Green Fun: Candle Making for Kids Parties

Are you trying to find activities and crafts for family fun times that are a little more green and a little less wasteful?  Honestly, how many toys and packages do my kids really need to celebrate their birth every year?!  Making candles with children may sound too difficult, but just read through this tutorial on Candle making for Kids Parties with an open mind.  With a little effort and a little mess, your kids could be celebrating their next event with this satisfying green craft.  

We play most birthdays pretty simply around our house, to be honest.  Every now and then, though, the kids ask to have a party.  Party games can be fun and eating a treat is an absolute must!  Crafts, though?  Once your kids hit an age where google eyes and pipe cleaners are no longer cool, you’ve got to up your game just a bit.

Honestly, I’m not really that crafty. Unless an item is useful for something, you probably won’t find me spending much of my precious time on it. That’s why candle making is the perfect craft for me.  Candle making for kids parties produces a beautiful and useful item for each child to take home, while increasing their skill set. Plus, it’s messy and fun.

Candle Making for Kids Parties or Any Holiday

Did you know that candle making has its own special holiday of sorts?  It’s called Candlemas and it is, for our Catholic friends, the Christian version of a festival of lights.  Celebrating significant events in Christ’s life, Candlemas falls ever February 2nd.  This is about the same time of year that we notice the days are slowly getting longer as light returns to the earth after the winter solstice.  Such a lovely holiday; so many things to celebrate about light!

We aren’t Catholic, but we do love light and candles and we usually celebrate with a little candle making activity of some sort every year.  To learn more about holidays and special days you can celebrate around the year with your homestead family, be sure to sign up to be notified of the release of our next book, Homestead Holiday!  We are SO excited to share these festivals, crafts, recipes and fun with you and your family.  When you sign up, you’ll only receive book information (no spam or junk), and you’ll also be privy to unique offers and discounts for getting in there early!  

Homestead Holidays Newsletter Sign Up l Homestead Lady.com

Candle Making for Kids Parties

Making candles with kids isn’t like candle making on your own or with your girlfriends. Candle making with kids is…an experience. Hot stove, hot wax, lots of fingers and a thousand questions. Before you take on such a green project, it’s best to learn a thing or two about candle making with a group.

So, take a deep breath and find a happy place while I share a few tips with you on candle making for kids parties.  You can do this, no problem!

FYI, when I say “class”, I mean any number of children that are learning to make candles under your tutelage. That could even be a class of one. Also, this article assumes a certain level of interest in candle making, if not experience. I’m guessing that, since you’re reading this, that you’ve read some blog posts or books on candle making.  You already have an idea that it’s something you’d like to try with children.

If not, do a bit of research on the different methods of home candle making.  FIY, there are several more suggestions for candle making projects at the end of this article.  To get you started, here are a few:

  • Learn How to Make Candles from Lonestar Candle Supply – they really know what they’re talking about, obviously.
  • If you’re wondering whether you should use bees wax or paraffin wax (the white stuff), you can ponder that with this article from Natural Soap Making Recipes.
  • Homestead Honey and her family can show you how to make dipped bees wax candles here.
  • If you’re doing this project for Mother’s Day or Christmas, Lovely Greens shows you how to make a Massage Oil Candle – I would reeeeeaaally like to get this gift.
  • If you want to start small, you can try making these cute tea light candles from Joybilee Farm.
  • After you’d made those, Joybilee Farm also has this wicked cool tutorial on how to make beeswax luminaries to put the tea lights into – these would look SO gorgeous on a deck, if your party is outside.

Chris, from Joybilee Farm, has several really helpful posts on candle making AND she even has a book on bees wax called, The Bees Wax Workshop.  As a bee keeper, I love having Chris’s book.  I’ve used it many times as I find new things to do with bees wax.  It’s a straight forward book of recipes and tutorials.  I highly recommend it.  

 

Tips for Teaching Candle Making for Kids Parties

  1. Choose only one kind of candle to make and stick to it. There are tapers and votives and larger, molded candles and so many more types of homemade candles!  However, you can’t make them all with a group of children at a party in an hour or less. At kids parties, especially if siblings are present, you will always have a variety of ages present.  You have to tailor your teaching to that reality. Even if the kids are all the same age, they’re not all going to have the same attention spans. Pick one type of candle to make. Make that one.
  2. Be sure that all your supplies laid out ahead of time. Double check that you have everything before the party starts.  You run the risk of kids getting into stuff they shouldn’t and/or beating each other with their half-done candles if you have to go off to look for something. Ask me how I know.
  3. If you’re making dipped or molded candles, start melting your wax on low heat in a double boiler BEFORE your class begins. Don’t forget.
  4. Have rules and make sure the children follow them.  For example, if you want everyone to stay in the garage while their candles are under construction, then make sure they stay in the garage. You may want to ask that a few parents stay at the party to help.
  5. Set up a place to cool the candles BEFORE your class begins. Everyone will finish at different times.  You don’t want to have to leave the instruction area to keep finding places to hang/place candles.

Which Candle Should You Make?

