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How to make a Floating Candle Centerpiece

Updated on November 7, 2012
Simple materials for a floating candle centerpiece
Simple materials for a floating candle centerpiece | Source

Super Simple Centerpieces

When you want to jazz up a table and make an attractive place to eat, you add color and, of course, flowers. If you want to add romance to a table what do you do? Add candles. It's one of those things that 'everybody knows'.

The great thing is, it's easy to combine the two. All my friends know I'm a flower nut, I tend to give vases as gifts, but a couple of weeks ago I was chatting to a friend on skype and she told me that the bowl I'd given her as an engagement present was one of the most useful gifts she had received. When another friend made a similar remark a few days ago, I got the idea to write this hub.

There just is no easier way (as my friends had discovered) to jazz up a table than to add a candle centerpiece, but when you've just rushed in from work, getting a meal together can be a challenge, never mind creating a centerpiece. What my friends had discovered was that a floating candle centerpiece is not just effective, it's quick, easy to make and generally inexpenisve. All you need are the right tools.

Candles4Less - Floating Tea Light Candle Holders (1 Dozen)
Candles4Less - Floating Tea Light Candle Holders (1 Dozen)

Very useful. They allow you to use tealights rather than floating candles. Tealights are usually easier to find.


Candles for Floating Candle Centerpieces

You don't need a vase to float a candle, but you do need a candle. Most floating candles are chunky, with rounded bottoms. They're easy to find in white and ivory (just take a look at amazon) and of course you can find seasonal candles in the shapes of leaves and flowers.

If you like to use tealights, you can easily combine the two by buying floating candle holders, small glass saucers which will carry a standard tealight and help it float. These are very effective and I always have some to hand, but beware, they are very delicate and you have to handle them carefully. The big advantage of floating candle holders is that tealights are easier to get hold of, especially if you're looking for pretty colors. You may even find them in your local supermarket. Floating candles are available in colors, but you will usually have to buy them from a specialist store.

If you don't have floating candles and can't find any in the local shops, tealights with transparent cups also do a reasonable job of floating if you choose the right container. Just check out the picture.

Vases and Bowls for Floating Candle Centerpieces

You don't need a special bowl or vase to display a floating candle. A tea cup, a saucer, even a mixing bowl will do. The first time I made a floating candle centerpieces I used a shallow glass ovenproof dish; it was all I had. I floated two candles and added slices of lemon I had left over from the meal. We set the dish in the middle of the table and enjoyed the faint lemon scent as well as the flickering of the candles. The next time I set mugs at each place setting, and it was effective, but when you choose a glass bowl you can do more. Because the inside is visible, you can fill it with something interesting. As a penniless student I picked pebbles from our garden, washed them and put them in the bowl. These days a glass bowl and a pack of vase filler is the present I give most friends for a housewarming.

Simple tealights will float.  Then all you need is a colorful bowl.
Simple tealights will float. Then all you need is a colorful bowl. | Source

Vase Fillers for Candle Centerpieces

Dollar stores are full of vase fillers, from colored pebbles to bags of seas shells, but if you want to add a little more pizazz, these are difficult to find. Beads work well as do colored vase 'gems'. If you choose transparent 'gems' you can hide a submersible LED to ad d a glow to the water, you can also tuck flowers between pebbles, under the surface, to allow the candles to float freely on top. Find a vase filler which co-ordinates with your place mats or napkins and add a 'pop' of color to your table.

Floating Candle Centerpieces: The Two Basic Styles


Vertical floatingcandle designs rely on a tall vase with one more candles floating on top. The simplest version is a trumpet shaped vase, filled with colored water with a candle floating on top. but there are many variations.

Cylinder vases are ideal for this, you can fill the vase with vase filler, water or colored water, you can even use water pearls and just place the floating candle on top, but what many people do, especially when planning to a wedding, is to fill the cylinder with flowers. Flowers such a tulips and calla lilies are often used, but the best choice is a stem covered in blossom, hence many people use orchids. Just remember the tuck the stems into the vase filler in the base, otherwise they'll float. A group of cylinders of different heights, make an excellent centerpiece.


