Sunday, November 12, 2017

Reader Question: Holiday Candles and Candlesticks

Photos by Salt Water New England
Reader Question for the Community:
I am planning my Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner table settings, and am trying to decide which kinds of candles others think are best for the occasion. I imagine your readers have some elegant settings and I would like their opinions. If using tapers, do you use beeswax, soy, or traditional? Have you found a particular candle to be truly dripless? Also, what kinds of candlesticks do you usually prefer? Brass, crystal, ceramic or silver?




18 comments:

  1. I am not sure what to say about candle selection, but it's most important to pick something that goes with the rest of your decor and the mood of your house. Since I live in a 17th century house and the dining table faces a 7 foot fireplace, pewter candlesticks with bayberry candles look great. Consider the rest of your dishes and the age of your house. Crystal might look stunning on a glass-topped table or a white table cloth in a more modern house, silver or brass maybe in an 18th or 19th century house, but there are no rules as far as I know...just what pleases you and looks charming together as whole.
    On the other hand my husband (who spent his early years as a chef) has very strong opinions about dishes. I always loved patterned dishes, Spode, Limoges, etc. But he says those sorts of dishes are an insult to any self-respecting chef. A plain white or cream colored plate is best because it shows off the art and presentation of the cook and puts the focus on the carefully prepared food.

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  2. A practical word of advice: be sure the candlesticks are tall enough that the candles burn above seated eye-level.

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    1. Good point. I also prefer centerpieces to be low so that you can easily see and chat with your dinner companions across the table.

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  3. My favorite candles are the Trader Joe's dripless candles. They are basic off-white candles in both pillar and taper. We stock up on them. I have a drawer full And...true to their name they don't drip. It's practically magic - I have no idea how they did it. I hosted a dinner party last night with a centerpiece that was made up of vines of Eucalyptus running down the center like a table runner and pink roses. We nested taper candles in low crystal candle holders and I was so confident the candles wouldn't drip that I put a few pillars directly on my wooden table and also used some smaller silver candy dishes that had been passed down to me as pillar holders too. They looked lovely nested inside the floral arrangement!

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  4. I'm a Colonial Candles of Cape Cod girl. I use their classic candles. But I have used bees wax as well. As for the candlesticks, use what appeals to you. These are your holidays and they should express what brings you joy. So what if the end result does not look like a magazine or blogger's tablescape?

    But if you are really unsure of your personal taste look for inspiration on Pinterest. You will probably find a common thread on all your choices. That is a clue to your taste.

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  5. I had to laugh when I read my post. A common thread ON all your choices? What a picture!

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  6. For table settings in particular, please consider unscented candles. The perfumes can sometimes mix poorly or even compete with the natural aromas of the foods. Also consider your guests overall, as many of us are allergic or sensitive to perfumes...but love that candlelight! Cheers!

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  7. I don't know if this is an old lady thing or not, but my mother always lit and then blew out the candle. Something about not having the candle looks brand new, maybe?

    If you can't find dripless candles, invest in bobeches. They will save your candlesticks and tablecloth.

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    1. My grandmother always lit and extinguished any new candle to keep away bad spirits. While I’m not convinced it works (😀), I do the same. cheers!

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    2. I think all our mothers did that.

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  8. Spot on, Patsy. It was considered bad form to have unburnt candle wicks. Dates back to the early days of electricity, when not everyone could afford it. You burned the wick so that your guest had no way of knowing if you had electricity or not, so they didn't feel uncomfortable if they didn't.

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    1. Thank you, Mr. Rowe. I always do this, as did my mother and grandmother, and I always wondered why.

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    2. Thanks Michael, that makes perfect sense. cheers!

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    3. Love that! Thanks for the enlightenment ;)

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  9. Beeswax are my preferred, from St. Gregory of Palamas Monastery (http://sgpm.goarch.org/Monastery/?cat=28). I used to pick up my tapers from the monks at St. John's Abbey in Collegeville, MN but do not have a more local supplier since I moved to Pittsburgh earlier this year. I am very pleased with these candles though and know several people who use them regularly as well.

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    1. Pittsburgh is a cool city; I grew up there during the "Steel Curtain" years (Fox Chapel). I hope you enjoy living in "The Burgh"! Hope you find your candles as well!

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  10. Dollar store candles work fine.
    Spray them with hairspray and they are dripless.

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