The Safest (& Cheapest) Ways To Use Candles For Gorgeous Outdoor Holiday Displays

Candles are a popular sight during the winter holidays. They create a soft glow and provide illumination when we're all feeling the effects of the sun going down earlier. With the right approach and materials, you can use real types outdoors as well as inside the home. Candles can make beautiful decorative displays for your porch or entryway — as long as they're used correctly to avoid the spread of a fire. Some of the safest, easiest, and least expensive ways include placing them in outdoor glass lanterns or arranging them inside glass jars without lids.

Dealing with candles does require extra care, as the flames can present a fire hazard and melted wax can make a bit of a mess. There are also some safety considerations depending on the weather conditions and climate where you live. It's not a good idea to use candles outside in an area where there has been a long drought, and keep in mind that outdoor candles are included in any burn bans. If the weather forecast indicates windy weather, it's also best not to use them unless they're in containers that shut out the wind. Glass lanterns have small vents for air at the top and are safer than open jars. Further, never leave lit candles unattended overnight; instead, always remember to extinguish the flame after a few hours.

How to safely use glass jars and lanterns with candles

Clear glass jars, which are available at Dollar Tree but used without the lid, and outdoor lanterns, sold at Walmart, are typically low-cost and allow the flame to clearly be seen while still protecting the candles from wind or moisture. They also provide a safe barrier to avoid any danger, as they'll keep the candle from tipping over and possibly spreading the flame. However, even when using jars or lanterns, be sure to place any candle displays far enough away from your house or anything flammable such as trees or shrubs. 

Glass lanterns usually have small "doors" that open and close, allowing the candle to be protected from the elements. When placing the candle inside the lantern, you can stand it up directly on the base as long as it's sturdy, or you could place it inside a glass votive candle holder to ensure it doesn't tip over. If you don't want to use a lantern, you could use a wide-mouth glass like a Mason jar. To do this, put an inch of sand in the bottom of the jar to hold the candle in place and make the wax easier to clean up. You can either place taller pillar candles or small votive types in your jars, keeping in mind that the smaller ones will need to be replaced more often.

How to decorate with glass lanterns and jars

When displaying candles outside, you may want to enhance your decorations with some inexpensive items, but it's important to always use caution around the flames. For example, while you could use some freshly-cut evergreen boughs to add a traditional holiday look, these should be kept a safe distance away from the candles to prevent the spread of a fire. Further, be sure to use fresh boughs instead of dried ones, as those would be more flammable. Pine cones are also an option, but since they begin to dry out once dropped from the tree and are full of resin, they are also flammable, so be cautious with how you place them. Both of these natural materials could be found in your yard, making them a free decorative option.

Another beautiful, inexpensive, and safe option is a colored glass votive, which can be placed inside a lantern and is available at Dollar Tree. These don't cost much but will add a colorful glow to your display while protecting your lantern from dripping wax. You can also place glass "gems," which are sold at Walmart, or glittery ornaments near your jars or lanterns as well. These will cause the light to reflect, creating a sparkly effect in the flickering glow of the candles.