If you come over to my apartment for dinner, chances are that my boyfriend and I will be burning at least eight candles. Specifically, unscented, white 10-inch tapers in haphazardly arranged groups of silver candlesticks.
There might be five or six on the dining table. A few on our sideboard. One on the windowsill. And maybe one or two on the coffee table. Eating by candlelight has dropped all pretense for us and just become something we regularly do. It’s cozy, intimate, and, hey, who doesn’t look good in candlelight?
But while romantic, this habit can get expensive. We burn through more candles in a week than I care to admit. (A conservative estimate? Somewhere between six to eight.) I’m embarrassed to say that I have spent upwards of $30 on a pack of 12 candles, only to watch us burn through them in just a few days.
Once that happened, I quickly began a hunt for affordable candles. I wanted to score an 8- to 10-inch candle for under one dollar, which I thought would be reasonable if we were going through about 30 candles a month.
I first checked out Costco, only to be disappointed to find that they had no candle options to even consider. I then went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond, but their candles were over $1 apiece. Amazon was fruitless, too, which I was quite surprised by.
My boyfriend suggested that I check out Ikea, but their offer of an eight-pack of candles for $10 didn’t meet my less-than-one-dollar rule. Really, Ikea? I expected more from you.
Then, one night, I was at my sister’s apartment for dinner. She had a bunch of votive candles lit on the dinner table. She mentioned in passing that she got a 12-pack for $11—and used a coupon to get an additional 20 percent off, bringing the total to $8.80. The location? Michael’s, the craft store, where I thought I’d go only if I wanted to make an elaborate scrapbook and nothing else.
Intrigued, I went to Michael’s and came across their store brand of candles. Their 10-inch tapered candles were sold in sets of 15, festively called “party packs.” And the price? $7.99—that’s 53 cents per candle! I can tell you from extensive experience that they have a good burn time—maybe six to eight hours or so—and are mostly dripless.
Even better, you can almost always find them on sale. The last time I was there, all candles were 40 percent off, meaning I could score a 15-pack for $4.79. I literally bought hundreds of candles.
Now, I’m not saying that this is the absolute best or the most affordable candle out there. I’m saying that I haven’t found a better deal yet. And I’ve looked hard.
If you know of a place that offers a better price per candle, don’t be shy (really—I’m always looking), but for now, whenever somebody asks where I get my candles from, I don’t even think about it: Michael’s.
Robert Khederian is the senior social media manager and a columnist at Curbed.