I don’t know about you guys, but I have a bad habit of under-estimating tasks that I take on. Organizing my wedding was one big fat example of that…times 100! For some reason, I got it in my head that I wanted to DIY everything that I could because I wanted things to be unique. The only way to make sure no one else was going to have the exact same decorations, or invitations…? To make them myself, of course! So, I made a big to-do list and got to work. We had 130 guests (of those, nearly 30 kids!) so just imagine the number of invitations, thank you cards, center pieces, and wedding favors we needed. All DIY’ed, of course.
The wedding guest gifts were one of the most challenging things to choose, because I wanted something personalized but that wouldn’t break the bank. There’s some cool stuff out there, but if you have more than 100 guests like us, it can get quite pricey. I looked into ordering monogrammed favors online, but everything we found that was actually in our budget looked pretty cheap. Then, I ran across a tutorial on Pinterest for homemade candles and I had my Eureka! moment. Miniature DIY candles it would be, personalized with special labels and ribbons and stickers and stamps and scents… you get the idea. My 10-year old self was revived, and I pretty much immediately raced to the craft store to get my supplies. I set aside a Saturday afternoon to knock out the “candle project” and planned to tick this off my list just as quickly as the idea came to me.
Reality soon set in, though, and this one was definitely a much bigger project than I anticipated. Partly, just because making 100 candles takes some time time if you’ve never actually made candles before, but also because I didn’t properly estimate supply quantities, and I had a mishap which caused me to junk a whole batch of about 30 candles. I’ll explain what went wrong, and hopefully how to help you avoid making my mistakes! I really enjoyed DIY’ing so much of our wedding and writing this tutorial brought back all those pre-wedding feelings ❤️. If you decide to take on a project like this one, I’d love to see photos! Did you DIY any of your wedding favors? I would love to see photos of those, too!
If you’re making one candle, then this tutorial will be an absolute breeze and will take you around 15 minutes all together (plus drying time). Candle making is super fun, and how cool is it to give them out as little gifts, or to have your very own homemade candles around your house!?
Let’s get started! (Please read through all of the notes at the bottom for helpful tips)
- Containers for your candles
- Candle wax
- Candle wicks
- Strong fast-drying glue or glue gun (to hold the wick in place)
- Candle perfumes/scented oils
- Prepare your work area – even if you’re careful, you will get wax on stuff. Avoid an area with carpet! I used our dining room table, covered in my “craft cloth” and a bit of newspaper.
- Next, set out all of your supplies (ie, wicks, glue, candle containers). Glue your wicks in the center of your candle containers. Mine are narrow so we had to be careful to get them properly centered. This is important because if they’re off-center, the wick will look crazy (in a bad way) once the wax is in! Depending on your containers and the length of your wicks, you might need to cut them down a bit.
- Allow the glue to set as needed (over-night if you want to be sure), then start melting your wax.
- To melt the wax, pour your granules into a pot over a low heat. I used disposable chopsticks to stir the wax and break up chunks to help the melting process. Important: hot wax is just that… HOT! Be careful and wear a long-sleeved shirt and pot holder when handling the wax.
- Once melted, add in your desired scented oil and give the mixture a little stir — I used vanilla scented oil for this project.
- Next, pour your wax into each container leaving about 1 inch of wick visible.
- Your candles will start to set quickly, so now’s the time to make sure your wicks are centered in the wax. Once they’re about half set, gently move the wicks to the center of your candle. This might mess up the wax a bit but that’s ok – you’ll add another layer of wax to cover that up!
- Once your candles have mostly set (about an hour or two), a dip or indentation will have formed around the wick. To get rid of that, simply pour in enough wax to cover it up and let them completely set, this time overnight.
- Now, you can decorate your candles however you want! You can leave them as they are because even as plain simple candles, they’re adorable. Or you can add twine, ribbons, tags or stickers to the candle container to jazz them up a bit!
To decorate these candles, I used:
- Card stock paper for the tags
- Stamps & black ink stamp pads
I ordered the wax to make my candles online. I got lucky with the first batch because it was a beautiful creamy off-white/ivory color. Because I didn’t order enough of the stuff the first time around, I had to buy more: it looked the same (same stuff, different brand) but oh was it different! Instead of that beautiful creamy white, it was a cheap-looking semi-transparent horribly-textured version of the good stuff that I ordered the first time. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize the difference right away because the wax takes on a different color when it’s melted vs solid. Oh the regrets…!
Tip: Quantity – If you’re making a lot of candles, buy a small sample if possible and make sure that the color matches what you’re after. Then, make sure there’s enough stock of that brand to get you through your entire project. If you’re making colored candles, then this might not be an issue for you.
I needed 8 x 1kg bags of wax to make around 115 candles. Yes, 8 kilos of candle wax. My original order was for 3 kilos and even then I thought I had over ordered! I would suggest trying an online calculator to determine how much wax you’ll need for your project.
Tip: Candle wicks – there are a few different options for candle wicks, and I’m glad I got it right the first time around in that I chose pre-waxed with sustainers (ie, the little metal base that holds the wick in place). Some wicks aren’t pre-waxed and don’t come with a base… don’t even think about using those for this project unless you like hours of frustration trying to get them to do what you want.
Tip: Time savers – Making a lot of these? I worked in batches of about 20 because I had so many candles to make, so use your judgement if you need to do the same. This gave me enough time to properly adjust each candle wick, to correct any wax issues, and to set aside to dry. For around 115 candles, we spent about 4-5 evenings making them (going at a leisurely pace).