Horizontal candle centerpieces are usually made in glass bowls. The candles may float alone, or might add floating flowers, it's an ideal use for flower whose stems are broken, so if you've created an arrangements for your buffet or entrance all, use the leftovers in your centerpiece. You can fill the bottom of the bowl with filler, you can use colored water, but most people choose to decorate the outside of the bowl. The easiest way to do this is with a wreath or garland, but if you have the time, there is nothing prettier than a shallow glass bowl filled with candles surrounded by a ring of florists foam, filled with flowers.

Don't let the foam intimidate you. Florists use foam because it makes the job easier. Here's one way to decorate a ring which is relatively quick and easy.

How to Make a Horizontal Floating Candle Centerpiece

There are many sites on the web where you can buy candle rings, specifically designed to sit around a candle, but when it comes to bowls of floating candles you have a variety of choices.

  • Bead or decorative garlands placed around the bowl. You'll need around 31 inches of garland for a 10 inch wide bowl.
  • Bunches of fruit placed around the bowl (grapes are very effective)
  • An old wreath can be 'titivated' by adding silk flowers, decorative birds, ribbons etc.
  • A multi-season wreath can be very useful - I have a large berry wreath I use in autumn and for the Christmas season. It can hang on the door or the window, or sit around a bowl of candles. Just check the measurements of your bowl and whenever you buy a wreath, make sure it would fit!
  • Buy florists foam and arrange fresh flowers. As an arrangement it's quite simple to do - here are the instructions.

The rule of three. Use three blossoms together.  Add one bunch at each point on the triangle.
The rule of three. Use three blossoms together. Add one bunch at each point on the triangle. | Source
Add your focal flowers. Make your filler flowers into bunches of three.
Add your focal flowers. Make your filler flowers into bunches of three. | Source
Add the filler flowers between the focal flowers. Fill gapes with leaves and foliage.
Add the filler flowers between the focal flowers. Fill gapes with leaves and foliage. | Source

This is what you'll need

  • 1 ring of floral foam
  • 9 Focal flowers (e.g. roses, lilies), make three bunches of three
  • 9 Filler flowers (e.g. spray roses, alstromeria), make three bunches of three
  • various leaves, berries, foliage, As required.
  • 1 Glass bowl
  • 1 Handful of pebbles or vase filler
  • 3 floating candles, or equivalent
  • water, to fill the bowl and soak the foam
  • Flower food


  1. Soak the foam ring in water and flower food.
  2. Add foliage to form a skeleton
  3. In your mind, draw a triangle on top of the circle of foam. Add one bunch of focal flowers at each point on the triangle.
  4. Add the bunches of filler flowers between each bunch of focal flowers.
  5. Add more foliage to ensure the foam is covered.
  6. Take the flowers to the their final position.
  7. Place the glass bowl in the middle
  8. Add the pebbles or vase filler
  9. Fill the bowl with water
  10. Float the candles on top
  11. Light the candles and have a great time!
A very simple centerpiece, floating candles among lemon slices, surrounded by grapes.
A very simple centerpiece, floating candles among lemon slices, surrounded by grapes. | Source

Floating Candle Centerpieces for Weddings

Floating candles make a meal special and they can do the same for a wedding reception, but not all venues allow burning candles, and while you can use electric candles in many cases, there are still no convincing electric floating candles, so check with your venue before deciding on this idea.

There are several ways to make your candle centerpiece even more special.

If you choose a vertical design, three cylinders at different heights looks good, more look even better. For a statement when guests come in, giant cylinders can be very effective, filled with long stems of orchids for example. On individual tables, place the centerpiece on a mirror mat and surround it with - more candles! You can also

  • Tie all the cylinders together with tulle or ribbon
  • Surround the cylinders with some form of confetti (I've used silk leaves and it was very effective)
  • Put an arrangement of flowers (or fruit, which is cheaper) around the bases of the cylinders.
  • Use submersible colored lights
  • Use several stems of flowers, not just one.
  • Swist ribbon in a spiral up the cylinder.

If you choose a horizontal design

  • Place a tall vase in the center of the bowl and fill that with flowers, then surround the bowl with yet more flowers.
  • Submerge flowers in the bowl (calla lilies are especially good for this)
  • Use a bubble bowl for your floating candles and add small fish
  • Pile flowers or fruit around the outside of the bowl


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