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When it comes to setting the perfect dining table, candles are the pièce de resistance.

They’re capable of elevating even the simplest of atmospheres. Whether you’re after a moody ambiance, a romantic flicker, or want to put colorful and intricate candles at the center of the action, there are countless possibilities. There’s no “right” way to incorporate candles into a tablescape, but, after years of entertaining and hundreds of successful dinner parties and events between us all, we think it’s safe to say we’ve developed a few tried and true tips for making them look as perfect as possible.

Choosing your candle type

There are a number of different types of candles you can choose as a table centerpiece, with different occasions calling for different variations. There are a few things to consider when it comes to choosing your type.

Taper candles

The first, and most common category for a table setting is taper candles. Taper candles are the long, narrow candles you typically see on a table; usually odorless, they’re designed to inject a table or a room with atmospheric lighting as opposed to scenting it in any specific way. Our favorite taper candles come from Il Buco Vita and are available in a traditional beeswax taper and a twisted variety.

Benefits of beeswax candles

Il Buco’s taper candles are made from beeswax, an excellent option for anyone looking to imbue their tablescape with style–without sacrificing anything in the process. Beeswax candles are nontoxic; unlike some taper candles, they don’t contain any chemical compounds, which can produce toxic fumes when they burn. In fact, some even claim that, due to the release of negative ions, beeswax candles can purify the air, and though the claim isn’t fully supported by scientific evidence, they are absolutely nontoxic–and a great addition to any candle collection. And although they don’t have any fragrance, they do emit a naturally sweet–but pleasantly subtle–scent that can neutralize strong odors in your home, especially useful if you’re cooking but don’t want the scent to linger.

Taper candles don’t stand alone on a table; you need to place them in candlesticks. Il Buco Vita’s candlesticks are designed specifically to hold their beeswax tapers, and they’re neutral enough to look fantastic on any table, no matter what decor scheme you’re going for.

How to burn a taper candle

You may be well-acquainted with the process of trimming wicks for your scented candles (and, if you’re not, you’re going to want to read our article on candle care). For maximum burn time, we’d also advise you to cut your tapers down to ¼ of an inch. Don’t worry about measuring exactly, just do your best to cut the top for a cleaner burn. Once you trim for the first time, there’s no need to trim them again.

You don’t need to do anything highly specific with regards to a taper candle when it comes to safely burning, apart from ensuring they stay away from flammable objects. We also try our best to keep them away from gauzy or billowing curtains–and it’s important to be mindful of the wind when it comes to outdoor dinners, although, on a sturdy candlestick base, they should be safe from toppling over.

How long do taper candles burn?

Taper candles typically burn for up to 10 hours, meaning they’ll last for the duration of an entire dinner party–even those that go well into the evening. You can choose to burn them all at once, or allot a couple hours over the course of a few nights; they’re certainly capable of lasting through a number of soirees.

What type of candles burn the longest?

When it comes to the type of candle wax that burns the longest and slowest, beeswax is a clear winner–another argument in favor of purchasing Il Buco Vita’s traditional beeswax taper and a twisted variety.

Because beeswax has a greater density and hardness than other types of candle wax, like paraffin, it burns at a higher temperature. Soy–the dominant wax in many of the other candles in our shop–is also a slow-burning favorite.

So, when it comes to choosing a candle for your dinner party tablescape, your best bet is an elegant beeswax taper.

How to decorate around taper candles

The beauty of a taper candle lies in its simplicity; they look good with almost anything. Their organic texture blends nicely into a more maximalist tablescape, but they also lend a dramatic flicker to a simple table that means they can serve as the star of the show, too.

For a maximalist table, it’s all about juxtaposition. Pair the taper candles with pillars, like our favorites from The Floral Society, and don’t be shy about showing off florals in a gorgeous bud vase: we love the Aurora from Hawkins New York and all three colorways and size variations of The Floral Society’s Ceramic Blossom Vase. Another underrated way to make your tablescape stand out is to introduce compote vases, like these, or floral frogs, an easy way to offer a delicate decorative touch for maximum stylistic impact.

Other options: scent your tablescape

While we’re all about the simplicity of a taper candle, there’s something to be said for scenting a table, too. Yes, when you’re cooking particularly fragrant meals, it’s typically advisable to let the smells from your recipes waft into your dining room–but when you’re cooking a milder menu, scented candles are an ideal way to add even more panache to a dinner party.

When it comes to scented candles, you’ll want ones that aren’t too powerful, but still lend a pleasant scent profile to your space.

The Ura Scented Candle in Pale Sienna from Ferm Living has a chamomile scent that’s gentle but stunning; it will mingle beautifully with whatever you put on the table, and they double as decor. And, because delicate floral scents are always a good idea, DS&Durga’s Salt Marsh Rose candle or their Wild Brooklyn Lavender varieties both work perfectly here as well. Because your taper candles are unscented, you can also dot some along a tablescape where you’re using scented candles, too.

How long do scented candles last?

When it comes to scented candle care–there’s not much action required on your end. You can stock up on your Ferm Living and DS&Durga faves now and rest assured they’ll last for ages and be ready for whatever dinner party plans come your way. Candles burn at their best within 2 years of manufacture, but they don’t ‘expire’ at all–they just may lose some of their power if you wait too long. Our comprehensive candle care guide has everything you need to know in that department.

Final tips for candle centerpieces

  • Opt for beeswax taper candles if you’re cooking fragrant foods
  • Create height contrast by interpreting wider pillar candles with your tapers
  • Lean into delicate, floral-scented candles if you’re cooking something lighter and want to scent the space differently
  • Juxtapose your taper candles with different shaped and sized floral bud vases, ceramic frogs, and compotes


Did you use any of our tips to create a gorgeous candle centerpiece? If so, let us know! Tag us on social media using #casadesuna

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