How Do You Dress Up Votives?

Votives are small candles placed in candle holders, usually ranging from 1 to 3 inches tall and 1 to 2 inches wide. They are designed to provide a gentle, focused light source, making them ideal for decorating tables and setting ambiance. Votives are typically scented and are available in a wide range of colors and wax styles.

Votives get their name from Latin “votum” meaning a vow or dedication. Traditionally they were lit as offerings at churches or temples. Today, they are commonly used to add warmth, fragrance, and accent lighting to a room. Their small size makes them versatile for decorating and they can be dressed up in endless creative ways to complement any style or occasion.

Simple Embellishments

Transforming plain glass votives into stunning accents is easier than you think. With just a few simple materials, you can make customized votives perfect for any occasion. Here are some easy embellishment ideas to try:

Painted Votives

Painting votive holders allows you to add any color or pattern. Try solid colors like metallic gold, rose gold, silver, or blush pink for a glamorous look. For more pops of color, paint the outside of votives bright shades like turquoise, coral, or lime green. Ombre effects work beautifully on votives too. Paint the top and bottom different hues, then blend in the center.

Glittered Votives

Add sparkle to your votives by coating them with glitter! This works best with clear glass votives. Brush a thin layer of decoupage glue around the outside of the votive holder, then sprinkle glitter over the glue. Let dry completely before using. Try chunkier glitter or different colored glitter like iridescent and holographic for more shimmer.

Patterned Tape

Patterned tapes in a variety of designs can instantly dress up plain votives. Washi tapes and vinyl tapes both work great. Wrap strips of tape vertically, horizontally, or diagonally around votives to add color and interest. Try layering different patterns for a collage effect. Get creative with tape details like stripes, polka dots, florals, and geometric shapes.

Using Fabric

One easy way to dress up votives is by wrapping them in different fabrics. Lace, burlap, velvet, and other textured fabrics can transform plain votives into elegant accents. Try wrapping votive holders with strips of lace or burlap and securing them with hot glue or fabric glue. For a quick no-sew project, use wide ribbon, like grosgrain or satin, to cover votive cups. Simply wrap the ribbon around the votive, overlapping the edges and gluing it in place.

To add a pop of color, use patterned fabric like polka dots, floral, or plaid designs. Cut fabric into squares a bit larger than your votive holders. Gather the fabric at the top and secure with glue or a rubber band. For a more finished look, neatly hem the edges before gathering the fabric. This creates a ruffled effect around the votives. Sparkly fabrics like glitter tulle can create a festive look, while sheer fabrics like tulle or chiffon produce a soft, ethereal glow when illuminated.

Accent Pieces

You can use small decorative items like seashells, flowers and beads to accent your candle holders. This is an easy way to dress up plain glass or ceramic votives with some visual interest. Here are some accent piece ideas:

  • Seashells – Use real shells or faux shells for a beachy vibe. Glue them around the votive or place a few shells inside the holder.
  • Flowers – Fresh flowers or artificial blooms add a pop of color. Try mini flowers or flower petals.
  • Beads – Glass beads, gemstones or pearls create a jewelry-inspired look. Add beads to the bottom of the holder or glue them around the rim.

When using accent pieces, less is often more. A few strategically placed items can make a big impact. Make sure the accents are proportional to the size of the votive and don’t completely overwhelm or hide the candle.

Themed Designs

Another fun way to dress up votives is by creating themed designs using colors, decor, and candles that coordinate with a specific holiday, season, or color palette. This allows you to quickly change up your votive decor to match the occasion or time of year.

Holiday Themes

Holiday-themed votive designs are a great way to add festive flair using candles. For Christmas, use red and green candles surrounded by pinecones, holly leaves, mini ornaments, and gold accents. A Fourth of July look could incorporate red, white, and blue candles with star-shaped beads or sequins. Halloween votives can be dressed up with tiny pumpkins, spiders, and other spooky accessories.

Seasonal Themes

Create spring-inspired votives with pastel candles, faux flowers, and bird or butterfly embellishments. For summer, use shells, starfish, and sand to give a beachy vibe. Fall-themed votives can include mini gourds, acorns, maple leaves, and earthy orange and brown candles. Light blue, silver, and white candles surrounded by snowflake decor work for winter.

