DIY Christmas Gift: Coffee Candles
It's the holiday season (as much as many of us might not even like to admit it!) and whether you like it or not, T.V. screens everywhere have bombarded us with ads reminding us that we are RUNNING OUT OF TIME to purchase gifts for our loved ones, family, and friends.
I don't mind very much, because I'm one of *those* types of people that will DEFINITELY purchase your Christmas present in July!!! I LOVE planning ahead, so it was no surprise to anyone when November 1st hit and I was already manning the glue guns and planning my DIYs.
My husband had come into contact with a LOT of free bags of coffee. Neither of us are big coffee drinkers... or should I say coffee-makers? We're "coffee snobs" of the Starbucks variety, and much prefer our blended lattes to any homemade brews. We knew we would never be able to get through all the coffee beans that had been given to us, and according to the "sell-by" date on the bag, they were already past their prime when it came to brewing potential. That's when I decided to try and find a way that we could re-gift them. Enter... Coffee candles!!!! Also known as Coffee Bean Candles.
Apparently, these have been floating around Pinterest for a while now and I'm only just finding out about them. I know! What rock have I been living under???
I instantly starting googling some tutorials to figure out what the best techniques were and to get inspiration. Here are some links to some of my favorites that definitely influenced some of my decisions when it came to coffee-candle-making:
Before starting ANY do-it-yourself project, I always recommend research. Don't just find one tutorial, find many, many tutorials! See what everyone's opinions are, what techniques some people found helpful, hacks that might save you time... All of that will help you have a more enjoyable DIY experience and avoid the "but it looked so much better on Pinterest!" dilemma. The ones above definitely inspired me, and I highly recommend that you read their tutorials as well, if this is something you plan to try out.
So, let me show you what I did in just twelve steps!
FIRST - Materials! You're obviously going to need wicks, candle wax, coffee beans and grounds (I used a combination of both - mostly for design and style purposes), and jars to put your candles in. I took a cue from Thrifty Fun and purchased vanilla scented candles from the Dollar Tree. You could also purchase plain candle wax from a craft store and candle scents of your own choice, or you could use recycled/old candles you'll never burn. There's SO many possibilities. If you're using recycled candles try to find flavors that will complement the smell of the coffee. Vanilla works very well, but "masculine" earthy scents will also smell divine!
SECOND - If you're using Dollar Tree or recycled candles like I did, then make sure you REMOVE the wick from the candle before you melt it. This may seem like common sense, but I just wanted to remind you before you jumped straight into the melting pot (both figuratively and literally). No one wants chunks of metal in their beautiful candles!
THIRD - This part is a little bit difficult to explain, and I'm sorry I don't have more pictures. It took all FOUR of my hands (mine and my hubby's) to keep the wicks centered, pour the beans, and then pour the melted wax overtop. I'll try my best to write out what I did here though... First, I wrapped a brand new wick (one that was long enough to fit in the mason jars I was using as the vessel for the candles) around a pencil, and lowered it into the mason jar. I poured some whole coffee beans on top of it to make sure the metal tab at the end of the wick stayed down in the center of the jar where I wanted it. Some people say you could also use super glue to keep the wick at the bottom, but this is how I went about it. After I had the wick placed just right, secured by the weight of the whole coffee beans, I melted some of the plain vanilla candles without adding anything to them. Then, I slowly poured vanilla wax over the top of the beans. Do this very slowly - I recommend following the Factory Direct Craft method here. That is to say, pour in a little wax, let it harden, then a little bit more, let it harden, a little bit more, etc. etc., until you have completely covered the coffee beans and then left a little bit of extra room on top. Why? Well, it's very simple. If you pour in all the wax at once, the coffee beans will float to the top. That won't do you any good in the long run, especially if you're using your beans as a means to keep your wick down.
