THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WAY TO LIGHT YOUR CHRISTMAS TREE.

This is good.   This is really good.

Every year I come up with one great Christmas DIY.  Not 10 or 12 … one. Of course I post a lot more than that, but we all know only one of them is actually any good.

I don’t try, I don’t think about it, they just come to me.  Like farts in a bathtub, pushing their way from my deep recesses until they bubble up to the surface and magically make their presence known.

Wow.  WOW.  What a completely horrible way to introduce this year’s stellar DIY.  I’m so sorry about that. Now whenever you think of this great DIY you’ll also think of uncontrollable gas.  Let’s walk that back a bit and maybe go with a comparison that’s a bit less gross and a bit more Christmassy.  Like flying angels.  Yes.  Let’s say that flying angels push their way out of my deep recesses until they bubble up to the surface, gasp for air, then choke, burp and of course fart out a good idea.  That’s much better.

Last year the DIY that bubbled forth was the elegant bookcase presents, an idea that I randomly made up completely in my head, on my own, while looking at them at my friend’s house.  The year before that it was the insanely popular Christmas dessert, The Snow Globe a la Mode.

Bookcase Presents Tutorial                                         Snowglobe a la Mode Tutorial

This year’s Christmas DIY is possibly my favourite to date because it hits all four Christmas craft criteria;  easy, fun, affordable and impressive.

Allow me to introduce you to the DIY Christmas Tree Candles.

 

I know.  And it’s easy.  And fun.  And affordable.  The whole affordable thing is what prompted me to figure out this DIY.  I’ve always loved the look of candles on Christmas trees because in my heart of hearts I’m an English Victorian lady (with a hunting dog named Muddles) and an entire staff to douse my tree whence it goes up in flames.  Candles on a tree just look so nice.

Of course you can’t have real candles on a tree because good candles are expensive.  And on fire.  but fake ones are O.K.  A couple of years ago I looked up Christmas tree candles on Amazon and found some but they were close to $100 for 10 fake candles.  No.  This year I happened to find some in a store near me. The pack of battery operated tree candles were selling for the low, low price of $70 for 10.  No.

Also, I didn’t want 10 candles, I wanted my tree covered in candles so, double no.

Want your own Christmas tree candles?  Well today’s your lucky day I’d say.

DIY Christmas tree candles

Materials

CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE VERSION OF THE MATERIALS

Will make 48 candles.

  • 1/2″ rigid plastic pipe, 5′ length x 3
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • String of C6 clear LED lights (I used a total of 400 lights on a 7′ tree)
  • White, cream, orange, dark orange latex paint (just the cheap craft paint from the dollar store)
  • Paintbrush
  • Clear silicone
  • Metal can
  • Floral wire
  • 48 Alligator clips

TOTAL COST: Approximately $15 for pipe, $5 for silicone, $5 for the paints, $10 – 20 for alligator clips.  The rest you probably have. So the high end total is $40 for 48 candles.

Steps

CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTABLE VERSION OF THE STEPS

  1. Cut the plastic pipe into 3 ¼” lengths.  (this length may differ a bit based on your particular string of lights as you’ll see a bit later on) You can use a circular saw or a hacksaw to cut your plastic pipe.

 

2. Squeeze hot glue onto one end of the pipes to mimic dripping candle wax.  This is your sheath.

 

3. Paint the sheath with a mixture of white and cream paint which will resemble wax.

TIP:  Spray with a low sheen clear coat to make it resemble wax even more.

 

4. Remove 48 bulbs from your string of lights. (number of bulbs you do is optional but I used 48 candles for my tree)  Paint each bulb with light orange paint and let dry.  Once dry, paint the tips with dark orange.

TIP:  For some reason you cannot buy a string of orange C6 LED lights at this time. Green? Yes. Blue?  Yes.  But not orange.  That’s why you have to paint the clear bulbs.  If in the future orange is available you can buy those and avoid having to paint the bulbs. Possibly keep your eyes open around Halloween.

