While candle holders are obviously key elements in any candle setting, all too often they suffer a sort of benign neglect.
Sometimes they’re used “just because they’re there”, and sometimes because choosing the right candle holder seems a rather daunting task.
If deciding what to use is your problem, then this handy checklist could help to simplify the process.
While glass and metal candle holders are the most popular, there is an absolutely huge variety available, in all sorts of materials.
As you run down the list, you will see that as you make decisions you are led naturally to the right kind of holder and the right kind of candle.
Making your own is also an option if you have the patience and skill – or perhaps just the patience!
1 The event
* Are you going to use the candle holder as an integral part of the event, or do you want the candle to be a minor accessory?
* If it’s a seasonal event, such as Easter or Christmas, one of the many plaster candle holders might be suitable.
Once you’ve got the setting for the event clear in your mind, you can move easily to the next point to consider, which is…
* If it’s a statement you’re after, think big and bold because anything less will probably not achieve the effect you want. But big and bold brings its own problems – solid colors probably won’t work.
Think vines, ivy, and espalier multiple candle holders, which lend themselves particularly well to larger arrangements with a number of tea lights or small jars.
If you’re going this route, you can probably justify wholesale and/or discount quantities.
* If intimate is your objective, then go with tea lights or small jar or container candle holders.
* If you want to go to the opposite extreme, then chandeliers can add a delightfully unusual touch if you have the right place to positon them, which leads to…
Where are you going to position the candles?
* For instance, if you’re going for a combination of scented candles and food (and you should think very carefully about that particular mix) then the holder needs to be off to one side, substantial enough to be noticed and to be left unattended in safety.
You want to please your guests with a suggestion of a fragrance, not overpower them or the food.
* If the setting is more intimate, then smaller is better. Don’t force your guests to crane over the candles to hold a conversation.
* On some occasions you will want to match the colors in your rooms, and on others you’ll be going for contrast.
* You also don’t want to restrict yourself to just one color of candle, so you need enough holders to allow you to mix and match.
* Remember that boldly-colored holders are more difficult to match to the candle color and to your decor.
And once you’ve decided on the right color, you’ll be led naturally to the appropriate….
Even though you’ve narrowed down the options, there are still some wonderful decisions to be made.
* You can choose between wood, bronze, silver, crystal, aluminium, metal candle holders, wrought iron, beaded holders, or natural products such as bamboo and coconut.
* Glass is obviously popular. You can either choose a completely neutral holder, or choose a colored holder that will match the candle color. Glass is particularly appropriate for votive candleholders.
* Hurricane candleholders are popular for pillar candles and are wonderful for al fresco dining. Remember to look for one with a handle if you will need to move it while still hot.
Then you only have to decide on ..
* There are a large number of animal and character shapes available, although these have to be matched carefully to the occasion.
Bees, birds and butterflies (particularly pretty when matched to tea light candles) are popular and are available in solid and transluscent colours.
* Consider slate pillar plates for the really big or multi-wick candles; in fact, lovers of pillar candles can find a wide range of coasters and plate holders, some of them beautifully decorated.
7 The candle itself
By now you should have eliminated a whole lot of possibilities; the holders you are still considering will almost choose themselves.
* For instance pillars, which tend to be chunky anyway, require more substantial holders than more delicate candles.
* If you’re going to use votive candles, remember that they must be burned in a holder, because votives are really container candles without a container. If possible go for a straight-sided container as long as the rest of the design pleases you.
The straight sides will reduce the wax pool that is formed when the candle burns, and the tighter the fit, the longer the candle will burn.
* And finally, if you’re in a languid mood, what about the charming bowls, complete with stands, that are specially designed for floating candles?