Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's Happening....

Yes, it's finally happening!  Boxes are being unpacked, decorations are going up and there is glitter everywhere.

 I'm so excited!!!

In this post I want to share how I created a fireplace mantel using a pre-lit artificial wreath, 6 ft artificial garland, mini white lights, ornaments, artificial greens and berries, red ribbon, 2 candle holders and 2 red candles. 

The finished mantel

My hope for this post is to show how easy it is to create a beautiful mantel with a few simple techniques.  Follow along as I share my ideas, tips and tricks so you too may create your very own Christmas mantel this Holiday Season!

Let's begin!
lights on (overhead)

In a previous post I talked about fluffing a tree.  The "fluffing" rule applies to all artificial greenery.  By fluffing I mean opening up all the branches, to their fullest length.  You want to make the most of each and every branch so everything added from this point on will be placed, to give the finished look dimension.  Artificial greenery can get pretty squished in a box from one season to the next.  It's very important to fluff each and every branch of greenery.  This means that your hands should actually touch, every branch.  It will make or break your finished product!!


lights off (overhead)

Once the garland and wreath are in place, I added lights to only the garland as I used a pre-lit wreath.  There are a few things here I would like to mention.  First, notice the size of the wreath?  It's a 36" wreath, because I am placing it on a large brick fireplace, it's very important to keep everything in proportion.  This wreath was purchased at Costco at few years ago at an amazing price but if this is something that isn't in the budget for this year, keep your eyes open for the after Christmas sales, there are some amazing deals to be had.  Christmas decorations evolve and change over time but the base of your decorations like your tree, wreaths and garlands are something you have for years.  If you can get an expensive tree, wreath or garlands for 50% off after Christmas, why wouldn't you?  Theses are things that can be purchased over a few years and during that time, there is no reason why every year your decorations can't look spectacular!

Remember this tree (previous post), it was all from the dollar store!  It's not what you have, it's what you do with what you have.  If it takes a few years to get the things you want, that's OK because the good things in life are worth waiting for!  Let's continue..

I found these greenery picks or stems whatever you want to call them a couple of years ago and had to have them.  What a great find at 50% off after Christmas, I knew they wouldn't last so I grabbed five of them.  

This greenery was going to add a little extra something to my garland on the fireplace. They are nice and full and have a few different kinds of greenery attached. That's great for making the garland look more natural.

I add the five picks of greenery to the garland spacing them out evenly along the mantel.  I'm going to add two candle holders at opposite ends of the mantel as shown in the picture above so I need to make sure there is room for them.  I space the picks accordingly. 


Once the picks where placed, I begin to gently pull branches form the garland up into the branches of picks.  This not only helps to secure the picks in place but it makes it looking like it's part of the original garland and not added in after, as I did. 

You'll see here I'm gently pulling a branch from the garland, up through the pick.  You can see the variety of greens adding great interest.

When looking at this mantel you will notice that the picks that were added don't really have too many lights in them now, don't worry!  When I'm done adding all the other things, I will add an additional set of lights to finish the look.  Doing this also allows me to work the lights through all the decorations.  This is the only time I will add lights after the fact, on any decorating I do.
Here you can visualize where I am going to place my two candle holders. You can see the two dips in the garland on the mantel. It's not really dips per say, it's where I didn't place picks. What that does is allow me room to place the candle holders and also make sure that they'll be seen when the mantel is complete. I won't place the candle holders yet, I will wait until everything else is in place because I don't want to break the glass. I do though, need to know where they are going to allow for the space. So, now you can see how I am building off the original garland, it does add great interest to the final look.

Another after Christmas purchase!  I saw these lovely stems that have glittery leaves and glass berries.  

I grabbed five!  I'm not lying here either, I actually grabbed five.  Those after Christmas sales are torture!  If you've ever been to one you know exactly what I'm talking about.  I was prepared though....after all, I'm an Elf!  If you are out during the Holiday Season and find a store you love,  it's good to make note and talk to the store owner about their after Christmas sales.  You'll want to know when they start, as some stores start reducing prices on stock prior to Christmas and sometimes waiting until after Christmas might be disappointing.  If you really want something, it's worth doing your homework. 

You can see here I start the first stem just slightly left of the bottom of the wreath, if you look carefully you can see the dip in the greenery just right of my hand.  That is where I will place one of the berry stem.  The second berry stem will go on the opposite side of the wreath in the same spot but at the dip in the greenery just left of my hand.

The next stem is going directly below the wreath.  I've carefully bent the stem and it will go into the garland exactly as the stem is bent, end of stem first.  The fourth stem is then added just above the actual mantel and below the other stem I've just added.

Here are the last two stems added just below the wreath.  As I did with the picks, I will gently pull the branches of the garland up and through the newly added stems.  This creates volume and dimension. 

You can see here by gently pulling the original garland branches up through the newly added picks, how each piece added becomes one with the original garland. 

The final stem will be added to the wreath.  By doing this it makes the look continuous.  You want whatever you are using in the garland to flow up into the wreath. 
This make for a perfect finish!

I've added the berry stem

You can see the stem at the top right side of the wreath. 
 I've placed the berry stem there to allow for the additional items being added. 