 

5.  Cut a pop can in half and fill it with clear silicone.

 

6. Wrap a piece of floral wire around the base of each painted bulb and dip them in the silicone.

 

7. Hang the bulbs to dry overnight.

TIP: Make sure your bulbs are hanging straight down so the tips will be straight and not bent when they’re dry.

8. Glue an alligator clip vertically at the base of the sheaths.  I used Loctite’s Super Glue.

Tip:  You can buy a 12 pack of alligator clips at Michaels.  You can get twice as many (24) for the same price on Amazon. 

 

9. Gather your string of C6 lights.

 

10. Grasp the lighting wire in your fingers until it’s bent like this.

TIP:  The measurement from the tip of the socket to the base where my fingers are pinching is how long your plastic pipe pieces should be cut.  This may vary with different brands of LED lights.

 

11. Insert your sheath over top.  It will fit tight enough that the sheath won’t fall off.  Make sure there aren’t any loose bits or sharp edges inside the sheath from cutting it because that can cut the wire as you push it through and you do NOT want to do that.

 

12. Insert your silicone bulb and there you have it.  They’re done.

12. To light your tree, clip your sheaths all around your tree where they look good. Space them out evenly but don’t worry about getting them to stand straight at this point.  Finally string your lights around your tree, inserting the cord and candle bulbs in the pre-placed sheaths as you go.  Again. Don’t worry about them being straight yet.  They’ll be all slanted and askew and you’ll think this is a total fail.  You will call your sister to tell her THIS is why you don’t do anything off of stupid Pinterest.  Relax.  Have patience.

Once the tree is lit and all the bulbs and sheaths are placed, starting from the top down, straighten all the candles.  They’ll move and shift as you go, so just keep straightening them.  Don’t expect perfect if you’re working with a real Christmas tree. Perfection is easier on a fake tree but it also isn’t as authentic looking.

Plug the lights in and watch your tree and everyone’s faces beholding this thing of beauty light up.

 

Burping, farting angels have never looked so good.

92 Comments

  1. Lynn says:

    OH Karen that has to be the coolest diy I have ever seen 🌲🎄 I love it

    • Karen says:

      Thanks! I have to say I agree, lol. But I’m kind of on a candle DIY high right now so … I’m sure I’ll learn to be more humble about them in a week or so. ~ karen!

  2. Fonda says:

    Great idea!!! You pissed, burped and farted out a good ONE! Come…Let us adore you!

  3. Teri says:

    Fiendishly clever. Your tree looks all homey and cosy and Christmassy.

  4. MaggieB says:

    O.M.G. Mrs! This HAS to be the greatest most awesome-sauce Christmas DIY E.V.E.R!!! I’m gibbering with impressed at a base celll level of excitement and superlatives. Will have to make a big mug of Hot chocolate, grab a plate of biscuits (cookies not sausage gravy variety) for dunking and dipping and fishing out with a spoon because I’m going to have to sit down and read through again. Absolutely the bath burping angel farts of the Season award has to be given to you, no contest!

  5. mia says:

    The tree is so beautiful, really – what a great idea! And I’m so impressed with that snow globe dessert I can barely contain myself…that is fabulous, gotta make it for Christmas. But what I’m really waiting for Ms. Santa to bring…hoping and praying for….is a recipe for turkey. Yes, a succulent, extra-special, Karen-recipe turkey with gravy. Each year I do something different with my turkey, which I serve at both Thanksgiving and Christmas because once just isn’t enough…and some of those turkeys turned out fabulous (like the one I marinated in the Mexican orange liqueur, Controy, for 24 hours before cooking, back when I was living in Mexico). That was truly beyond words! However, because I do something different every year, I never know if my turkey is going to turn out well…and so I keep scanning your blog archives for a yummy and reliably-tested Karen turkey recipe. Just saying’ – I love love love the tree, and the dessert is to die for – but I’m desperate for a turkey recipe! Maybe this year you could give us the gift of true Turkey Enlightenment…the Karen way!<:}

