Although the American economy is slowly showing minor improvements, families, wary of what may lie ahead in the new year, are still pinching pennies this holiday season. If you are feeling a little bit on the crafty side, then you would be able to satisfy your creativity while conserving gift money with candles. Candles are versatile for all occasions, but their best feature is the message of beauty, warmth, and thoughtfulness of the giver. Candles speak on many an occasion what you can not say in your heart.
The Value of Candles
Historically, candles have been used for light to read or cook by and for religious purposes. The ancient Romans were the first to develop the wicked candle, which was later also developed by the Egyptians in 3000 B.C. The wax to create candles have been derived from animal fat, bees, seeds, soy, and tree nuts. Today, many candles are manufactured from synthetic, sometimes non-ecofriendly materials.
In the Philippines, candles too have had a very practical purpose: a light source during blackouts. The poverty of the Philippines means that energy sources are very low, which creates an ideal market for many candle manufacturers. When I was a child, kids in the neighborhood taught me how to make a candle holder out of tin cans. The boys would find an empty tin can, usually a dirty one, lying on a street curb, lay it on its side and showed me how to punch two holes on either side of its round mid-section, using only a nail and a big, hard rock. A thin, metal wire, threaded through these two holes, served as the handles.
The only types of candles I remember placing in my candle holder were the thick, tall white ones we lit in church during Easter and Christmas. We had to cut the candle in half, making sure that it fit inside the tin can, and secure it in place with the melted wax. We used this make-shift lantern to light the way to each other’s homes.
The glow surrounding the wick of the candle, once lit, evokes more romantic emotions. This image for some reason always reminded me of Mary Magdalene and baby Jesus, which signaled togetherness, family time, and all the happy images associated with holiness. For others, candles evoke memories of romantic dinners, graduations, marriage, apologies, and of course, Christmas.
Gift Ideas With Candles
There are many types of candles, these days. Manufacturers have gone so far as to add scented oils to the wax, which also draws us to them for gift giving. Who, after all, does not succumb to buying a candle after smelling one infused with vanilla or wild cherry oils?
Candles, however, can be dressed up to reflect the occasion for which they are intended. Thus, instead of simply wrapping jars or sticks of candles in a box, why not accentuate them with nature’s beauties? I have two gift box ideas for enhancing candles as gifts. Both are appropriate for New England, but those living in other parts of the country can design gift boxes that reflect their natural surroundings.
- Candle log box: I discovered log boxes are popular around Western Massachusetts, having sighted them for sale in major supermarkets. None, however, feature the candle as the center piece. To design this signature style log box, you will need a chisel and an electric drill, a dry log that you can easily find in the woods, a scented candle of your choosing, cuttings of pine or spruce, and/or mistletoe sprigs. Drill and carve out a deep, elongated hole in the log the size of its length and the width of the candle. Make sure the bottom of the ditch is flat to allow the candle to sit securely in there. Insert enough spruce and pine cuttings to cover the opening of the hole. Add mistletoe sprigs as desired.
- Candle gift box: The candle gift box is much easier to assemble, but involves the same basic materials. With this gift, I like to add variety to the candles, choosing candles with subtle, non-intrusive scents, and different sizes. I also like to select candles that I think reflect the value of the recipient. For the gift box, I like the square, deep ones with prints on the surface of the box. Place tissue, wrapping paper at the base of the box and place the different candles on the tissue wrapping. Arrange the pine and spruce cuttings in the box and around the candles to render a romantic appearance. Mistletoe, wild chestnuts, and winter blueberries can also be included in this assembly.