Pop the cork and crack open another box of Tampax – champagne won’t be the only thing that’s flowing this New Year’s. While millions watch the big ball drop in Times Square, you can liven up your party by lowering your own twinkling replica made of tampons illuminated with LEDs. Here’s to a Happy New Year of monthlies.
Poke a hole through the center of the Styrofoam ball with a skewer. Cut a piece of wire about 6 inches long, twist a loop on one end, and insert through the foam ball. Bend the other end to secure.
Remove tampons from applicators. Set the tampons aside and separate the applicators into narrow tubes and wider tubes. Stick the narrow tubes into the Styrofoam ball, distributing them as evenly as possible. This is just to get their placement correct, so don’t worry about jamming them in too hard – you just want to make an indentation.
Carefully remove the tubes from the foam. Place a dot in the center of each indentation with a marker to make relocating them easier. Replace the tubes, hot gluing the ends into place. Make sure the end with the ridge is pointing up.
Use the utility knife to split the wider tubes lengthwise. Start at the ridged end and cut down toward the plain end, leaving the last inch uncut.
Take eight of the tampons, flatten and spread them out to their full length, and cut them crossways into five pieces each. Cut the string off and discard. Starting with the first light at the end of the string, insert the LED and wires up into the cut end of the tampon tube. Poke the LED out of the end about an inch, wrap a section of tampon around the light, and stuff it back into the tampon tube. The top of the LED and a little bit of the tampon should stick out of the tube. Repeat for the remainder of the 40 tampon tubes.
A Note About Lights: We used LED string lights, which are like Christmas lights but are very small and have very thin, flexible wiring. The distance between the lights was about 4 inches. Since they were imported, we had to use a 120V to 220V step-up converter plug.
Slip the wires into the slits on either side of the tubes and push them up as far as you can. The wires should be protruding from about the middle of each tampon tube. Starting again with the first light in the string, hot glue the top tube onto a narrower bottom tube inserted in the foam ball. (Hint: Pushing them down farther will give you more useable slack wire between lights.) Repeat with the next light, gluing it onto an adjacent tube. Since this is like connecting a bunch of dots with a single line, it can take a bit of planning. You may want to place the lights first without gluing them before committing.
Tie monofilament to the wire loop and string through the hook or pulley mounted on a ceiling or doorway. Hoist the ball, plug it in, and let it drop at midnight.