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‘Tis the Season to be Thrifty

November 29, 2011

No, for once I’m not talking about thrifting, as in shopping at a thrift store. I’m talking about saving a little money. At my house, spending during the holidays can get a little out of hand. Both my husband and I love Christmas, and love to give presents. Also, there’s the baking, the socializing, the charity drives at work and the decorating. As I’m making a concerted effort to reduce my spending this holiday season, I thought I’d share some of my thrifty ideas here over the next few weeks. I hope you find something helpful!

As I’ve mentioned before, we’re in the process of selling our house right now. This means a good 85% of what we own is packed away. Turns out the Christmas stuff is on the very bottom of the back of the stack of boxes in storage, and nobody wants to dig it out. Since we won’t be doing a ton of decorating (keeping everything understated – festive but not my normal over-the-top) I decided to make a few purchases and repurpose some existing items. I decided one of my purchases would be candles, and set out to find some on sale on Black Friday. My plan was to decorate the lower part of pillar candles with epsom salts for sparkle, and set three or five in a dish I already owned, surrounded with more epsom salts. (Yes, it’s a Martha Stewart thing.) I found a few sales, but none quite as cheap as I hoped. I considered (for about 3 seconds) going to the Dollar Tree, but their candles always seem to smell like crayons – not a pleasant thing.

I finally broke down and headed out to Walmart on Sunday. If anyone has cheap anything, it’s Walmart, right? While I was looking at the pillar candles (and trying to talk myself into buying them because they were still more than I wanted to spend) my eye wandered down to the end of the aisle. Inspiration and relief struck at the same time. I would use novena candles (also called prayer candles) and decorate the glass! I ditched the epsom salts in my buggy and headed to the checkout with five, $1.29 candles.

I’ve actually decorated quite a few novena candles since I moved here to Texas. I know back in West Virginia these candles were not as widely available as they are here. Every grocery store, Walmart and even quite a few convenience stores carry a decent selection. I’ve found them at flea markets too – got a great deal on a case one time. If you’re not in the southwest you should still be able to find novena candles – look in the Hispanic foods section of your grocery store. I’ve glued just about everything to the glass: scrapbook paper, magazine pages, silk scarves, printed cotton, ribbon, glitter and now micro beads.

I did buy a couple of other things for this project. I decided to use micro beads when I came across a set of 16 different colors on sale for $14.99 at Michaels. In addition I bought a larger container of pearly white beads, some double-sided tape and adhesive dots. I only used two of the containers in the multi-pack and about 1/4 of the pearly beads. As I plan to use others for Christmas ornaments (more about that later this week) I’m not counting the full purchase price towards my total spent on this project. Taking all of that into account my final total including tax was $15.67, or just over $3 per candle. These would make great gifts as well.

I started by removing the labels from the glass of each candle. We had some adhesive remover, and I used that because these particular labels were REALLY stubborn. After removing the labels be sure to use a little glass cleaner to remove any residue from the glass so the tape or dots stick well.

Next, apply the double-sided tape or adhesive dots in whatever pattern you would like. Work in sections, applying a little tape, then sprinkling the micro beads, then more tape and more beads, until your project is completed.

When you sprinkle on the beads I’d suggest doing so inside a box lid, or a cookie sheet, or something with sides. Those things go EVERYWHERE! You’ll notice in the pictures I didn’t do that, and I ended up tiny beads all over my coffee table, clothes and carpet. With the dots I found that after I sprinkled I’d scoop the stray beads into a pile and sort of mash the dot into the beads to get all of the edges covered. Work with one color at a time, and be sure to gather all of those stray beads and pour them back into the container to use again.

That’s about it for this project. Depending on how stubborn your labels are, and how intricate your designs, these can take 10 minutes to an hour to complete. I used thick tape on these and relatively simple patterns and knocked them out in about two hours (again – stubborn labels!). Now my candles are lined up on my coffee table, just waiting to be lit up and glowy some night soon.

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