Hot Topic: Candle Etiquette

Candlelight can do wonders for any holiday gathering or party: it can soften the surroundings, relax guests, and set the mood for the entire event.  Beware, however, that using candlelight improperly can annoy your guests, create a fire hazard, and take away from your dinner conversation.  Brush up your hostess skills with my candle etiquette tips that are sure to help you make the most of your candle-lit ambiance.


  • Candles and centerpieces should be about two inches below the eye level of your guest or with the use of tall candle holders, well above. A candle flame flickering between your gaze and the person across the table is annoying, not romantic.
  • Light the candles just before the guests are seated and allow the candles to burn until everyone stands.
  • Avoid burning candles during sunny, daylight hours; they should be lit only at dusk or later, or on overcast days when the table might otherwise be gloomy.
  • As a throw-back to the times when electricity was only for the rich, it is still considered a polite gesture to burn the wicks of the candles on display in order not to embarrass those who could not afford electricity.
  • Always use unscented candles for the dinner table.
  • Place any candles in their holders before lighting.
  • Follow standard safety precautions.
  • To extinguish a candle flame, use a long-handled candlesnuffer. To blow out a candle, hold your cupped hand behind the flame to prevent spraying hot wax on your linens (or guests).