  6. Looks good. But not as good as the tree my grandparents had when I was a child in Germany. A real tree, with silver decorations and beeswax candles on little holders. We’d sit on Christmas eve and take bets on when a particular candle would go out, while eating home-made German christmas biscuits. There was the scent of beeswax, pine and cinnamon and spices. Those were the days…

    • Alena says:

      Hi Heidi,
      I have similar memories since I grew up in Europe. The Christmas lights novelty did not make it to us until I was in my early teens, I think, so having real candles on a Christmas tree (and sparklers, I loved the sparklers) was a normal thing. We never had a problem with the tree catching on fire or anything else. Except, I think, once a candle dripped a few drops of wax onto the Persian rug (tree skirts weren’t a thing and so to this day, I don’t use one) even though we had some plastic sheets underneath the tree and Mom was ready to have a heart attack (but since it was Christmas, she reconsidered).
      Also, trees were not cut two months ahead so that at Christmas time you actually had a beautifully fresh tree that smelled magnificent ….. yes, those were the days.

      I am hoping Karen will come up with a DIY for sparklers. 🙂

      • MaggieB says:

        Real candles still available now. And the forestry commission typically on the second or third advent weekend has a an area where you go and pick your yree, cut it down, haul back to the car park and they net it up for you. Then I’ll put candles on that one with tiny white led lights wrapped around for when we’re not in room. But love this idea for the tree in the Hof using outdoor lights.

    • Nicole says:

      So how did you guys prevent the tree from catching fire? Was it just because it was such green wood? I’ve always wanted to know that every time I’ve read a description of a tree with real candles!

      • MaggieB says:

        Yes, basically. And keep it well watered, and someone always in room once they are lit. But typically that’s not a problem because your lighting them because you are going to be there. There are candles that burn quite quickly but the beeswax are special I have to say!

      • alena says:

        We actually did not even have the tree in water. I remember that my dad made a metal stand for the tree himself (basically it was a hollow pipe about 10″ long, with two wing screws that could be tightened and three spidery feet) and that was it. When I was 10 or so I could not care less about watering the tree and quite frankly, I don’t even know if any water-holding Christmas tree stands were available at that time (or tree stands in general – I grew up in Eastern Europe).
        The candles were lit only if we were in the living room, the tree was never left unattended.

        • Karen says:

          Just to be safe, I think now is a good time to state that a local store (the bakery) burned to the ground a few years ago because their store Christmas Tree caught on fire. Just putting it out there. 🙂 ~ karen!

          • donna says:

            … some years ago I photographed a tree with real candles for a home decor magazine and the photo made the cover. The magazine got smacked down by the fire department by way of a stern letter and they had to print an apology and retraction of that particular idea in very large print in the next issue.

    • Karen says:

      Yep, a real tree is the only way to go. Although I am still covered in sap marks. I can picture those little candleholders. We must have had them at one point. ~ karen!

  7. Insert wide mouthed emoji. Times three.
    I literally shopped for these last week. On Amazon. No way was I paying that. I have donkeys, goats and a horse to feed, and chase off train tracks, for crying out loud. This might actually make me go to town for the string of lights. I’m pretty sure I’ve got everything else. So friggin awesome.

    • TucsonPatty says:

      A joke from years ago: Little Johnny was late to school one day and the teacher asked him why? He replied, ” The fence was down and the goats got out and got on the railroad tracks. The train came along and ripped their asses off!” “Little Johnny! Don’t say asses, say rectum!” He replied “Wrecked ‘um hell! Tore ‘um all apart!” I don’t know why I have always laughed and laughed at this joke!

    • Karen says:

      The price of them to buy is INSANE. Money much better spent on hay and halters. ~ karen!

  8. Paula says:

    Very nice! Thanks again.

  9. Julie C says:

    Okay – I knew it… you’re a genius!!

