Save or Splurge on Candle Glow

Candles are among the most versatile decorating tools. Simple to use, they offer effortless ways to style tabletops, mantels, and countertops. If you decorate with candles, here is a way to save money when buying them.

There is nothing I love better about being at home, especially this time of year when the days are shorter and it starts getting dark by the late afternoon.

Many people get depressed about this happening, but my cozy-loving self looks forward to it.

Brass candlesticks on a sales table at holiday bazaar
Rummage sale table filled with $1 – $3 candle holders

I LOVE candles! I am always on the search for new candles, holders and cute little containers to hold matches. I am thrilled when I find any or all of them at thrift stores. Then I can add my own style to them as I did with the brass and silver candlesticks I bought last year at a church rummage sale.

3 White Christmas stockings hanging on cedar draped fireplace mantel

I sprayed them silver to decorate my mantel last Christmas.

Fall mantel decorated using orange yellow and navy blue

I also buy lots of candles to use around the house starting in the fall through winter. Most of them are the flat-topped pillar style, like these from the Pottery Barn outlet.

Michaels craft store is another place where I buy them using 40% off coupons. They have a great selection of unscented white candles of all shapes and sizes.

Fall candle in a kitchen

Now that fall is in full swing, when dusk begins to settle in around 5 o’clock, I reach for the matches and light a few candles in my kitchen and living room.

Before I make dinner, I have a little down time usually with a glass of wine and a favorite playlist filling the house. The closer it gets to the holidays – usually mid-November – that playlist will be all Christmas music.

For me, candles are magical. They provide a soothing or festive ambiance to any room even if it is only a party of one. With flames flickering, candles encourage us to gather close and to linger longer.

Red candle in glass hurricane on outdoor planter urn.

I prefer unscented white candles in the house, but have been know to use orange in the fall and red outside around the holidays to provide a special glow by the front door of the house when we have friends coming over. Do you remember that pastime – friends coming over and entertaining in our homes? ;-)

A couple of weeks ago, I was gathering all my candles to see what sizes I still had and what I needed to refill my stash.

A few years ago, I bought a basket full of flat-top pillar candles at a Pottery Barn outlet. They were half-price so I got as many as I could.

I have used most of them and like the 4″ x 4.5 ” pillars and the 3-wick 6″ x 6″ sizes the best. This year, I decided to search for less expensive candles to refill my stash and found them at Walmart for less than half the price.

Comparison: Pottery Barn vs. Walmart Candles

I thought it would be fun to play a little “Copy Cat Chic” or the “Splurge vs. Deal” game. Basically high cost versus a lower cost bargain find.

The candles below can each be bought separately, but to keep the comparison simple, I added up the price for the 6 candles in each photo that both Pottery Barn and Walmart sell.

Comparison of price for a collection of white unscented candles from Pottery Barn and Walmart. Pottery Barn cost for the same color and size candle is 98.99. Walmart is $58.23

The Price for the 6″ x 6″ Candle

Here is the price difference for the candle that I like. It is a big difference!

I went with the Walmart candles this year. So far I don’t see a difference.

Comparing Battery-Operated Pottery Barn vs. Amazon Premium Flickering Candles

While I was organizing my candles, I decided to splurge and order a 4″ x 4.5″ fake – Premium Flickering Flameless Wax candle from Pottery Barn for $64. I always admire them when I go into the actual store. I figured that I love candles so much, why not order one.

I have tried other battery-operated candles over the years and never like the light they emit – it always looks a bit garish in color.

The flickering flame candles are different, the flame moves, making them look very realistic as the flame flickers just like a real flame does.

4 Pottery Barn premium-flickering-flameless-sugared-birch-pillar-candles

I also ordered one of these Flickering Sugared Birch Pillars – but it was backordered and I haven’t received it yet. For fall I don’t mind an ivory colored candle like this to use in my decor. I like the natural element vibe these have. If I don’t like the light, I may come up with my own DIY version.

While I waited for the white candle to be delivered, I saw a set of:

They were not flat topped, but I still liked them. So I ordered the set of three that included a timer and remote for $21.00 to do another candle comparison. All the time, thinking that I would be sending the set from Amazon back since I liked the Pottery Barn ones so much.

When the candles arrived I put the batteries in and set them out on my coffee table, then waited till dusk.

I got a big surprise!

3 flicker candles on a table from Amazon and Pottery Barn

You may not be able to see this from the photo, but I was so upset to see that although I love the flat top size of the Pottery Barn candle, the candle and the light coming from it looked olive green. It looked drab – Yuck!

The flicker effect was nice, but I did not like the drabness. I tried it in my powder room where I like to have a candle, but it looked even worse. Every time I am in Pottery Barn, it’s in the daylight, not dark in the store so I was never able to see the candle at night.

The set of 3 Amazon candles (only two are in the photo) have a much whiter – yellow light and look more like the real candle that is behind them on the table. Both the Pottery Barn and Amazon have the same flicker effect that truly looks like a real flame.

