Holiday and special occasion tables become more festive and romantic with the gleam of candlelight -- and crystal candlesticks amplify that light. A collection or a lone heirloom or two can inspire table decor that shimmers in a formal dining room or on a crisp linen tablecloth in the garden.
1. Elegant Mix
A table that stretches to accommodate a crowd -- and a stash of just a few prized crystal candlesticks -- looks designer-perfect when a melange of shiny, pretty things marches down the center. Space the real crystal candlesticks in clusters with tiny votive lights in clear holders; small crystal vases, each holding a single flower; and mismatched heavy crystal goblets holding either votives or water and a floating flower. The arrangement sparkles as a long centerpiece that helps to unify the table and maximize the impact of the "good" candlesticks.
2. Better Than Nature
Swish some snowy linen or a vintage lace curtain over a table in the garden and invite some fairy magic to your afternoon tea. Cover a plate in white or pearl sequin cloth and set a glass trivet on top of it in the center of the table. Then start building a centerpiece with several crystal candlesticks as the anchors. Arrange the candlesticks in the middle with the tallest one at the heart of the group. Pile pastel silvered holiday ornaments -- palest pink, lavender, blue, green or oyster-white -- around the bases of the candlesticks and tuck silver fabric leaves and strands of silver berries in among the baubles. Real babies breath and one or two white tea roses in full bloom finish the display. Use dripless white candles -- if the fete will stretch on into dusk, light them as the sun goes down.
3. Contemporary Crystal
Not all fine crystal is as ornate as Great Aunt Cecily's, and your best candlesticks can migrate from the dining room to the coffee table for dining a deux. Group a half-dozen modern glass candlesticks holding beeswax candles on a heavy glass cheeseboard or a pewter charger on the table. Flank them with small platters of your favorite pickings -- an antipasto tray, cheese and crackers, mini-quiches or empanadas, crudites and hummus, or fish and chips. The centerpiece turns an ordinary evening in front of the flat screen or the fire into a no-fuss relaxing treat -- and it works just as well for hot chocolate and cookies or a bottle of your favorite vintage.
4. Glowing with Glitter
Glue and glitter amplify the effect of your crystal candlesticks on a silver anniversary table. Pick up some cheap candlesticks at a craft store or thrift shop -- look for interesting shapes or some carving, if possible. Cover the candlesticks in glue and roll them in glitter, dusting more over the top to make a thick coat of glitter that hides the pedestrian material underneath. Once they dry, mix them with your crystal candlesticks on a mirrored tray to send dazzling beams and sparkles of flickering light in every direction. Use silver candles in both the glitter and crystal candle holders.