That question is answered with another question because it depends entirely on what age range will be at the kids party.  Here are two suggestions, plus a third option for older kids:

  1. Bees wax candle rolling for preschool age to ten year old kids
  2. Taper candle dipping for age ten to adult
  3. Optional poured mold candles for teenagers to adult – you can do some fun experimenting with molded candles!

Other options include those listed at the beginning of the post, so don’t be nervous about getting creative.  

4-10 Year Old Candle Making at Kids Parties

This kind of candle making is the safest for little ones.  For this age group, you will be rolling bees wax sheets into candles.  (Incidentally, this is also a fun, quick candle making activity for older kids and even adults.)

To Roll Candles from Bees Wax Sheets

  1. Place one bees was sheet in front of your child on top of a flat, smooth surface (like a table).
  2. Cut one length of cotton wick to place along one edge of the bees wax sheet, plus 1/2 inch more.  This extra half inch will stick out above the top of the rolled candle so you can light it once it’s finished.
  3. Begin from one end with the wick lying flat against the bees wax sheet.  Gently crimp the edge of the sheet up and over the wick to secure it it place.  Bees wax is pliable when warm.  So, as your child presses the edge of the bees wax sheet over the wick, it will warm up and flatten.  If it’s still cracking, warm the wax sheet with hair dryer.
  4. After the wick is secure, have your child gently roll the wick end to the other side of the bees wax sheet.  Help them keep the roll tight and tucked – loose candles burn funky, if at all.
  5. Once the candle has been rolled up entirely, an adult can gently press the edge into the candle to secure it.  Or, an adult can use the heat from a hair dryer or even a candle flame to warm and slightly melt the edge into the body of the candle.  Be careful not to touch the flame to the candle or you’ll get black soot embedded in the wax.
  6. Help your child smooth the bottom of the candle by rubbing it in a circular motion over the flat surface.  Apply gentle pressure to flatten the bottom of the candle.
  7. You’ll notice that bees wax is naturally soft and slightly scented.  

To get a visual demonstration of this process, please visit A Child’s Dream.

Bees Wax Sheets for Candle Making

If this is your first time rolling candles, I suggest you buy a bees wax rolling kit like the one below:

You can also buy beeswax sheets and wick separately to roll out taper candles.  If you decide you like candle making, having a roll of good wick will come in handy for future projects.

Even with little hands, these candles take only a few minutes to put together and are very suitable to shorter attention spans. Plus, the sheets come in lovely colors and your little one will be so pleased at her creation.  Honestly, I have so much fun with rolling bees wax sheets that I would do it an adult party.  You can stop here and have all age groups do this, if you feel the same.

If you’re looking for a little more action (fun) and want to produce a candle that will burn longer, keep reading.

6-12 Year Old Candle Making at Kids Parties

Call me crazy, but I really like to make dipped, taper candles with this age group. I’ve taught troops of Cub Scouts and scads of school age kids how to dip their own taper candles and the best part about it, is that it keeps them moving. Here’s an overview of how I teach this in video, with more detailed instructions below.

Basic Tips for Dipping Candles with Kids

The first step is to post basic safety rules and to read through them together.  Scroll down a bit for some sample safety rules.

Setting up the area:
  • I have a camp stove with two burners and I set up two, 6-8 foot tables on either side of the stove forming a long line.  Keeping the tables on either side of the wax vat requires that the children take the time to walk around the tables to get back for another dip.
  • Forcing them to slowly and steadily walk around the tables will ensure that the wax dries between each dipping.
To begin dipping:
  • I give each child about a foot’s worth of wicking and tell them to bend it in half, putting their finger in the bend so that the two ends dangle down. (I always use wick with wire in the center when I’m working with children because it will keep its shape much easier.)
  • Then, I have them form a line, with the first child at the stove where await my two vats of melted wax in double boilers on low heat. 
  • The children begin by dipping their wick into the first vat of wax and then walking clear around the first table. They stop at the other vat of wax on the other side and dip their wick again. Then, they walk around the other table until they come back around to the first vat of wax.
  • All in a line, around and around they go, dipping each time the come to the wax and chatting with each other in a merry, candle making way.

3 Things to Note for Dipping Candles with Kids:

  1. Keep your wax at an even heat. Never let your water or wax come to a boil.  
  2. Tell the children that the dip into the wax vat must be quick – in and out. If they let their wick stay in the vat too long, all the previous wax they’ve built up will melt off and they’ll have to start over. That can create tears.
  3. Until the wick builds up some layers of wax, it’s likely that the children will need to carefully pull a bit on the bottom of their wicks to keep them straight. Make sure they don’t do this right after they remove the wick from that wax vat or they’ll get burned.  Some boys end up doing this on purpose as part of their inherent knight-of-the-realm training which leads many young boys to be both brave and foolhardy.
  4. Always have moms stay to help with those children that get truly out of hand or are developmentally challenged in any way. Hot wax can be dangerous if the children can’t or won’t follow the rules of safety.
  5. The walk around the tables is necessary.  The layers of wax that are applied with each dip in the wax vat need to cool enough to take another layer without melting right off. Do NOT trust that the children will be able to wait a sufficient amount of time on their own. They’re eager and they’ll be having fun, and they’ll want to finish quickly. Candle dipping is not a quick activity.  It takes a good half hour to forty-five minutes to dip a taper worthy of burning. They’ll have fun as they talk and a laugh and show off for each other, but the process of dipping can’t be rushed. The tables are a necessary obstacle in their happy candle-making experience. Oooh, life lesson there.

