On festive winter nights, votive holders filled with flickering tea lights can add instant ambience to a room. “They give you that sparkling effect,” said the interior designer Miles Redd, who uses them often, especially when he’s entertaining.

“It makes everything seem rich and glittering,” he said.

Compared with standard taper candles, Mr. Redd continued, tea lights have a slightly more casual vibe — with less cause for worry. “Tapers sometimes drip wax on things, which can be a nuisance,” he said. “And votives are a little safer.”

Also, “the light is lower, a little more discreet and softer.”

For maximum impact, he suggested using them in multiples.

“I’m a fan of more, for sure,” Mr. Redd said. “I put them on the mantel, I put them on tables, and I certainly put them on the dining table. They’re good anywhere you want a little pool of light.”

  • What size is best? Smaller votive holders often look appealing arranged in clusters; larger ones make a statement when you use just a few.

  • Are transparent votive holders best? Not necessarily, because you’ll see flickering light even if the flame is obscured from the side. “It all boils down to the look” you want, Mr. Redd said.

  • Do you really need to buy a votive holder? Actually, you don’t, Mr. Redd said, noting that while he owns proper silver votive holders, he also likes to repurpose small cups to hold tea lights.


Glass votive holders with silver-leaf and frost finish

$16 for set of six at Jamali Garden: 201-869-1333 or jamaligarden.com

Votive holder with large-scale black or white marble base and frosted glass diffuser

From $780 at Apparatus: 646-527-9732 or apparatusstudio.com

Clear and colored glass votive holders from Iittala

About $25 each at FinnStyle: 866-617-6176 or finnstyle.com

Wood votive holders topped with antiqued mirror

$60 each at Spartan Shop: 503-360-7922 or spartan-shop.com

Perforated porcelain votive holder

$9 each at West Elm: 888-922-4119 or westelm.com

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