Electric Tealight Votive Craft (ages 5+)

This craft is a good afternoon-filler because it is challenging for youngsters and has multiple steps, which can even include a nanny-and-tot or parent-and-tot expedition to the dollar store for the supplies! All supplies may already be found around the house except the battery-operated tea lights, so this craft can cost as little as the $1 for two tea lights. It was $6 for me to buy all the supplies new, but this craft only used a fraction of the tissue paper and glue so there was a lot left over for future crafts. Bonus: the finished product looks fancy enough to be a birthday or holiday gift for a loved one.


  • Clear glass or clear plastic container eg. recycled jar (the “votive”)
  • Tissue paper or colourful paper napkins
  • Safety scissors (optional)
  • White glue / school glue
  • Water
  • Recycled container to mix glue and water
  • Recycled lid or small container for drying stand
  • Paintbrush
  • Battery-operated tea light


*any step can be done by the child, by the caregiver, or by both, according to the child’s skill level and attention span
  1. Have your little one tear or cut one sheet of tissue paper or an unfolded paper napkin into pieces approximately 2″x2″ big of any shape. Cutting a single layer of tissue paper can be frustrating for them, so if cutting instead of tearing, first fold the the whole sheet of tissue paper into a square approximately 4″x4″.
  2. Trim all the edges off so that the squares don’t stay linked by the folds
  3. Cut the resulting stack of 4″x4″ squares in half in both directions
  4. This makes loose 2″x2″ squares, or if you have gone the tearing route, a pile of irregular pieces about this size is great! Use up this batch then make more as needed, but wash and dry sticky hands before going back to cutting or tearing steps.  At this point, if you have not already, put your little one in washable clothing and move to a washable surface or work over a plastic tablecloth.
    Not shown: Mix a small amount of white glue and water in a 2:1 ratio in a disposable container (for easy cleanup).
  5. Tissue paper is much more fragile than the newspaper used for paper mache, so rather than applying the thinned glue directly to each square of tissue paper, instead paint the glue onto one section of the glass votive at a time.
  6. Apply a dry tissue square onto the wet patch of glue on the votive. Then dab glue on top with a small paint brush until covered by a thin layer, ideally not dripping (see Troubleshooting). Don’t worry, the white glue dries clear!
  7. Repeat until all outer surfaces of the votive are covered, overlapping as much as you want (it looks great that way!) and leaving the base and opening bare.
  8. While the glue is still wet, tear off any excess tissue paper protruding from the base and edges; it will come off easily.

Let dry propped up on recycled bottle caps so that it doesn’t dry stuck to the table or tablecloth. Drying will take 1-2 hours, so a caregiver may need to explain to the child that they can put the “candle” in the next morning or that evening as soon as all of the white disappears (meaning the glue is dry). In the meantime you can prepare the tealight and show them how to turn it on and off.

While-wet Troubleshooting:

A. Rumpled or torn tissue paper square: No problem! Leave it that way and use more tissue squares to cover any patches of bare glass. When it dries the rumple or tear will add texture and make the piece look even more interesting and beautiful.

B. Glue drips: The caregiver can gently pass the paintbrush over the drips to spread them out and pick up excess glue without disturbing the tissue layers underneath. White glue does dry clear but drips or patches of pure white should be removed or spread out so that it dries in a reasonable amount of time.

C. Missing patches of tissue at finger-holds: After the entire votive is covered by at least one layer of tissue, set it on recycled bottle caps to dry, then remove both hands and apply additional tissue to any disturbed/missing patches that were under your fingers.

D. Sticking to table/tablecloth: Instead of directly on the table/tablecloth, set your drying votive on a small disposable object like a juice cap or a few bottle caps that can be pried off and disposed of when dry.

Once-dry Troubleshooting (not shown):

The “flaws” and individuality of this craft are what make this craft beautiful and unique; there will be no two alike.  However, if a child is upset about a flaw and the piece is already dry, simply add another layer of glue-tissue-glue to cover it up, and let dry.

Remaining steps:

Steps 9 – 10 Remove one of the electric tea lights from the package and turn it over. There may be a plastic tab to pull out that was separating the battery from the light. Then turn the switch to “on” and voila!

Steps 11 – 12 Enjoy!
Please note that while battery-operated tea lights are not a fire or burn hazard, they should not be left (on or off) within reach of toddlers or infants because the artificial flame part can be broken off and present a choking hazard. Care should also be taken to avoid breakage of the glass.

Lindsay Laurence is the Regional Manger of Nannies on Call’s Toronto/GTA region and an avid dollar store shopper.
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