Color Scheme Designs

If you want votive designs based on specific colors, select candles, ribbons, beads, flowers, and other embellishments in coordinated shades. For example, purple votives could feature lavender, lilac, and violet candles with amethyst crystal chips and lilac blossoms. A red theme might have candles in shades of crimson, burgundy, and rouge complemented by ruby red beads and rose petals. The options are endless!

Floating Candles

Floating candles make for a gorgeous centerpiece as the candle appears to magically levitate in the air. There are a few easy ways to create this illusion at home without any special supplies.

One popular method is to fill a clear glass vase or bowl with water and add a floating disc candle holder. These are small plastic discs designed to hold a votive or tealight candle. Place the disc in the water, then set the candle on top. The disc will float, making it seem as if the candle is magically suspended in the vase. This works best with tall cylindrical vases.

For a different look, fill a wide, shallow glass bowl with water. Carefully place a votive or tealight directly in the water, letting it float freely. The candle will bob gently on the surface, creating a peaceful ambiance. Add flower petals to the water for extra visual interest. This works best with floating candles that have a flat, wide base.

No matter which floating candle method you choose, be sure to use containers that are heat-safe and watch the candles carefully. But used properly, floating candles make a gorgeous focal point for any tablescape.

Upcycled Containers

An eco-friendly way to dress up your votive candles is by placing them in upcycled containers. This allows you to give new life to items you already have at home, reducing waste. Some ideas for upcycled votive holders include:

  • Glass jars – Clean out glass jars from pasta sauce, jams, or other foods. Make sure to remove any labels. These transparent jars allow the candlelight to shine through beautifully.
  • Tins – Metal tins from breath mints, tea, or other items can be repurposed as votive holders. Make sure to clean them thoroughly first.
  • Cups – Small teacups or espresso cups make charming holders for votive candles. They come in a variety of patterns and colors to suit any decor.

The key is to find containers short enough to keep the flame burning safely. Always check the height of the candle compared to the vessel. For stability, make sure the diameter of the container’s opening is just slightly larger than the candle.

DIY Projects

For a fun and creative DIY project, try making colorful melted crayon votive holders. Simply peel the paper off of old crayons and break them into pieces. Place the crayon pieces into silicone molds, melt in the oven or a slow cooker, then let cool completely before removing. The crayon wax will create a colorful marbled effect. For a more rustic look, drizzle crayons over the outside of plain glass votives.

Another unique DIY is to etch designs into glass votives. Use an etching cream or gel to “frost” the outside of plain votive holders. Then use a tool like a toothpick to scratch a pattern into the coating before washing off. The scratched areas become translucent while the remaining cream stays opaque for a cool distressed effect. Stencils work great for creating patterns. Sandblasting kits can also be used to etch intricate designs.

Safety Tips

When decorating with candles, it’s important to keep fire safety in mind. Here are some tips for safely embellishing votives:

Use fire-safe containers – Choose non-flammable materials like glass, metal, or ceramic when selecting vessels for your candles. Avoid using plastic or paper items which can easily catch fire.

Avoid flammable decor – Dried flowers, twigs, moss and other dried botanicals can quickly ignite if they come into contact with a flame. Opt for non-flammable embellishments near lit candles.

Keep all decorative items at a safe distance from the candle flame. Trim wicks to 1⁄4 inch before lighting to prevent excess smoke and dripping wax.

Never leave burning candles unattended. Extinguish them before leaving a room and make sure they are fully cooled before moving them.

Consider using battery-operated candles for long-term decor and in places where you’ll be sleeping or away for extended periods. This removes the fire risk while still allowing you to enjoy the ambiance.

Inspiring Design Ideas

Votives can be dressed up in countless creative ways to complement your décor. Here are some inspiring ideas to spark your imagination:

Rustic Style

For a rustic, farmhouse look, nestle votives inside mason jars wrapped with twine, burlap or raffia. Add a sprig of dried lavender or wheat for a charming touch. Display the votives on a weathered wooden tray or behind the glass of an old window pane.

Elegant Style

Create an elegant tablescape by placing votives in clear glass vases or mercury glass containers. Surround them with rose petals, crystals, or other glamorous accents. For a romantic mood, use candlelight votives in an antique silver candelabra.

Eclectic Style

Get creative with an eclectic mix of votive holders, like colored glassware, ceramic bowls, or repurposed teacups. Line them up on a mirrored tray or cluster them together at different heights for visual interest. Mix metallics, shapes, and textures for individuality.

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