  10. TucsonPatty says:

    This is absolutely wonderful!!! I make “stuff” to sell at my salon…wonder if this would sell. Is it enough work that I wouldn’t want to give it up? People wouldn’t want to fuss with it once they got it home because they weren’t the person who put all the work into it?? I’ve just now talked myself out of it…too busy with other “makings”. Right now it is jars with Christmas bulbs and dew drop lights inside them. They are pretty.

    • Karen says:

      I’d say they’re too much work for selling. All the work is fun (the hot glue candle drips is a LOT of fun, lol) but there’s a lot of waiting for things to dry. :/ ~ karen!

  11. Adrienne in Atlanta says:

    Interesting! A friend had a few hand dipped faux candles similar to this concept, and they smelled like cinnamon. She asked about them next time she went back to the store where she bought them, and they had added cinnamon to the silicone. When they were switched on, the heat would cause the cinnamon to diffuse slightly. I love cinnamon so the idea always stuck with me. (The smell probably doesn’t last more than a few years, I’d guess.)

    • Karen says:

      Yep. It’s a thing. You add cinnamon or you can add essential oil to the silicone, but with LED bulbs there is no heat to warm them up and disperse the scent. ~ karen!

  12. Alena says:

    I am thinking I will probably not have a tree this year (probably the second time in my life – the first time when I moved to my current house exactly 12 years ago (this time of the year) and at Christmas, the house did not look very cozy; I just spray-painted a big dead branch red and I hung some chandelier crystals on it in lieu of decorations) because I expect a friend and there will be 3 greyhounds milling around. I have lots of houseplants this year that are really taking up every available space and I don’t think there is any left for a tree. Otherwise I would probably try to make the candles since I have string lights galore.

    Why did you dip the candles in the silicone? To make them more opaque or to give them the long tips?

  13. Annie says:

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!! Great job! Merry Christmas to you Karen and thank you for the fun and informative articles. You rock!

  14. Layra says:

    I like the candles, but I love your boots! Where did you get them?

    • Karen says:

      The boots on the ground in front of the tree are my old riding boots from when I was a teenager and the ones on my feet are Hermes. I got them used at an antique market. ~ karen!

  15. Melissa says:

    I’m totally trying this!

  16. Marilyn Meagher says:

    It looks great! I love the copper pail.

    • Karen says:

      LOL, that’s my chicken feed holder! It was from my mother’s house. I had to dump all their food out, clean it and bring it inside a few nights ago. ~ karen!

  17. Eileen says:

    I love this idea because I had real candles Glowing and Sparkling around my house one Christmas season party/gala and happened to look over and saw that I was about 10 seconds from turning my dining room sheers into a wall of fire!! Since then, I’ve banned the real thing from my house in favor of the timed, wax ones. All I have to do now is buy stock in batteries, but it’s worth it not to worry about setting the house in flames. Your candles are really clever and so pretty; the tree looks so charming, Especially because the candles aren’t straight. It’s looks so real and homey. Do you have any ideas for incorporating fragrance into the season. I’ve bought sprays, scent sticks, etc., which are fine, but don’t last.

    • Karen says:

      I use all of the above Eileen. A reader introduced me to Thymes Frasier Fir scent and I haven’t looked back since. It used to be hard to find but now it’s almost everywhere. The candles are strong enough to scent a whole room. I use the candles, room spray, hand soap, lotion and wax pots. It is all Frasier Fir, all the time in December. Ha! ~ karen

  18. Tracy says:

    You should have posted this in February so I would them done by Christmas! Now, how am I going to open up all my presents with blistered fingertips covered in white paint? I’ll kinda mad at you….only because I now how PVC pipe on my grocery list Ü
    You are awesome!!

  19. NinaMargo says:

    Karen, as always, nothing short of brilliant. Thank you for this and for the Snowglobe a la Mode. That will be a great project for my granddaughter and me while her mom is out shopping. (We’ll be having more fun I think!)

