Candlelight was the first—and for centuries, only—truly reliable source of flattering illumination at outdoor dinner parties. No more. Here are five up-to-date lanterns, all of which use high-efficiency LEDs to light things up.
Above: Molo Design's Hobo Lanterns owe their glow to light-emitting diodes (doesn't that sound so much more melodious than the acronym "LED"?) inside simple felt bags. With battery packs, they're portable. We'd like an assortment to light the patio this summer; $100 each.
Above: Un Sac de Lumière is a set of four white waxed paper bags and tea lights, all hung with a piece of wire; $16 each.
Above: The rechargeable Portable LED Lantern comes in two colors, white or amber; three levels of brightness can be controlled by touch. It's $79.99 at Mr. Light.
Above: The rechargeable Luau can be dimmed by twisting its base; $199.99 from Oxo.
Above: The battery-powered Soji Solar Lantern is white; a colored LED inside is responsible for the amber glow. We'd hang a cluster in a tree at the far edge of the garden.
Above: Ikea's solar-powered Solvinden Lantern ($14.99) uses the sun to recharge its built-in battery; after nine to twelve hours of sunlight, it will last for up to twelve hours.
(N.B.: Happily, the price has been cut to $17 since the last time we admired it.)
N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on March 27, 2012.