Learn how to make personalized candles with your favorite photo on them using an easy packing tape transfer! This gorgeous handmade gift can be made in 15 minutes for under 5 bucks.
Recently I was browsing a photo gifts site and saw cute candles that were personalized with photos on the glass. I thought it would be a great gift idea for kids to give grandparents…until I checked the price and found out they were over $30 each! I like presents from my kids to actually be from my kids and $30 is out of their price range (plus who wants to pay that much for a candle anyway?) So I did some digging and figured out how to make our own personalized candles for – get this – less than five bucks each. DIY for the win!
And if you’re thinking it’s worth the money not to have to deal with the hassle of making gifts, let me stop you right there. This is one of the easiest DIYs I’ve ever done. Seriously, it’s simple enough that kids can actually do it on their own and it turns out beautifully!
And there are no expensive supplies to buy: all you need is a color copy of your photo and packing tape. Yup, that’s right, packing tape.
How to make personalized candles
With less than 15 minutes of effort you can transfer a photo onto packing tape, which you can apply to the glass of a candle like a sticker! The tape adheres perfectly, even when you burn the candle for hours.
I used glass jar candles from Walmart that are about 4 inches tall and cost around $4 each. Packing tape only costs a few dollars and color copies are usually around 50 cents, so if you are making a few of these you can easily put them together for five bucks each.
Packing tape transfer instructions
NOTE: readers have let me know that this technique works much better if you use a photo with a light colored background. If the photo has a dark background the tape does not get very sticky again, so please keep that in mind before giving this project a try. Alternatively, if your photo has a dark background you could print it on sticker paper, as described in this glass photo block post.
Start by using your favorite photo editing software to size your photo to 2 inches high and 3 inches wide, and either have it printed on a color laser printer or make a color copy of it (this is important: an inkjet print won’t work!) If you don’t know how to size your photo, you can send it to a print shop and just ask them to print it out at 2×3 inches. Remember, you want this printed on plain paper, not photo paper or cardstock, and it must be a laser print. If you want to make multiple candles, you can have multiple photos printed out on the same piece of paper.
NOTE: I printed out a photo and a quote – you can transfer anything you can print! If you are transferring a photo, use a white candle. If you are transferring a quote or something else that’s all black, any color candle would work.
You will also need heavy duty packing tape (Duck or Scotch brands work great – avoid the super cheap dollar store kind).
Watch this video to see how easy it is to make your own personalized candle (written instructions follow):
Pull off a piece of packing tape and tape it down across your photo, making sure the tape completely covers the photo.
Use a credit card to smooth the tape down. Go over the tape a couple of times to make sure it is well adhered.
Cut out the photo.
Fully submerge the photo in a bowl of water and let sit for 10-15 minutes.
Take the photo out and peel the paper off the back. It will leave some white paper fibers, which you can remove by rubbing it gently with your fingers.
It can help to dip the tape back in the water a time or two to get all the white paper fibers off.
When it looks completely clean, lay it face down on a towel and allow it to air dry. When it’s completely dry, the tape will be sticky again, and you can smooth it down on the glass for a personalized photo candle.
NOTE: readers have let me know that this technique works much better if you use a photo with a light colored background. If the photo has a dark background, try using sticker paper as described in this post instead.
For more examples of packing tape image transfers, visit this post at A Piece of Rainbow.
Looking for more DIY gift ideas? Check out these posts: