Chattering Mind

We’re nearing the end of the school year, that time when parents and kids must decide what the heck to give the classroom teacher, that devoted man or woman who works a hard day and is always underpaid. We Chatterings have hit upon a solution: hand-decorated candles are always a hit. And there’s that little spiritual lilt to the gift that makes it soar.

Hearthsong consistently carries candle decorating supplies and we’ve tried them all. Don’t buy the pens. The wax that flows out of them takes too long to dry. Instead, I wholeheartedly recommend the boxed flat colored sheets of German wax (just touching the smooth sheets is a thrill), and the wax punchers in the shapes of stars and flowers. Even a three-year-old can manage the task of punching out shapes from the sheets, and then adhering the pieces to a dinner candle using the warmth of the hand. Pretty customized candles can be made on a deadline. It’s pure fun, there’s no stress. Older children can tear bits of the wax off the sheet (or buy a box of molding wax for this) and manipulate it in their hands to create any design. Last spring, my elder son decorated a four-inch-square candle with flat wax knights on wax steeds for his stage combat/fencing teacher (a macho Errol Flynn-type guy with one pierced ear). When this man unwrapped and beheld the candle, I thought he was going to cry, and indeed he later told us that it was the best present from a kid he’d ever received.

One warning: the wax sheets are expensive, so you must tell the kids that no speck can be wasted. Tiny scraps can be rolled into polka dots, and on candles, those dots look quite festive.

What are your favorite all-purpose handmade gifts?

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