illustration