Maximising that subtle Christmas sparkle comes from collecting and displaying an array of candle holders. Group them together using a variety of different textures, heights and shapes.
Think uneven numbers for arrangements on tables and worktops. Three or five in a group is the way to go. Balance is key if you are putting holders on a mantelpiece. The same number of holders at either end of the mantel is most effective. Again, silver, grey and white holders will more willingly lend themselves to a winter feel. Vintage-style holders, perhaps with a mirrored finish or antique appliqué, work marvellously well. The warm amber glow from candlelight will balance wonderfully with stark winter grey or beautifully enhance the seasonal reds, greens and golds. Whatever the holder, whatever the size, whatever the style, the common denominator is the flickering flame itself. It is a simple beauty, unsurpassed.
The fact they are enclosed means hurricane lamps are better for leaving in hallways, where draughts may blow wax onto surfaces. The theory of never leaving a lit candle unattended is a sound one, but a pillar candle resting well below the rim of a hurricane lamp should happily burn away without constant attention. Just be certain not to have a tall pillar candle in a smaller lamp, so the wick protrudes from the top. That could be a fire hazard. Candle safety is paramount.
Safer even than hurricane lamps, lanterns have lids – and that makes them perfect for indoors and out, hallways and windowsills. See thewhitecompany.com and nordichouse.co.uk for a wide and splendid selections, perfect for rooms in transition from winter to Christmas. A large, floor lantern looks wonderful in a hallway. Groups of three lanterns of different heights are perfect for hallway tables and consoles. And having lanterns lit on windowsills is one of the best ways to proclaim your house has a warmth awaiting any who enter.
Buy a stash of tea-lights and fill holders galore to dot around the house. This is an inexpensive way of spreading the amber glow. Plus, tea-lights in holders that have higher sides than the flame are safer than leaving a taper candle burning in a candlestick. Tea-light holders can beautifully illuminate a dinner or buffet table. Clear and textured glass, silver and vintage holders work best for the winter room. Tea-lights are the tiny, treasured gems of the candle world.
Elf Helper: Check out Luna Lighting – Designer & creator Anna Perring has been developing her range of playful ivory-white porcelain tea-lights since 2006. Her aim is to create work that captures the purity of porcelain yet is uplifting and makes people smile. All are handmade in her Central London studio. See the collection at hiddenartshop.co.uk/collections/luna-lighting.
They can also fuel the swirling delights that are carousel holders (pictured right). As the candles burn the intricate decorations turn. Pols Potten make an exquisite silver Christmas tree, topped by a star, while Stylys produce delicate Filigree Carousels. The decorative attachments include angels, snowflakes and parcels. You will find a selection in store at John Lewis or across many stockists online.
For a final flourish, why not treat your pillar candles to a candle bracelet. Essentially decorative mixes of beaded cords and wire, they can be wrapped around a plain candle to twinkle and sparkle in the light. Choose non flammable embellishments for your bracelet. For a more natural look, small sprigs of Christmas greenery can be used to good effect. Just ensure that the decorative bracelet is towards the base of the candle and therefore away from the flame – and as always keep a close eye on lit candles.