Tea lights are a simple and inexpensive way to create an elegant and welcoming atmosphere. They are small, flat, round candles that sit in their own holders. You can simply set them on surfaces and light them, or place them in larger holders for added decoration and safety. Tea lights come in a variety of colours and scents with some of the candles having special wicks that allow the flames to burn different colours. For a child-safe and worry-free option, purchase electric tea lights. These small, battery-powered lights have flickering light bulbs that mimic the movement of flames. They never burn down; they just need new batteries occasionally. These also come in a variety of colours.
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Simple straight lines of tea lights can make a big impact, especially if the house lights are turned down a little. Line tea lights up in a straight line on empty window sills and down the centres of buffet tables or food-laden counters. Arrange the lights in a circle or spiral in the centre of a coffee table or place two or three lights on each side table and turn out the lamps. Place them in simple clear glass holders or attach ribbon to the metal holders with double-stick tape. Use red and green velvet ribbon for Christmas and spider-web ribbon for Halloween.
Find a large round or square mirror without a frame and place it in the centre of your table. Put a vase with a small cluster of white or dark-coloured flowers in the centre then surround it with glass cup-shaped candle holders, tall metal holders equipped for tea lights and wide-mouthed wine glasses. Arrange all the holders artfully, staggering heights and materials. Place a tea light in each holder and wine glass, using multiple colours if you like. Sprinkle metallic confetti or glass vase stones on the mirror and light the candles. Everything should shine.
Paper lanterns are a good way to create soft, glowing light. You can purchase traditional-looking Chinese lanterns in all sizes and colours. Many of these have metal bottoms for holding candles and cords so they can be hung. Attach temporary hooks to your walls and ceiling and hang the lanterns around the edges of the room. You can also set them on flat surfaces. Create your own lanterns by ironing coloured wax and leaves between layers of waxed paper and taping them into cylinders. You may want to use electric tea lights with paper lanterns to avoid disasters.
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