Am I the only one who didn’t know that there’s a definite protocol for how to burn  jar and pillar candles? I’ve made an ugly mess of so many candles in my life—only to toss them out long before their time.

But no more because I’ve learned the secret to keeping large candles looking good and  functional right down to the last bit.

group of candles for the holidays

HOUR-PER-INCH RULE. Although it is absolutely counterintuitive, the fact is that burning a pillar or jar candle for at least one hour per inch of diameter each time you light up will give the candle many more burning hours over time. This way, the flame has enough time to melt the wax all the way to the outer edges so the whole candle burns down efficiently. Each time you cut short a burning session, the flame only burns the wax in the center, which wastes the outer wax at that level.

HOTEL TRAVEL TIP. If you’ve ever left something behind in a hotel room, you are going to love this tip. Make this the first thing you do when you walk in your room: Take a hand towel from the bathroom and spread it out on the desk or other counter top in the room. This becomes the de facto place for all of your things that you have a place for at home. Put your room key on the towel, your car keys, sunglasses, rechargers, wallet—everything. Now every thing is visible in one spot, rather than scattered about the room. As you come and go, return these items to their place on the towel. When you’re ready to check out, no searching, nothing left behind.

NONFOOD BARGAINS.  Do not buy nonfood items at the grocery store. Items like paper goods, garbage bags and cleaning supplies can all be purchased for lower prices at discount stores like Target, Walmart or Kmart. Grocery stores only sell them thinking the convenience of buying these items at the same time you buy your food will make you not mind spending twice as much.

FRUGAL FOODIE. To stretch pricey ingredients like meat, avocados, cheese and nuts, dice or chop them and sprinkle on top of your dish, rather than mixing them in. You’ll taste the yummy richness and flavor without having to use as much.

A-PEELING IDEA. Every year a woman I know would clog the garbage disposal when she peeled the potatoes for Hanukkah latkes. It was as much a tradition as candles and gelt. She and her family thought it was just a quirk of her sink. Here’s the problem: Grinding potato peels in the disposer turns them into a mashed-like mass that’s almost guaranteed to clog any drain. An easy solution is to line your sink with newspaper (or a plastic bag), peel the potatoes onto the paper, and then chuck the whole thing in the compost heap or trash.

BRING ON THE BABY OIL. If your mascara seems to be dried out, but you need to get just a few more uses out of it, trickle just a drop or two of baby oil on the wand and then mix it well. It should yield a few more coats of eyelash enhancement. (If the mascara is more than six months old, it should be replaced.)

ICY SMILE. Always running out of lip gloss? Try running an ice cube over your lips to “set” the stuff after each application. You’ll have to replenish only half as often.

THROW IN THE TOWEL. When you have just a few items spinning in the dryer, they often cling to the sides of the bin and fail to tumble. That means they take longer to dry—causing more wear on your dryer, and are more likely to come out wrinkled because they stayed bunched up. To cure this problem, add a heavier item—a dry, clean towel is a good choice (or wool dryer balls) that will knock the little items around and help them dry more efficiently. Use a towel that is in the same color range to reduce the chance of a noticeable lint problem or dye transfer.

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