The Stockings Were Hung By the Chimney with Care

I’m finally ready to reveal the Christmas fireplace. Who knew having a mantel would be such work?

For the first 20 years of our marriage, we didn’t have a mantel. I’ve longed for that extra bit of wood to finish off the fireplace and make it look special–a place to decorate and add some charm and personality. Oh Kim, be careful what you wish for. I now have over 11 feet of mantel to call my own plus two flanking walls to decorate. When it rains, it pours.

Thanksgiving weekend, we got out all our Christmas decorations, and I brought out the nutcrackers and arranged them along the flanking walls. Just looking at them made me smile. And then I turned to the very lackluster mantel.

Mantel old 2

And this is where I left you last week. Staring at bland, barren, and blah. So Monday, I went to Target, and Tuesday I went to Ross, and Wednesday I finished up at the Dollar Store. Just by the by, the Dollar Store in the town best known for its fancy wineries is garbage compared to the Dollar Store in the town best known for its maximum security prison. I guess upscale is not your friend when it comes to cheap.

Last year, I filled a hurricane with sparkly ornaments and was quite pleased with the effect. So this year, I decided to go with a silver and red theme. I added a few more containers, a few more ornaments, a little more shine, and see what happened.

Almost Festive

While this was definitely an improvement, wouldn’t it be better if the containers on the side were filled to overflowing? I thought maybe it would be fun to cover the bump out section with wrapping paper, so it would look like a giant present, but wrapping that section on a ladder over very hard tile gave me pause. I knew I needed some height and something to tie it all together.

Growing up, we always had garland on our Christmas tree; but when I got married, I was informed that garland was tacky. I was willing to give it up for marital harmony, but recently I’d purchased a few packs for a craft project that never materialized, and then at the Dollar Store I saw some sparkly silver garland–27 feet for $3 was a deal I couldn’t pass up. I spent another $3 on silver spray-painted eucalyptus and brought it all home. With a little finissing here and there, I came up with this.

Festive Mantel 13

I’ll take a few steps back so you can see the full effect with all those lovely nutcrackers.

The Whole Shebang

I know, the couch needs a little holiday spirit. Don’t worry; I’m getting there. You’ll be so amazed. Maybe that’s overstating things, but you’re going to like it.

I thought about two fake trees in white for the side areas and bought a bunch of mini ornaments for the garland, but sometimes you need a little restraint. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll pull out the wrapping paper and a big bow. I’m glad Christmas decorating isn’t set in stone.

And now let’s take a look at that big, old tree we put up. When I was on the virtual house tour checking out all the bloggers lovely homes, I noticed some large, overstated ornaments, and figured at 10-foot plus our tree could carry it off. Now if you remember last year, we had a bit of an issue.

Fallen Tree

Trees falling at my feet make me very, very sad as do broken ornaments. It kind of kills the joy of buying pretty expensive decorations. So I decided giant, Dollar Store ornaments were the way to go and bought a bunch of big old snow flakes. The MR is a good guy, but after a week of climbing ladders and reaching all the high spots, his patience is running thin; and as you know, my guy has a lot of projects of his own. So I used a length of PVC pipe to reach the tall spots.

Hanging Snowflakes Collage

In all honesty, I wouldn’t recommend this method for really expensive, heavy ornaments; but for cheap, plastic, snowflakes, it was perfect. While our tree sports a lot of crewel ornaments I made in the 70’s, and fun foam and finger-painted ornaments the girls made growing up, and cast-offs from family we received over the years, I love it. It’s imperfect, and real, and makes me happy.

Christmas Tree Collage

Wishing you some holiday sparkle.

Do you have a theme tree or a hodgepodge of ornaments? How is your holiday mantel shaping up?


5 thoughts on “The Stockings Were Hung By the Chimney with Care

  1. Bravo, Bravo!

    We definitely have a hodge podge of ornaments made up of the same ones you described. And I treasure them, including hand made ornaments by grandmother made. I do have dreams of having a few separate trees for kids ornaments, treasured ornaments, and our travel ornaments I pick up when we are on vacation. Nothing happening to the mantle – I can’t bring myself to take down my new painting that sets on it…

    • My mom used to bring me home ornaments from her trips with my dad. We have a lot of Hawaiian shells. It’s funny how a simple ornament beings back so many memories. As for the mantel, if your new art makes you happy, by all means, I think it should stay. 🙂

  2. What a treat – bearing witness to the festive transformation of your mantel! Such a stunning space to decorate. And your tree looks magnificent. We most definitely have a hodgepodge of ornaments – like yourself – and I think that gives a Christmas tree such character. Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Dani for being a regular visitor. As you may have noticed, I’m all for character around here. I find it heartening to find someone on the other side of the world who loves her family, her animals, and her crafts–just like me.

  3. Wowieeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Love the fireplace area, thinking your idea of 2 fake trees flanking it is a great idea for next year. Last year’s tree laying on the floor made me laugh out loud, sad yes, but oh so funny to remember it. This year’s tree and decorations looks like it was decorated by professionals. It does your lovely home justice. Thank you for taking the rest of us on your journey of where to get the ‘best deals’ for holiday decorations. Merry Christmas family. Your Mr’s sister sent us her photos of their decorated home, which I will send on to you. Both you ladies rock!!!

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