Here is a short video to see the flickering flame in action:

Soooo… I kept the Amazon set of 3 and sent back the expensive flat top Pottery Barn candle. And got 3 candles instead of one, plus the timer and remote and saved myself $45! :-)

I prefer real candles, but having a battery-operated one on when I want to take a cat nap is a nice option as I don’t have to worry if I fall asleep with a candle burning. I also like to use battery-operated candles in the powder room and foyer when we are entertaining as I don’t want to leave real ones unattended as the center of the party is in the kitchen or living room.

Decorating for fall with candles and pumpkins

I do prefer flat top candles, but also like tapers, votives and floating candles and have used them all around the house.

Candle in rustic glass candle holder

This year for fall decor for my kitchen, I did buy this textured hurricane. When a candle is burning inside, it is so cozy and fall like. This is the medium size. It also comes in a smaller and larger size.

White candle with bubble glass hurricane on coffee table.

I bought this bubble (seeded) glass hurricane at Target a few years ago. I sometimes use it in my kitchen, and other times on the coffee table in the living room.

3 large glass jars filled with fake snow and white candles in a fireplace.

And when there is no fire in the fireplace, a few large pickle jar candle lanterns fill the space and make the fireplace cozy.

How to Make Candles Last Longer?

If you enjoy the look of candle glow in your home, one way to keep your candles from burning down too fast is to keep them in the refrigerator placed in freezer bags until ready to use. This will keep the wicks from absorbing moisture while they get cold. If you place them in a freezer, they will crack, so only keep them in the fridge.

How to Remove Candle Wax Drips?

If the table surface or candle holder gets wax on it, here is how to remove it:

  • Wait until the wax is hard, then use a credit card to scrape the drips of wax off. Don’t use a knife.
  • If this doesn’t remove all of the wax, then soften the wax with a hair dryer and use a paper towel to blot the wax. Wipe away any leftover wax with a towel dipped in a solution of 1/4 cup white vinegar to 1/2 cup water.

How to Make Candles Fit In Holders That Are Too Small or Big?

  • If candles are too wide for the opening of the candleholder you want to use, trim the bottom with a vegetable peeler until it fits.
  • If the candle is too narrow to fit, wrap some tape around the bottom a few times until the candle fits snugly.

How to Trim The Sides of a Pillar Candle

When a pillar candle starts developing a center depression, sometimes the melting wax extinguishes the flame. To stop this from happening, you can trim the sides of the candle, down to the level of the wick. A vegetable peeler is once again the best way to do this.

How to Store Candles When Not In Use

When your candles are stored for the season or when not it use, the best place to store them is in a cool place. Do not store in a closet near a big sunny window or attic where the inside of the closet may get hot causing the wax to warm and deform your candles. I know this from experience when I went grab a few candles for a party and they were all melted together!

My Favorite Candles


3 flicker candles on a table. Text overlay says The Most Realistic Flicker Candle

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27 Comments

  1. Jenny Young posted a question about match strikers. I wondered the same thing. I would like to put matches in attractive little containers, but do you keep a striker nearby? I learned so much about candles from your post. Thanks for teaching us! XO

    1. Hi Lynn – I am getting a post for next week ready about the match holders. Most of the holders have a striking area on them, sometimes around the base, on the front or back and if it is a decorative jar with a lid, the striker may be on the bottom. I will have more details about this in my post.

  2. I agree with you about it getting darker sooner during the Fall. I love it too as the Fall (and Winter) season is my favorite. While I realize not many people agree, I enjoy the coziness of the candles and a few small lamps. Just give me a book to read and I’m happy.

  3. Diane, I recently bought Better Homes &Gardens flicker candles at Walmart. I like them very much. I have several brands around my house. I love having them set on timers to light every evening this time of year.

  4. This was perfect timing! I’ve starting thinking fall too! where is there a Pottery Barn outlet? NC/SC area? Thanks! really enjoy your posts!

  5. Thanks for all the candle tips! I, too, am especially finicky about the color of faux flames—lol. I think I’ll treat myself to the Amazon candle set!

  6. Great post, Diane! I have wanted those Pottery Barn candles for ages and could never justify the price but I just ordered the Amazon ones and can’t wait to get them! I have also struggled with the dreaded wax on wood problems so I’m going to try your method next time. ??

  7. So many great points in the post. Thank you!

    I’d love to see the containers you use for your matches. I struggle with where to keep them handy in each room because my 2 yr old grandson stays with me on weekdays. I do have a wall mounted match holder from my childhood that was mounted on the wall by our wood burning stove.
    Are the white tip matches strike anywhere matches? I do like the little bowl you have pictured here but where do you strike them?

    I’ve bought two candles recently that I’ve loved. One from Hobby Lobby..a pumpkin shape cream jar with a wooden lid. The wick is wide & flat…it looks like balsam wood? not sure what it is & I do love the scent though it’s a little sweeter than I normally like.
    I also bought one from Walmart. I haven’t had good luck with Walmart candles but I was scrambling for a gift & checked them out. I bought a WoodlandWick hourglass candle scented Fireside. I loved the look & the scent. And my friend says it burns beautifully. I’ll be looking more at their candles after reading your review.

