Joy: Letters in Light

letters in light

 I just can’t thank all of you enough for your kind words about my Joy to the World Mantel.  My family has really  been enjoying it and it is a constant reminder for me to find the joy in all of the holiday madness and really remember what we are celebrating.  I know that many of you have asked, so here it is…

Marquee Letters Tutorial


letters in light

Supplies: {affiliate links}

Step One.  The first step in fashioning your letters is to give them a quick coat of spray sealer.  This really helps the paint color to apply evenly and with less coats, paper maché really absorbs a lot of paint.  Then, you will apply your colored spray paint.  Apply as many coats until you are satisfied with the coverage.

letters in light

Step Two.  Turn your letter over so the back (and wrong side) are facing you.  You want to cut the top layer of your paper maché with your knife about half and inch from the outer edge.  I also left about half an inch one side attached, so it would function like a door.  Just open it up and you will see all what is pictured above!

letters in light

Step Three.  Now we want to turn the letter back over and get it prepared for the lights to be installed.  Because I had 30 lights and 3 letters, I allotted 10 lights per letter and tried to space them evenly.  I simply scored an x where I wanted the holes to go and kind of punched it in with the other side of the knife.

letters in light

Step Four.  Now it is time to put in the lights.  You need to plan where you will be plugging them in and start threading the lights closest to the outlet.  In my case, I started at the bottom tip of the J.  You will unscrew the bulb from the strand and then screw it back in through the front of the letter.  As you move on to the next light, just tuck the excess into the frame of the letter.  You may need to trim away some of the inside cardboard to make everything lay flat.  Once you get to the tip of the letter, move over to the next until you are done!  I simply mounted the letters on a wood pallet background with tiny nails and was good to go!

letters in light

Here are you Joy ” letters in light”!  We just love them!  Hope you all are enjoying all of the holiday preparations!

For other great holiday ideas and tutorials we have you covered!


Patriotic Projects

Christmas Projects

Christmas Projects

Click for More great Party Ideas and Tips!

Year Round Party Ideas

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Trish Flake

Author/Co-Owner at Uncommon Designs
Hey y'all! I am Trish and one half of the creative team at Uncommon Designs. I adore party planning, holiday celebrations, and all things crafty! I am so excited to share my creative adventures with you!

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  1. Oh my goodness! Yes! love this idea! Would you pretty please link this up to our blog hop?? Thank you!

    xoxo, Jordan

  2. katie goldsworthy says:

    Like I said before….I think this is the most fabulous thing ever!


  3. Brilliant!

    Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge
    I am having a fabulous holiday giveaway right here.

  4. I am in love! I have to find a place to do this in my house!!!! Great idea!


  5. Love it!!

  6. Brilliant

  7. LOVE this. i’ve always wondered what was inside those cardboard letters! ;)

  8. Brilliant!

  9. So happy to see the tutorial!! You’re so creative! I love it!!!

  10. This came out SO fantastic! I really want to use this idea to create a non-nightlight nightlight for my 5 and 6-year-old boys’ room. SUPER cool!

  11. The JOY letters are stunning. It’s a fabulous!! Fabulous project!! The whole mantel is beautiful Trish.

  12. Are you kidding?! This is seriously amazing.

    Can’t wait to make! Thank you for the beautiful idea! :)

    Merry Christmas and much JOY to you and yours!

  13. Love it!! Would you be able to explain a little more about how you mounted them to the wood?

  14. these really are awesome!!

  15. I am in love with this idea! Amazing! xo

  16. Very clever!! I would have NEVER thought to do that. SO pretty!

  17. Crazy cool! I am SO going to do something like this… I will just have to come up with the perfect project! Thanks for the great inspiration!

  18. This is the best use of paper mache letters I have ever seen!!! It looks awesome on the mantel!!! Love the wood behind it!

  19. I love it!!! So darn creative and SO FUN!!!

    Great job!


  20. holli swarts says:

    i would love to know after tucking the lights into the letters did you then hide the rest of the wire behind the wood. ? i dont see any wire trailing across the front to the next letter.

  21. What lights do you use that won’t burn the letters?

  22. Mae zaragoza says:

    How do you utilize the lights so they don’t show cord between each letter? This is pure genius!!

  23. Live this! Can you give a few more details how you put the pallet together?

  24. Can you tell us how you finished off the letters so they stay closed after you have inserted the light strands?
    Appreciate the project. Thank you for sharing.

  25. What kind of spray sealer did you use?

  26. Hello. Such a beautiful project. I cannot pin it due to no image. Is it possible to fix this? I need the details instead of relying on my memory!!!! Thanks.

  27. I am so fired up about doing this! Drove 45 minutes to get my (on sale) letters yesterday! Where did you get the pallet? I have access to some but they have spaces between the slats. Thanks for the great idea!

  28. Love these letters!! I just ordered the letters to make one of these. What size did you make your pallet board? And what kind of sealer did you use. Thanks

  29. How did you do the letter Y? Also, what size is the pallet board and what kind of wood did you use?

  30. Love the JOY. Thank you for sharing!

  31. Kori Phillips says:

    I am wondering about when you cut the letters open and leave part of the back attached like a door. If it is like a door, how do you keep it shut after putting the lights in?

  32. Love the idea but I am concerned about the paper mache letters and the lights. What keeps the lights from getting hot and burning the paper mache? Do the lights stay cool? Concerned about a fire hazard.

  33. How did you do the letter Y? I see you started from the top but I was not too sure how you finished it.
    Also, what size pallet did you use and what kind of wood is it?


  1. [...] JOY LETTERS IN LIGHT from Uncommon Designs [...]

  2. [...] wasn’t ready to take my pretty Joy letters in light down.   So I [...]

  3. [...]  The song “Joy to the World” has always been special to me, I just love the air of celebration it brings to the holiday season.  When I set out to create this mantel, I knew I wanted to include it somehow.  I first thought of the lighted marquee letters for joy.  Seriously, these letters are a blast, they are insanely large and bright and they are exactly what I had envisioned. You can find the complete tutorial of how to make the lighted marquee letters in our letters in light post. [...]

  4. […] Click here for the detailed tutorials from Uncommon Designs. […]

  5. 20 DIY Christmas Decor Ideas says:

    […] Joy: Letters in Light by Uncommon Designs […]

  6. […] off white paint.  It covers better and requires less coats, overall. We used this color on our  JOY Letters for Trish’s Christmas Mantel.   I would also say that the color is just so pretty and is the […]

  7. […] Photo courtesy of Uncommon Designs […]

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