Bedecked: Mantel Edition

Yesterday I decorated the mantel for Christmas. Sorry the pictures are blurry, but I had to take them with no flash so there wasn’t too much reflection. I was inspired by Nesting Place to try a big garland over the mantel, and after that, I added other details. The thing about decorating is you have to know your tolerance for “muchness.” My mom would probably say this is “too much muchness” but my mother-in-law would be appalled by how Spartan it is. I figure it’s my house so I’ll do things how I like them!

My top three suggestions for holiday decorating are:

1. Get free greenery. We found out this year that Home Depot will give you all the free greenery you want from what they cut off of Christmas trees. We got our tree there this year and I cleaned them out of greenery, but the guy said to come back any time because they have to throw the stuff away by the ton all month. If you like the look of cut greenery, it’s great to get it for free, and you can always replace it in two weeks if it starts looking dead or exploding needles all over your carpet.

2. Shop after Christmas markdowns at places that carry decorating doo-dads. At 90% off you can get lots of fun things like clusters of berries, fruit, ribbon, and so forth for pennies after Christmas. Those sorts of things (they are usually called “picks” or something like that) also make pretty additions to wrapped presents. I have quite an assortment and I like to be able to pick through my box and do totally different wreaths and decorations every season.

3. Use what you have. Everyone says this, and everyone is right. You can always find an interesting way to use whatever items you have on hand that is still in keeping with whatever holiday or season you’re decorating for. Interesting pieces of art, china serving pieces, mirrors, candlesticks, those wedding presents you think are pretty but never use – it can all probably be incorporated if you look at it with a fresh eye.

Now that I’ve dispensed what (very) little wisdom I have about decorating, here are some details of what I did with my mantel.
The garland: I started with two pieces of fake garland that I borrowed from my mother-in-law. I then used a bunch of the free greenery I got from Home Depot to fill it out and make it look and smell much better! The twisty-ness of fake garland and the fact that fake garland is wired helps to hold the pieces of real greenery in place. After I had the greenery done, I added some ribbon of which I am inordinately fond. Finally, I put in some muted gold painted seed pods, some fake-but-n0t-fake-looking pomegranates, apples, and berries.
The stockings: In front of the garland hang the stockings. My mom made stockings for me and my brother when we were little, so when I got married she made one for Josh (boys get green ones that hang on the left, girls get red ones that hang on the right) and now Hannah, Jack, and Sarah have stockings too. Jack and Sarah’s stockings are in the mail. My parents and my brother will be here for Christmas day, so I had to put in a bunch of nails to hold their stockings too.
Since I don’t have all the stockings yet, but did have all the nails measured out and put in, I decided to fill the space with these cool old brass harness decorations my mom got in Europe when they lived there in the ’70s. My favorite is the thistle, but I like them all.
To the right of the big picture (it’s a brass rubbing I did at St. Martin in the Fields church in London, and it stays year round because it’s heavy and I like it) I made an arrangement in a soup tureen. The tureen is one of my favorite things even though it has a broken handle and no top, because it belonged to my great great grandmother. I used more of the free greenery, and some beaded pears, sprigs of berries, and small crackle painted pears, pomegranates, and apples to make the arrangement. It’s kind of a challenge with high ceilings to fill all the space, and I think this does the trick nicely.
On the left of the picture is the same bird cage and candlestick arrangement I had up for autumn, with the addition of a bow made from the same ribbon that is around the garland. It doesn’t scream Christmas, but I think it fits.
Here again is the whole view. I have to say I’m very pleased with the results, and I look forward to enjoying it all month!

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