One of my favorite ways to “dress up” a table for a sit-down dinner is with a floating candle centerpiece. There’s just something very elegant about candles floating inside bowls of water. It really creates a special ambiance! Not only that, floating candle centerpieces can actually be a lot less expensive than a more traditional fresh flower table centerpiece—that is, if you make the floating candle centerpiece yourself.
In this post, I’m going to share some of my ideas on this topic. I’m inserting a few photos of some of the floating candle centerpieces I’ve done in recent years—just to help you envision the kinds of centerpieces you can make with floating candles. But there’s no end to what you can do! This is something you can get really creative with.
These kinds of centerpieces can be very simple productions, using just 3 or 4 items, or be quite elaborate and require lots of different elements. Either way, they’re simple to put together. What I like about them is you can assemble them days in advance of your dinner party—unlike fresh flowers, which are usually arranged relatively last minute while they’re looking their best.
The basic supplies you will need are: the floating candle(s); a glass bowl or vase (with a large enough open area for your candle—or candles—to float on); colored glass stones, crystals, shells or marbles to put inside the bottom of the vase (and possibly to set around the vase as well); a mirrored tile to set your bowl or vase on; and possibly ribbons, fabric tassels, crystal bands or organza wrap to put around the vase, or silk flowers, gold or silver foil or silk rose petals for setting around the base of the glass bowl.
You could also use real rose petals from freshly-cut roses for your centerpiece. Just place a small handful of rose petals inside the glass vase, and then fill with water. Dampen a few other rose petals and place them on the sides of the bowl. If the petals are damp enough and if the sides of the vase are flat, the petals should adhere pretty easily.
Once you start shopping around for your supplies, you will notice a wide variety in floating candles, vases and bowls. The glassware you might use runs the gamut from round fish-bowl shaped glass containers and large martini glasses and wine goblets, to vases shaped like cylinders, hourglasses, large parfait glasses and sundae bowls.
In addition to the basic tea light and half-dome shaped floating candles, you can find floating candles that are shaped like roses, rosebuds, dahlias, hibiscus, daisies, sunflowers, orchids, spheres, seashells, leaves, hearts and stars. Be sure that your floating candles fit within the openings of the vases you’re planning on using.
Obviously, what you go with will depend on whether you’re planning a very formal or casual table setting, and the colors of your plates and table linens. I’ve found some very deep teal floating rose candles, which I’ve used along with gold ribbon and beads to make very distinctive centerpieces with my teal and gold bone china. But for Thanksgiving, I’ve done more casual settings and ceramic plates in fall colors. A glass bowl with orange, red and yellow leaf-shaped floating candles, framed by a wreath of silk fall leaves, was ideal for a centerpiece.
All of the floating candle centerpieces I’ve made have been using one glass container. It doesn’t have to be with just one though. I’ve seen some spectacular centerpieces using several different cylindrical glass vases of varying heights and mouth widths.
Assembling the centerpiece is a matter of just a few steps. First, make sure your glassware is clean. If you are going to tie ribbons, wrap organza or do any other décor to the outside of the glass container, do it before you fill the vase. Then place your marbles, beads, shells or stones in the bottom of your glassware. Fill the bowl/vase with water, to about 1 to ¾ inch from the top. Set the vase on the mirrored tile. Scatter any rose petals or other items around the base of the vase. You can do all this way in advance of your dinner party (I’ve done all this 24-36 hours before a party). Right before your guests arrive, carefully place the floating candles on top of the water and light the candles.
If you don’t want to do it all yourself, you can buy floating candle centerpiece kits online through a number of different Internet retailers. My favorite is Surroundings (www.surroundings.com). Their kits include everything needed for making one centerpiece in a particular design. You can also get some great ideas for making your own designs by checking out Surroundings’ website.
Surroundings also sells all of the supplies you could possibly need for making floating candle centerpieces. They carry some unique items like acrylic bubbles, wire orbs and small disco balls for decorating the vases and bowls, and a lot of specially-shaped floating candles in hard-to-find colors. Surroundings can be a bit pricey though for some items. I’ve also found a lot of supplies locally at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and other craft stores, as well as discount stores like Tuesday Morning, Target and WalMart. Local retailers like these often sell the basic supplies you need to make a floating candle centerpiece, for relatively low cost (although they don’t usually have the same selection as a specialty online retailer like Surroundings).
Well, that’s the basics! I hope I’ve given you some ideas for creating your own floating candle centerpiece for your next dinner party. It’s sure to add some “specialness” to your table!