10 Basic Safety Rules to Post for Candle Making for Kids 

Feel free to come up with rules that apply specifically to your house/classroom.  These are just some basic rules for working with hot wax in a group.

  1. Big kids should always allow younger/shorter kids to go first in line.
  2. Don’t crowd the person in front of you as you dip candles, especially if it’s their turn at the melted wax vat. 
  3. Never push, shove or get close enough to touch someone with your candle.
  4. When dipping your candle, stand still and be careful. 
  5. Never touch the stove, the melted wax or the pot.  
  6. Remove your candle from the melted wax vat quickly but carefully. 
  7. Do not swing your candle too wide while it’s dripping or you could hit someone with hot wax.
  8. If you’re done and would like to be excused, bring you candle to be hung up to dry.  
  9. Be respectful and courteous to other children and your teachers/parents.  Anyone not be respectful with their speech or behavior will be asked to leave the candle making area.  No exceptions.
  10. Have fun.

12 & Up Candle Making at Kids Parties

Molded candles are my favorite for this age because they have the dexterity to get truly creative.  Their higher brain function allows them to follow along with more detail, too. That’s not to say that an older child won’t have fun doing rolled and dipped candles, FYI.

One of my favorite things to do with the older kids is to have them bring their own candle mold material to class/the party. Any sturdy, upcycled container will do as long as it doesn’t leak out the bottom. I like this exercise because it helps the child to look around their room and home for items that they would otherwise throw away or recycle. A small milk carton, an orange juice bottle or even a glass jar that previously housed a candle can all be used to mold a new one.

Here’s a whole tutorial on Making Your Own Candle Molds – click here.

Here are some other ideas for candle making at kids parties with older children:

  1. Experiment with dyes and scents and paints for decorating your finished candles with these older kids.
  2. Provide craft knives for them to carve their molded candles with various patterns.
  3. Experiment with adding pressed flowers to the very outer layers of their molded candle.
  4. Add layers of different colored wax to make rainbow candles.
  5. You can mold candles in sand and even ice, creating wonderfully interesting patterns and shapes.

Candle Making at Kids Parties – Worth It!

Candle making with kids may seem daunting at first, especially if you’ve never made candles yourself before. I give you permission to not do everything perfectly but, go ahead and do a test batch on your own one night while your kids are sleeping. Or, get together with your girlfriends – have a candle making party!

Make sure, though, that you share this super fun experience with your children. It will take some set up and planning but that’s always true of raising these homestead kids. Candle making every year will improve everyone’s skills, add to your emergency stores and provide a way to celebrate the slow return of the spring light with your family.  Plus, it’s just plain fun.

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8 thoughts on “Green Fun: Candle Making for Kids Parties

  1. This is a great idea! My daughter’s birthday is coming up and I have been wracking my brain for something to do! We did a big party for age 5 for both of our kids and our plan is not to do another big on until 10. It is so hard to think of fun things to do though. I like the idea of letting her pick 4-6 friends to come over and do a craft like this. The kids will love the satisfaction of making something useful that they can take home!

    1. So glad it was helpful! Rolling candles is so simple and extremely rewarding, even for the adults present. If you get a nice sized kit, each kiddo can take home several. You can cut the sheets on a diagonal to get a fancier, tapered look. You can use extra sheets and cookie cutters to decorate your candles once they’re rolled, too. I have a post about that coming out this week but I’m sure you can figure it out on your own, too. Bees wax is wonderful because it’s so pliable. And smells so yummy.

      Have fun!

  2. Oh, my goodness! My kids would love this! I remember going to Candle Teas in Old Salem (historic town in Winston-Salem, North Carolina) every year when I was growing up as a Christmas field trip with school. I loved watching the women make candles! Brings back fond memories. Thanks for the really helpful post!

    1. I used to live in NC, too, and LOVED going to Old Salem! I loved pretty much everything about NC, actually. So glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you decide to try a few – rolled candles are the easiest, especially if you buy a simple kit. Have fun!

  3. Genius! This is such a great idea! They have a fun activity and at the end of the party, they get to take home something useful that they made with their own hands instead of a goody bag full of candy and plastic toys that will end up in the landfill! Another great idea I saw recently was a friend who hosted a fairy garden party for her daughter. Each of the girls went home with an adorable mini fairy garden made in a terra-cotta pot with succulents. They made little houses out of sticks and paths out of stones. They turned out adorable and each of the girls got to explore nature while making them!

    1. What a sweet thing! Succulents are perfect for kids since they don’t require too much care. I be those little post made them smile a lot longer than the candy and plastic toys would have. Thanks for sharing that – we may just have to do that next!

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