Est. Time: 2 hours (counting cooling times)
2 pounds (.9 kg) paraffin
3 red crayons or red candle tint (or other colors)
1 teaspoon cinnamon oil (optional)
Double boiler or coffee can
1. Cover your work area completely with newspaper, then with a layer of waxed paper.
2. Break the paraffin into chunks and melt it over hot water in a double boiler. Alternatively, put the wax in a clean coffee can and set it in a pan of hot water.
CAUTION: Paraffin is extremely flammable. Never heat it over an open flame or directly over any heat source. It may catch fire if you do. Never leave heating paraffin unattended.
3. Add crayons or candle tint (peel the paper label off the crayon first) until you're pleased with the color. Add the cinnamon oil.
4. Remove the paraffin from the heat. Using tongs, dip a pinecone into the paraffin for a few seconds. Gently lift it out without shaking off any excess wax. Allow the cone to cool for a few seconds, then set it on the waxed paper. Repeat with remaining cones.
5. After the cones are completely cool, dip them again. For second and subsequent dippings, keep the paraffin as cool as possible while keeping it liquid. Too-hot wax will melt off the residue from previous dippings.
6. Dip the cones as often as you want, until the wax is as thick as you want.
7. Arrange the cones in a basket along with a few sprigs of evergreens. Add a ribbon to the handle,
8. At the risk of sounding like an edgy aunt, caution the recipient not to store the coated cones too close to the fireplace. They really are fire starters-inside or outside the fireplace.
Paraffin: hardware stores and wherever home canning Supplies are sold.
Candle tints: craft stores that carry candle-making supplies.
Cinnamon oil: craft stores.
Excerpted from Last Minute Christmas Gifts by Carol Taylor Copyright 1995 by Altamont Press. Excerpted, with permissison by Altamont Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.