    1. Hi Jenny –

      I am getting a post for next week ready about the match holders. Most of the holders have a striking area on them, sometimes around the base, on the front or back and if it is a decorative jar with a lid, the striker may be on the bottom. I will have more details about this in my post.

      I have been giving a few Woodland Wick candles over the years. They do burn nice and even, but don’t have an unscented one that I can find.

  8. Costco has a set of 5 flickering flame candles w/ remote by Sterno. They’re great and come with the batteries too! Really hoping to get more!

  9. I am a battery powered candle convert. The older I get remembering to blow out candles is one more thing I won’t forget to do, haha. Your mantle with the silver candle holders is so pretty. Can you tell me what kind of silver paint you used?

  10. I love the comparisons!
    Costco also has had some realistic and very well priced flicker candles the past few years.
    Thanks for the beautiful things you show us!

    1. Hi Joni – Thanks for reading my blog, without wonderful readers like you I wouldn’t have a blog. XO My older daughter belongs to Costco. We are going to visit her soon so I will go with her on a grocery run and see if I can find them. Thanks for telling me.

  11. I too love candles. I especially love scented candles. I will be using your wonderful ideas. Thanks fir sharing.
    Nothing like a flickering candle, and the smell of pies and pumpkins throughout a clean home. Love it!

  12. Love this post and thanks for all the research and info! I have flat top candles from a set that I purchased at Costco and they are good. Battery operated timers and remote. Love them. My favorite candle, and I want to get more, is from the At Home Store and it is the flicker flame with timer. Super realistic! It’s a larger size in a hurricane that sets on our coffee table. We really enjoy it ?

  13. I always liked the idea of candles, and sometimes bought them but rarely used them, I think because I was worried our cats would knock them over & start a fire.
    I have totally embraced battery operated candles since last year. I love the timer feature so they come on at the same time every night. Walking into your home at dusk with candles already flickering is magical. I even use one in the bathroom overnight as a nightlight so I don’t have to turn on a bright light. I also ordered rechargeable batteries on amazon so I can use the same batteries over & over, saving a ton of money on batteries.

  14. I appreciate all the work you put into this post. I almost set our dining room sheers on fire during a big party about 20 years ago and that was the end of real candles for me. I gave a plastic tub of beautiful white tapers to the local church. I buy beautiful pillar candles, about five for $30, with batteries included, from Costco. They have a remote as well as auto timers set to 4, 6 and 8 hrs, I think. Set it and forget it. I set them for 4 pm, your perfect time of day! They are curved on top and flicker…just gorgeous and the ambiance is wonderful. And yes, to that glass of wine!!!!

    Ps. Because I decorated my mantle with lush, fall silk flowers, I can nestle these candles down into them and there is never a safety issue.

    1. Hi Eileen –

      Your mantle sounds pretty. I can imagine how nice the tucked in candle glow looks. I think I mentioned in a blog post once about the time Ed and I were hosting a NY’s Eve party and everyone started to smell smoke. We looked all over the house and found nothing, but the smell of smoke hung in the air. It wasn’t until later when my sister picked up our cat and noticed his fur on one side was scorched. He must have jumped up on the dining room table when there was no one in the room. There were candles on the table and he must have brushed past the flame on one and got his fur scorched.

      After this, I never have real candles in a room that I can’t be in 100% of the time.

      Candles and wine go perfectly together. :-) Enjoy them both!

  15. This article on candles is so helpful!! Thank you.
    I usually use battery candles. I so fear a fire.
    What is I. The bottom of the pickle jars in the fireplace?
    Where do I buy those jars since we would never eat that many pickles in this life?
    What is the size of the candle you use in the pickle jars?

    Share some of your playlist. I bet your viewers would enjoy your music.

    Thank you and be well!

    1. Hi Ethel – I buy the big pickle jars at Walmart. They are filled with pickles for $5 a jar. We eat some of them and I try to add them to recipes, but I usually end up throwing most of them out. I use them as lanterns outside in the warmer months.

      You can see the post about them here: https://bit.ly/3ds27YA

      I also use them as flower vases: https://bit.ly/3jY145o

      I use a 3′ x 4″ pillar in the pickle jars, but you can use any that fit in the top opening. The filler at the bottom is fake snow bought at the craft store. You can also use Kosher salt.

      I mentioned two playlists I have been listening to on Spotify in a recent Style Scouting post.
      Do you listen to Spotify? I did a search for autumn playlists and found a few. I have been listening to Jazz Cafe Autumn and Autumn in New York and Autumn Acoustic.

      Going forward I will create actual playlists. Gotta figure out how to post them, but I will.

  16. Love your blog

    I get my candles at a candle outlet store; Factory Direct. The prices are incredible and the selection enormous. If there is one near you, check it out. Tapers I bought at 25 cents each last summer, among other things. They have all the “fancy” ones too.