candles and turkey

Flameless candles

30 November 2011

The surprise hits of my Thanksgiving table were these unexpectedly realistic flameless candles. Aside from birthday cake toppers, I haven’t had candles in the house since I became a parent a decade ago. With real wax, softly flickering light and light vanilla scent, these LED pillar candles are a surprisingly satisfying – and happily carefree – substitute for the real thing.

I felt sheepishly cornball buying battery-operated candles at Costco this fall, but with four active children in the house, I was intrigued by their practicality. No open flame, no hot wax, no risk of burning down the house. I love the coziness of candlelight, so I figured they were worth a try. At the very least, I knew the kids would be amused.

I hesitated to break them out for Thanksgiving – the effect wasn’t as credible without candle holders, and on the table people would certainly see the unlit wicks. But I figured we could overlook the artifice to enjoy the low ambient glow. And given the real look and smell of the wax, no one really noticed they were electric until I mentioned it. If the candles had been up on a shelf, I’d say no one would ever know the difference.

A particularly cool feature of these candles is a convenient setting at which the candles automatically turn on for the same five hours every day. Since darkness falls so early this time of year, I set mine to light in the late afternoon, and they shut off while I’m putting kids to bed. They would also be festive on windowsills for the holiday season.

There are a number of flameless candles on the market of varying quality. The Costco ones are manufactured by Nii Northern, which also sells under the name Candle Impressions, a popular brand on QVC and apparently the gold standard in LED candles.

I don’t know if the ones I bought are still available at Costco, where a four-pack including eight AA batteries sold for $20. Amazon.com has a four-pack for $37 including shipping, which is almost double Costco’s price but still a decent deal given that Pottery Barn sells them for $20 each (!). World Market also sells the candles individually for $10, and a well-rated online retailer named Lamp Lust sells what appear to be the same ones for $8 each on Amazon.com.

QVC also has some nice gift sets. A floral collection has a pastel trio of white, green and lavender scented candles in a pretty box for $26 plus shipping. Another set has three candles in cute glass jars with sheer gold-edged bows for $33 plus shipping. One or two of those would make a refreshingly different teachers’ gift.

I’m going to check out my local Costco to see if I can grab some pillars for my sisters- and mother-in-law. They all read this blog (thanks, chicas!), but they can humor me on Christmas Day and act surprised.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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