  20. Jody says:

    Did someone have 10-12 great ideas that pushed their way from the deep recesses and bubbled up? Is this how the Jacuzzi was invented?

  21. annette says:

    Karen, I’ve followed you for years (and never before commented) but I think this is quite possibily your most ingenious idea yet! Love the silicone to create the flame tip, just amazing.

  22. Cheryl Smith-Bell says:

    Great DIY! I think this would also work on your mantle/ table center piece, I don’t put up a tree, because I have cats that would not leave it alone, and I’m usually gone to my daughters for Christmas, but it would be a cool alternative to real ones that might get knocked over! Genius! You rock girl!

  23. Patty says:

    LOVE! But what I really want to know is how you anchored your tree in the copper tub so it won’t tip over.

    • Karen says:

      My fingers are crossed Patty. It’s in a tree stand that’s like a bucket but a bit wobbly. If I’d had more time I would have filled the copper tub with sand to stabilize everything. As it is, the tree is just in there in a stand with no legs. But I have used fishing line to attach the tree to the wall behind it just in case. ~ karen!

    • J. Rowan says:

      Yeah, me too, that’s what I want to know! I love it and I have one of those copper bins and never knew what to do with it. …and the candles look great too.

  24. Gael says:

    This is pretty awesome! They look very pretty.

  25. linda in illinois says:

    amazing !! glory be to God in the Highest.. (Angels singing). I grew up in a dirt pour home. We had an aluminum tree my mom made out of cardboard and aluminum foil, we had a light with a red, blue, green and yellow wheel that spun around when turned on, that gave us a light show never experienced by the rich folk. When we could afford a Christmas tree, she bought those bubble candle lights and put them on it. It was amazing to us how that worked. The other day while I was shopping I spotted those bubble candles and bought a set for myself. Course there were only 7 to a set but my mom bought them at 25 per set and they didn’t cost an arm and a leg to get way back in the day. I love candles in the tree, they make me all warm and fuzzy inside. Love your tree and when you are done decorating it, please post more photos..

  26. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    WOW! Your best Christmas DIY ever!

  27. Mary C. says:

    I got these the other day. They even have a remote. I’m not as crafty as you and my ADD only allows projects that take an hour or less…..
    http://amzn.to/2j1QVan

  28. Sara Gerdes says:

    I am so freaking excited about this diy! I had all but given up having candles on my christmas tree. I can’t tell you how many Scandinavian blogs I’ve seen that show real trees with real candles and how it’s “totally doable”, but somehow I couldn’t pull the trigger on that project. Now I will not be outdone by my Swedish brethren!

  29. Eileen says:

    I went to the link, http://amzn.to/2jyUjbY and ordered the frasier pine oil and diffuser reeds. I have a ton of glass containers. Thanks so much for the information.

  30. Toby Earp says:

    Reading, I was not sure this was going to work out until I came to the bulb-dipping step. Before that the bulb-candle effect looked, sorry, a bit tacky. Not anymore. Nice trick! Well done, Christmas angel.

  31. Therese says:

    Wonderful idea. We used to have those old bubbling candle sticks of clear with a red bottom….they were my favorite.

    Good post. Thanks!

  32. Amy Watson says:

    Awesome idea and great DIY this is in my top 3 Christmas projects !!!!!!! Thanks Karen and Merry Christmas to you🌲⛄

  33. Jaine kunst says:

    You are totally BRILLIANT!!!!!!!

  34. Jackie says:

    You’re just full of great ideas & this is one of your best yet. I love it. I won’t do it but I really love the look of it. Thanks for all your hard work & sharing.

  35. You’re an effin’ genius! Now I’m sorry my tree is already up and decorated. You officially have the prettiest tree in all the land.

  36. Bonnie Goodrich-Wilcoxson says:

    Wonderful! Gotta do this! Thanks, Karen. Happy Christmas!

