Step by Step DIY for your Christmas Mantel

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I love a lush, gaudy full Christmas mantel, but it isn’t always an easy thing to achieve. A few years ago, I came across a tip in a magazine that completely removed all the stress of holiday decorating streamlined the mantel project. It started with a board, measured and cut to fit the mantel.

DSC00139Saint measured and cut out the space for the electrical outlet that allows us to plug in lamps and Christmas lights without a cord hanging down. Then he hammered small tacks in a triangular pattern all across the board. There is no need to measure or fret about where to put these as they are completely covered and only serve to anchor the wire that he threaded around and between tacks.

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Now it is time to add all the greenery. I like to use several small pieces rather than one long one because you can add texture by using different greenery, and you can alter the thickness as needed.

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Sometimes I wire the greenery on; other times I simply wind a strand of the greenery around the wire. This is nice and secure with nothing taped or tacked to the wood on our mantel.

I had not planned to use this antique frame this year, but it just jumped up there and would not let me take it down.

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Next, I add bits and pieces along with lights.

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I could stop here and hang stockings, but this year I have ten stockings to hang, and they will not fit here or on the basement fireplace. We do love stockings in our family! Maybe I’ll show you that update later. I’m still working on it, now. Anyway, I like the rusty jingle bells hanging down, and on the way to the Mizzou game yesterday, I scored these perfect over sized ornaments (at Home Goods) to accompany them.

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These ornaments are rather heavy, but they came with ribbon hangers which loop perfectly over the heads of the tacks in the anchor board and attach with no extra nails, tape, or danger of becoming detached from the greenery.

There you have it. It’s really all about the anchor board that you never ever see on the finished project.

DSC00167Cozy, isn’t it?

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Let the Fa La La-ing begin!

I think I may be responsible for the killing of an elf, today. Our son told his wife that Santa has to kill an elf for every day that we start putting up our Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving. Sounds to me like a slacker trying to get out of putting up lights, but I’m not sure.

I usually do wait until after Christmas because I like to give Thanksgiving its due, but I’m not cooking or hosting this year, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are so close together, I decided it was the right thing to do. I’ll stop short of Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day, but I saw this cute idea that begged me to try it, and then that led to something else and another something, and, well, you know!

It started with an ordinary strand of twinkle lights. And ended like this:

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There is no way to capture the ambiance this little garland has created. I tried different lightings and flash settings, tried my phone camera, and my BFF even tried with hers. You just have to take my word for it.

It was a very simple, but somewhat time consuming project. It’s one you can start, put down for a bit and come back to…unless you are impatient like I am. Here’s the step-by-step DIY.

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1. Decide the tone or colors you want to use, gather fabric odds and ends and/or ribbon.

2. Cut fabric into strips. Mine were 5 to 6 inches. You do not need to measure, especially if you are going for the shabby look. The number of strips depends upon the length of your light strand and your personal preference about how you want it to look. This fabric is the only thing I purchased. I liked the color combo to go with the green tones in my dining room. To that I added some green ribbon I had already purchased for another project, some white I had cut off an old sheer curtain, some off white rayon scraps, and a few odds and ends.

3. Stretch the string of lights out on the floor and begin tying the strands of fabric between the lights. I tied all the fabric pictured first, spacing out the color

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Next, I added the ribbon ties, and finally, I added the other tones of white and off white in between those.

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4. Drape your garland any way you wish. I tied mine to the curtain rod using some of the fabric strands.

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These shabby lighted garlands would look great on a mantel, over a door, mixed with greenery, or even on your Christmas tree.

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I’m sorry about the elf, but I sure am enjoying these lights. And, no, I did not put up the tree, but I got a good start on the mantel. When I finish, I’ll share a few tricks you may or may not know about putting together your mantel decor…but I’ll wait until AFTER Thanksgiving Day. Be thankful!

 

DIY Burlap Tableware Pocket

If you are anal a planner like I am, chances are you’ve already started Christmas shopping thinking about the fall holidays. A welcome chill in the air this week prompted a trip to the storage closet to inventory fall decor. I came across these adorable wooden pumpkins I purchased a couple of years ago, and my ADD kicked me right past Halloween into Thanksgiving.

I love Thanksgiving, but it is one of those holidays that I just can’t depend upon. When my dad was alive and my parents lived on the farm, we knew where we would be at Thanksgiving. It often coincided with deer and quail hunting season, and both my brothers and their families joined Saint, me, and our two kids for a big family gathering at the folks’. But for the last sixteen years, as Dad passed away and Mom moved from the farm to a small apartment in the city, kids married and had kids of their own, and in-laws multiplied, our traditions have been hijacked and we sometimes find ourselves wondering how we will celebrate Thanksgiving. Sometimes it’s a Norman Rockwell. Occasionally, it’s a Walton Family celebration, but, occasionally, it is just a handful. No matter, I am determined to give Thanksgiving its due, even if it means this lovely outdoor dinner for two, complete with a smoked wild turkey from Redbud Ridge.

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Worthy of a festive table setting, wouldn’t you think? Uh-huh, I did make it back around to the DIY project!

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Doesn’t this little tableware pocket scream vintage Thanksgiving? For this project you will need:

Natural burlap

Bleached white burlap

A button or brooch

Rubber bands

Scissors

Either a sewing machine or fabric glue.

Directions:

For each pocket, you will need a 15×5 1/2 rectangle of natural burlap. Fold up approximately 5 inches from the bottom to make the pocket. Then run a stitch down both sides. If you want a no-sew project, you can use fabric glue and just glue the sides of the pocket. I ran the seam all the way down each side rather than just along the pocket edge to keep the burlap from fraying too much. Next, fold down about an inch at the top and fray the edges. Press the seam to make the “flap” at the top. This is purely decorative. You could add vintage lace, ric-rac, or anything you like. I chose to leave it plain.

Now, cut a piece of the bleached burlap about 5″x9″. Fray all the edges a bit and gather it in the center like a fan. Cut a rubber band and run one end through the hole (or holes) on the button. Tie the rubber band back together and wrap it around the center of the fabric to secure it. Fan out the ends and tack them together with a needle and thread or fabric glue. Attach the fan to the pocket using your needle or more fabric glue. Tuck in your silverware, and there you have it.

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Cute as a button, don’t you think?