Next are these magnificent branches.  They consist of a variety of leaves and red berries.  They are wonderful in that when opened, they can spread over 16" wide.  Picture a fan opening....this is what this stem/branch will do.  Any time you can purchase something that you can manipulate to open wider than it's size....go for it!  Not only will it add interest but it fills space and creates dimension all at the same time. 

I will add one stem to each of the ends of the garland.  It will add colour and dimension.  I will also add three more to the middle of the garland one each to the left and right of the wreath and one directly underneath the middle of the wreath.  Remember to gently pull the branches of lights through were possible.

Here you can see I have added a stem to the wreath to tie it all together.  I carefully spread each little branch out spreading the stem nicely and gently pull branches from the wreath up and through the stems to give it a look of one.  You want to have it all look like it is part of the original wreath rather than a pieced look.  This again is created by gently pulling the branches of the wreath up through each addition as you work along. 

I've added 5 poinsettias spaced evenly along the mantel and when doing this you can see how I brought two of them slightly over the edge using the entire mantel to display my decorations.  You will also notice the addition of tear drop sequin ornaments as well.  Four on the mantel and the fifth up in the wreath.  I've also added 5 red glass balls in the same fashion, these are ornaments that I use as well on my tree which creates a complete uniform look in my room.  I'm going to break a bit of a rule here and use 8 poinsettias in total.  I'm using five on the mantel (odd number) and three in my wreath (odd number).  That is a total of 8 poinsettias but because they are making a large statement and combined with the other additions you will only see odd numbers in the look not a combined even number of poinsettias (unless of course you stood there and counted them).  Trust me on this. 

Adding a little more glitter, my sparkly eucalyptus stems.  I've placed 5 of these along the mantel, one each near the end and one each below and on either side of the wreath and one directly under the wreath.  There was one added above on the wreath breaking that odd rule again but as I mentioned before, an odd amount on the mantel and an odd number on the wreath.

Now that I have added all my decorations I have a couple little extra things I like to add every year.  I have two gold birds and a large gold tassel.  These three items will be added with my bows to finish the look.
Notice also how there are little bits of stems and branches sticking out from the garland?  It is important to place your decorations right into your garland amongst the branches.  It adds dimension and depth, I can't stress this enough.

I've attached the large gold tassel to the wreath using the branches of the wreath itself, that is the beauty of artificial greenery.  I then added my bow over top of the tassel and pulled the ends of the tassel through to create the look I wanted. 

Here is a closer look at the decorations on the wreath.
I will be making a video on how to create these beautiful bows. 
I will put the video on my blog to share with everyone!


Once again, the finished mantel.

To add the candle holders I carefully slid the garland forward where I wanted to add the base of the candle holder and bent up a few branches to allow for room.  Placing both candle bases first, I fussed  adjusted them evenly to get them exactly where I wanted them.  Next, I placed the candles on the bases then the glass last.  Don't want to break the glass!

Something else I want to mention.  How you store your Christmas decorations is very important and key to keeping everything looking amazing and in good shape from one year to the next. 
 I will be posting about that after Christmas so watch for it!

Well, if you've made it this far, congratulations and I thank you!  I must admit it was a long post.  I do have a few more ready to go so come back again. 
I hope you have learned something today and found that what you see in stores and magazines is achievable.  Remember, you can create a beautiful look.  If  there is anything you would like help with just send me an e-mail.  I'm happy to share questions and concerns in a post!

Wherever you are in your day, I hope your enjoying it!
Wishing you many wonderful creations!


  1. Wow it looks Beautiful, I too love Christmas and love the Garlands lit over the fire place.
    I must say your Fireplace Mantel looks absolutely Stunning,I cannot wait to see the rest of your Christmas Decorations.
    You have made it so easy to follow with your Step by Step Photographs.
    Many thanks for your Sharing your creative Christmas Ideas and Merry Christmas. HO HO HO X

  2. Oh my, this looks just fabulous. What a stunning focal point to a room.

    Thanks for showing us how.

    Toni xx

  3. TOTALLY brilliant! Rather than an email - can I send you a plane ticket to hop over here and do my Christmas decorating for me? Err, there's the full house clean to be done first of course :) Keep these posts coming, and now I know why you were so quiet! Hugs, Di xxx

  4. It looks luscious Elf woman...what a great post. Now, do you think I can get Mr Dunnit to build me a brick fireplace of an appropriate dimension before christmas....hmmmm....I may improvise, but am inspired!

  5. Oh, Your Decorations are Gorgeous! I Love Christmas so much! Due to my Financial problems there won't be very many Presents under my Tree this year, but that's not what It's all about any way. Thanks for Sharing! Love It! Hope you and your Family have a wonderful Thanksgiving! :0)

  6. You are a real inspiration! I'm going to start my dollar store Christmas tree today - fingers crossed xx

  7. Oh my, just beautiful! Our house is usually *ok*-ly decorated but I may have to make some decorations for the tree now to jazz up the place a little lol thanks for sharing :) x

  8. Wow - Christmas-licious mantelpiece, it looks amazing. You are clever to achieve all that festiveness. Great step by step too. Julia probably will get Mr Dunnit to make her a fireplace, she's like That :D
    Hugs, LLJ xx

  9. wow I just adore all your photos and creations. I love Christmas so much and I dream of having an open fire place and big mantelpiece one day to decorate like this. You are very talented!


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