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Decorative and scented candles to set the mood

When you think about the associations between candles and parties, you probably think of two things: birthday cakes and gifts. Maybe you envision the rainbow-colored candles on the cake at your child's last birthday, or the soy candles you gave your natural-product-loving Secret Santa recipient at the office Christmas party last year.

However, candles have much more versatile party-related purposes -- there are many different types of candles, and they can be used as party decorations in a variety of different ways.

Party-Prop Gel Candles

Gel candles are amazing because if they didn't have a wick sticking out of the top, you would never know they were candles. The gel has a translucency that makes it perfect for candles designed to look like liquid, which means you can buy gel candles designed to look like things that can make great party decorations -- such as mugs of beer, martinis, an undersea scene or flowers submerged in water -- both before and after they're lit.

Centerpiece Jar Candles

It's not news that candles make great centerpieces. However, instead of a pillar candle or tall thin candles in a candelabra, consider using a jar candle as a table centerpiece at your next get-together -- it's like a candle and candleholder in one, and there's no chance of any wax dripping onto your tablecloth.

Common Uses for Scented Candles

When you're hosting a party, you can start burning a citrus or other fresh-scented candle a couple of hours before your guests are due to arrive, to give the air a lift and make everyone feel invigorated and energized as they enter your home.

Scented candles are especially popular over the winter holidays because the combination of a gentle flame and scents like apple cinnamon, egg nog, maple sugar and chocolate mint inspires that warm and cozy festive feeling of sitting by a fireplace with a warm drink.

In recent years, one of the most talked-about applications of scented candles is as a tool in real estate. Homeowners and realtors burn candles that smell like fresh-baked cookies in a home for sale, to create a comfy feel and make it easier for prospective buyers to envision living there.

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