There’s nothing like an exquisitely scented candle to warm the cockles, writes Vicci Bentley. Fair enough, they’ve become the default gift, replacing soap and bath cubes – and they are the ideal dinner party gift for someone you like, but don’t really know. Yet their huge popularity is founded on a universally appealing thought. These dark days around the Solstice, there’s poetry in giving and receiving warmth and light. That flickering flame is not only profoundly comforting – like a miniature log fire – the aroma it releases is, in my book, the ember-kindler that wishes wellbeing on a home. And, since we’re all so hag-ridden by technology, the simple, ancient gesture of lighting up is the cue to switch off from pressure strife, while the heavenly scent can help us believe there can be peace on earth.
But will it fight with the food? Not if it’s chosen for ambience, the experts tell us. ‘In the dining room, stick to warm and welcoming aromas such as citrus and amber which won’t wrestle with the turkey,’ advises Tim Duggan-Rees of Dublin-based Rathbones who have been making candles since the fifteenth century. Even better, a candle in the hallway gives a warm and wonderful welcome. ‘We like to place candles on a windowsill, so light flickers through the frosty glass,’ Tim adds.
They’re a chic touch of luxury, but statement candles cost a bomb, so best make the most of them. Burn candles for two or three hours before guests arrive to open up the scent to your house. Trim the wick before lighting up again to reduce smoke and ensure even burning, but not so short that it ‘drowns’ in its own wax. And (this should go without saying) never burn candles unattended or where kids and pets can get at them. ‘Elf ‘n safety notice over, chestnuts, mulled spices, pine needles – bring them all on. Last year I gave candles with Victorian silver plate snuffers I found for around a fiver on Portobello Market. If flames must eventually be extinguished, might as well do it in style. Here’s what I’m snuffing now…
Rathbones Cedar, Cloves & Ambergris Scented Classic Candle, £30 (available HERE) Beeswax with a pomander aroma of orange peel and cool, spicy cloves. The frosted white glass easily fits in with festive decs.
Fornasetti Promfumi Armatura Scented Candle, £125 (available HERE) The sheer Fornasetti whimsy never fails to make me smile. This time, muse Lina Cavalieri wears a platinum helmet on the collectable porcelain beaker. When I first sniffed the ‘Otto’ scent, I wanted to wear it. That heavenly, incense-y birch tar!
Parfums Roja Essence of Christmas, Christmas Snow, £95 (available HERE) Perfrumer Roja Dove’s idea of a pine forest under a blanket of driven snow. Cheeky hints of candyfloss and cocoa sugarplum the ice.
Ormonde Jayne Etoile Mini Candle Set, £72 (available HERE) Cosy and spicy with cardamon, cinnamon, mandarin and amber. The four black and gold candles are great for table decs or same scent, different room scenarios.
Clarins Limited Edition Tonic Scented Candle, £55 (available HERE) OK, so I slipped in a spa candle. Aromatic, soothing and cleansing, this is the one for flopping in the bedroom to when it all gets a bit much…