Growing up, my family never had candles because my parents generally understood that my brothers and I would use any open flames in the house to set our youngest brother on fire. Also my dad hated any smell that wasn’t whale bones or microwaved hominy. Recently I’ve decided that hey, I’m an adult, I have a cute house, I like pretty smells — maybe it’s time to give the whole candle thing a try. So I consulted my candle-loving friends, I rearranged my shelves, I spent a small fortune, and guess what? I have three candles burning right now, as I write this. I think I’ve officially become a candle person. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way …
1. Candles are kind of like drugs or ketchup in that they make everything better. Here are a few of the day-to-day activities that are made immensely more pleasurable with the addition of a candle burning in the background:
- Drinking wine
- Listening to podcasts
- Painting your nails
2. A candle person needs to have lots of matches and lighters. Keep reliable lighters in a few easy-to-grab places around the house, or buy some matches that are pretty enough to be kept out right next to your candles. I adore the vintage designs on Homart match boxes.
3. Candles force you to relax. So relax. I’m not actually very good at relaxing. Candles have helped me get better about it, because it’s hard to light some beautiful candles and then continue stressing and pacing around. Light your candles, sit down, pour yourself some wine, and just breathe.
4. Think outside the box, er, candleholder. Candleholders are all fine and good, but I really enjoy finding creative alternatives like mason jars, shot glasses, ceramic mugs, and saucers. If you like antiquing, keep an eye out for vintage ashtrays — they’re perfect for a cluster of tealights.
5. Candles are expensive. Luckily there’s no need to splurge on every candle you buy. Mix and match a couple swanky candles with cheap pillar candles from the grocery store or get a few packs of those IKEA tealights that are, like, a dollar for 200. You only need one candle per room with an amazing scent, the rest can be for ambiance.
6. Find your favorite scents. As with perfume, the types of candle scents you prefer are very specific and very personal. If possible, spend some time in a store that specializes in candles, and be sure to whiff some scent combinations that you wouldn’t normally be drawn to. This holiday season I was obsessed with a peppermint cranberry candle, which I initially assumed would smell disgusting before I ended up buying one the size of my head.
Are you a candle person? What are your favorite brands and scents?