Don't worry if you've got a little bit of wax running down on the sides of your candle jars! It will add to the homemade aesthetic. For the next steps you're going to want to have a few things ready. You'll need a small strainer, a large measuring cup (or something else you can use to pour wax with), some oven mits or something else to protect your hands (wax gets VERY hot! Be safe!), a small pot, and a tin can.
FOURTH - They say the best way to safely melt wax is to use a double-boiler method. This can be achieved by filling a small pot with water, then putting the wax into a tin can, and placing that can in the pot. The water will got hot around the can, slowly melting the wax inside the can. This part is a long process so be prepared to take your time. Keep the water on a medium-low heat, and make sure not to stray too far. The last thing you want to see is wax boiling over onto your stovetop! Yikes!
FIFTH - When the wax has completely melted, add some coffee grounds. Dark roast is better because it has a stronger flavor, and will therefore have a stronger aroma. I found also that the longer I let the coffee "steep" in the wax, the darker the coloring of the finished candle was (and the stronger the scent!). You can also use candle coloring from the craft store to give your candle the scent you desire, but I found the coffee worked just fine on its own without any extra help. The amount of coffee you add will also depend on the amount of wax you're melting, but I generally followed the ratio of 1-2 tablespoons of grounds per 8 oz. of melted candle wax.
SIXTH - When you're ready, strain the excess grounds out of the melted candle wax. I don't have pictures of this process (again), but be VERY careful!!! Slowly lift the tin can of wax out of the pot while wearing oven mits to protect your hands, then carefully pour through a strainer and into a measuring cup or pouring vessel. The coffee grounds will have already naturally infused their scent into the wax, so removing the excess grounds won't take away the delicious coffee scent. It will just make it easier to burn and pour later.
SEVENTH - Pour, baby, pour! Pour all of that hot wax into your jar and then let it sit! I highly recommend putting a towel down below to protect your countertops, as it's very likely to drip out as you pour. Once you've poured, don't touch them! Let them set until they are completely cooled, preferably overnight.
EIGHTH - Once they have completely hardened, they should look something like they do in the pictures above. Remove the pencils, and trim the wicks.
NINTH - Trim the wicks, and put the lids on! That is, if you're using mason jars. Don't they look so cute now??? But wait! We're not finished!
TENTH - Hop on over to your computer and print some cute labels! I made these using Canva.com which is a free online graphic design program, but you could just as easily draw your own if you're really artistic, or design something in Microsoft Word! I thought it would be cute to make some labels with coffee-bean puns on one side, and burning instructions on the other side.
ELEVENTH - Tie the labels on the candles using raffia, twine, or ribbon.
TWELFTH - Spread the Christmas cheer and give them away!!! To make the gift extra special, you could pair the candle with a fun mug, gift card to your favorite coffee shop, or just a sweet handwritten note from a friend!
This project was time-consuming, but SO worth it! I know that it isn't even Thanksgiving yet, but I wanted to make sure that if you were going to attempt this craft, that you had ample time to do it before Christmas Day arrives! In total, I was able to make TWELVE candles using one two bags of coffee beans and around 24 dollar store candles. I call that a steal!
I also love how style-wise, these candles came out looking like upside-down-lattes. The white vanilla layer on the bottom looks like foam that gently fades into the gorgeous roast. And the combination of the vanilla scent with the coffee really plays into that latte appeal! They smell exactly like my hubby's favorite handcrafted beverage. He's so obsessed with them, he almost didn't let me give them away!
The thing I love about DIY gifts is that they're homemade and full of love. When receiving gifts, I always love the homemade ones the best, because they just show so much heart. I think its so sweet knowing how much time and effort someone put in to make something for you, just because they wanted to show you that they cared!
I'm currently burning one of these candles as I type (yes, I did break down and keep one for myself), and it is giving me all the cozy coffee shop vibes! I would 10/10 recommend this craft!
Do you make DIY gifts? Do you think you'll consider giving candles a try? Let me know! I'd love to hear how this project works out for you.
Happy holidays, everyone! Until next time,