  37. Teresa says:

    Uh…. was I supposed to be doing something on the Christmas pledge list? Ooops.

  38. Mary W says:

    Positively gorgeous – perfect – old timey and homey. LOVE it. You dun good, gal.

  39. Elaine says:

    You leave me speechless, Karen …. this is pure genius!! How the heck do you ever come up with these ideas but then, more importantly, bring them to fruition? (My big word for Wednesday. 😉)

    You must have been a top student in school because you are so darn, over-the-top smart with a capital S! Well done!

  40. Wonderful! We had a set of candle lights waaaaaaay back in my youth, as part of the family Christmas decorations. As a kid I never appreciated them – I wanted the same colourful big ass bulbs as my friends’ trees had – and by the time I was old enough to see their beauty, the strings had had their day and were ready for the trash bin. So nice to see these again! Thanks Karen.

  41. Allison says:

    We have a second tree this year and got battery operated votives on a timer in mini mason jars for it. I wish I’d had this DIY, but the mason jars will have to do!

  42. CindyR says:

    Fantastic! The only thing I’d want to do differently would be to use an empty yoghurt container instead of the sharp pop can. I know, I know, where’s the fun in that? But it would save me some stitches, and that’s to be desired. Happy Christmas to your household! Please update this post with a photo of some hens snuggled in the branches of your tree amidst the gorgeous DIY candle lights. Thank you, very much.

  43. Very clever! I love how it looks so old fashioned but it’s 100% safe! Excellent job!

  44. MindyK says:

    What they said. This might be my one Christmas craft for the year. I even have time because I’m not putting up my tree for another two weeks (kid at college+new dog… in the meantime, a fancy candle). But seeing this makes me a little sad I threw away the remains of a long-dead science project that was–of course–built from plastic pipe in the perfect size. Isn’t that always the way?

  45. Heather says:

    Wow! Love it! Very inspired!

  46. Melissa Keyser says:

    Those are amazing, great job! I would imagine if you can find the flickering type lights, it would be even more magical. Not the ones that blink, mind you, but the ones that where if it was your living room light you’d go crazy and swear to your spouse the light keeps flickering and he can’t see it and then you’d have a huge fight.

    • Karen says:

      LOL! Yes, the flickering lights would be fantastic! If you splurge and buy the individual candles that go on the tree they *do* flicker. Noticeable enough for everyone to see it. 😉 ~ karen!

  47. Julie says:

    Just….whoa! 🙂

  48. Holly says:

    Thanks Karen, you’re always inspiring to me (to buy more stuff!) I immediately ordered these “50 Warm White LED Flameless Christmas Candle Indoor String Lights with Tree Clips” for $45 US from Amazon and put them on my first Christmas tree in 5 years along with my hand knit Christmas balls or Julekuler designs from Arne & Carlos. 50 were perfect for my 6′ tree from IKEA. Just beautiful.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GVSZV9E/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    PS. because of you I’m a Rough Linen addict, have several Cattails Woodwork pieces and swear by OxiClean.

  49. Awesome tutorial Karen! I shared this one on our Pinterest board =)

    Cheers!

  50. PMK says:

    Once again, Karen, you have demonstrated your brilliance. I stumbled upon these a couple of years ago when I was searching for something else. They are called Halloween lights. They will definitely be cheaper in the off season https://www.holidayleds.com/citrine-orange-strawberry-led-christmas-light-20607r-b.aspx

  51. Marti_J says:

    K, I am blown away. Really, really great idea! And one that I, the laziest decorator in the universe, am likely to do. Er, next year. (No car at the moment. Long story. Glad you didn’t ask.) But I promise, next year, I’m all in.

    I have to plan a baby shower in early January. The “mother to be” is older, no games, no frou-frou cake. Probably cheese nibbles (not CHEEZ NIPS) and the salad with cranberries, goat cheese and salad. Ideas for serving the cheese to nibble on, please? Have you done that already? Are there cheeseball recipes that actually are good… anywhere?

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