Sparklers for the First Day of Winter

light sparklers to celebrate the first day of winter

“Now THAT was a hit,” said my husband after the kids were in bed.

This week hasn’t been out of the ordinary for us. My husband has done three 24 hour on call shifts and a person very close to me is in hospital.  It only takes a few days of randomness to send the family into chaos, doesn’t it? A few days out of the house, a few extra activities or some unexpected event can shift the routine and balance. I’ve learned to lower my expectations during these times and get back on top of it all when things return to normal.

During this week, Elizabeth from dotdotblog wrote a lovely guest post for me about finding the magic in the everyday.  It fit so well on my blog because the I want stuff on here to be doable.  I love browsing on the Internet and seeing all the amazing things people make and do, but on my blog I want people to say,  “I can do that!” not just “Wow, that cool.”  And that is exactly how I felt when I read Elizabeth’s post.  She suggested lighting sparklers to celebrate the first day of Winter and, amongst this crazy week I’m having, I thought,  “I can do that!”

On the way to get the kids from school today, I purchased a few packets of $1 sparklers, and after dinner we photographed shapes, swirls and words “because it’s Winter tomorrow”.

I feel like I’ve captured a small pocket of family time this week and it’s lifted my spirits. If living in the neighbourhood, you would have heard delighted shrieks coming from the backyard (and not just from the children). In fact, I think it’s one of the most fun things we’ve done in a long time and it only lasted 20 minutes or so (and cost $3).


Sparklers can be a hazard so my husband and I were very careful to instruct and monitor our children during this activity.

Camera Settings

These kinds of photographs are easy to do, you just need to find out how to control the shutter speed on your camera (just google ‘adjust shutter speed {your camera brand and type}’.  I use a Nikon D90 so the instructions are specific to my camera but most SLR and digital cameras have very similar functions.

1. Select Shutter S (rather than auto, manual or what you usually use)

2. Choose on how many seconds you want the delay to be.  I set mine to 4 seconds and that worked well.

3. Place the camera on something that doesn’t move.  So a tripod if you have one or just a box, railing, chair or other furniture that is near where you want to take the picture.  I used the railing on our porch.

4. Get the person in position with the sparkler and then count down before you push the button.  Say “GO” just after you press the button.  Hold the camera very steady. The picture is taken when you hear the delayed ‘click’.

5. We experimented and for best results, use deliberate, not-too-fast movements to draw something within the 4 seconds (and only do it once unless you want to do swirls). For example, when drawing a heart, do a heart shape in the air once, and then just hold until the click. Most of the pics below we got on the first try so it’s not hard at all. Just keep in mind that you need to draw things in the air that don’t need breaks, but rather a continuous line.

camera instructions for delayed shutter for sparkler pictures


This is super easy. Just get the kids to swirl their sparklers round and round in a circle.

swirls sparkers picture


My husband decided to try a 5 point star and this pic is our first attempt!  So, so cool!

star sparkler picture


I did a love heart by drawing a heart shape in the air once during the 4 seconds.

heart sparkler picture


K is for Kelly.  When doing letters, you have to draw it backwards so it’s the right way in the photograph.

letter k sparkler picture


I didn’t know how this would go but we got this pic on the first take!  I instructed each of the kids on which letter to draw and they stood next to each other and waited for the “go”. Can’t believe how awesome it turned out!

Love sparkler picture


My eldest daughter decided to do the Masterchef symbol becuase she is a big fan of the show.

masterchef symbol sparkler picture


Cloud shape, or is it a flower?

flower shape sparkler picture


Then, of course, you can just go CRAZY and see what comes out. Awesome. There’s four kids in there somewhere.


Just like that, I think we have a new tradition for our family: sparkler pictures to celebrate the first day of Winter. Best.


Autum — Leaves

Spring — Hanging Posy Vase

Summer — Head Wreath

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  • Reply
    Debbie @ Aspiring Mum
    May 31, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Love it! My kids love sparklers (as do I!) – we haven’t had them out for a while, and even though it’s getting so cold at night now, I think this is something we’ll definitely be doing.

  • Reply
    Ellie at Emerald Pie
    June 1, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Wonderful! I will definitely give that a go. The kids will love it!

  • Reply
    June 1, 2012 at 8:07 am

    That is so cool! I wanna try it 😀

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm

      It really was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I think we will be trying it with other things now…like glow sticks etc.

  • Reply
    Nina Downes
    June 1, 2012 at 8:24 am

    So cool – I can’t wait for my kids to be old enough to try this! They are 16 months and 33 months now so a little young yet 🙂

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 8, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Yeah, a little young yet but do keep it in mind for when they are a bit older. FUN!

  • Reply
    Kirsty VI
    June 1, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    So doing this tonight…brilliantly simple and delightful idea. Thanks heaps.

  • Reply
    June 1, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Wow!!! Your photo’s are amazing and it all looks totally magical, magic for a $1 is the best. I am so glad in your crazy week a little fun with your family was able to happen. You are amazing Kelly, such an inspiration.

  • Reply
    June 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Great idea and gorgeous shots x

  • Reply
    Sonia Life Love Hiccups
    June 1, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    what a gorgeous idea. I have always wondered how they do this. you know what I am going to be doing this weekend now 🙂 xx

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 8, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      I’ve always wanted to do it too and was surprised how easy it was!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I love the idea of this! My kids are just a bit little – I don’t really trust my 2.75 year old with a sparkler just yet. Soon though, this will be our first day of winter! Hope you bump it again next year so we all remember.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 8, 2012 at 3:21 pm

      haha…no I wouldn’t trust a 2 year old with a sparkler either! I’ll be sure to pull out the post next year. 😀

  • Reply
    Jennifer Aquino
    June 7, 2012 at 7:53 am

    This is so cool. I will need to try it one day but only day I usually have sparklers is new years eve. So have to wait until then.

    • Reply
      Kelly Be A Fun Mum
      June 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm

      Yeah, do try it ehn Jennifer! Taking pics of them just made it extra fun.

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