For a mantel with extra flair, collect family holiday cards from previous years and clothespin them to a long, slim stick suspended between two vases. Put them in chronological order and, if you want, date the pins.
Looking to update your holiday decor? Get inspiration and festive decorating ideas.
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Hang a Wreath
Try a painted magnolia-leaf wreath this year―and every year.
Pin mittens―either stray ones or pairs your kids have outgrown―to lengths of yarn and display them along a mantel or a bookshelf. You can also hang kids’ striped wool socks or knit caps.
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Take several lengths of heavy-gauge wire, knot one end of each, and string through a clementine and a jingle bell (yes, your hands may get a bit sticky). Twist all the wires into a cluster and secure with a large bow. Hang on a newel post or your front door.
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A Pine Idea
Perfectly at home in a modern apartment or an Adirondack-style log cabin, pinecone candles lend a touch of the forest to any decor.
Try hanging something unexpected on the tree, like a bunch of fragrant cinnamon sticks.
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Even a homemade ornament can pack a decorative punch. Gather a few small sticks from the backyard and trim the ends with sharp scissors. Arrange them into a star shape and tie together with jute or twine.
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Fill pretty glassware with sugar and mini marshmallows, then stuff old-fashioned stick candies inside. A holiday display that looks good enough to eat.
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Just Log On
Here’s one roaring fire that isn’t a huge bother to get started. Simply slip this DVD into your laptop and place the virtual flames on an end table.
Show off some of your most eye-catching ornaments (that might otherwise get lost in your tree). Thread them with different lengths of thin ribbon or string, then tie them to a long, wide grosgrain ribbon wound along the banister.
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Feast for the Eyes
Gather a bunch of doilies in white and silver and tape them together (or secure with a dab of glue) to form a one-of-a-kind table runner. For an inexpensive wintry centerpiece, fill glass vases and large compotes of different heights with pinecones. Spray-paint them gold and silver for extra sparkle, or leave them as nature intended.
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It’s no secret that poinsettias can seem like nature’s equivalent of the fruitcake. But they can also make a sophisticated statement. Just take them out of their foil-lined pots and sink them into pretty vases.
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Set the mood by lighting scented candles and dropping tealights into delicate silver or gold holders or a miniature china house that glows from within.
To buy: Point à la Ligne tealight holders (in silver or gold) in Lace Leaves, $13; and Branch, $10: pointalaligne.fr for stores.
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Put your stamp on a wreath by hanging your surname’s initial in the center. This zinc version glitters in the light, but even a painted cardboard stencil will do.
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Illuminate the Table
Top your holiday table with this illuminating conversation piece.
Turn old holiday cards into place cards. Cut them into star shapes and add tissue-paper cutouts to match; punch a hole, tie with a ribbon, and label accordingly.
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Add a woodsy appeal to your dining-room table with these candles etched to resemble a tree’s grain. In natural and green.
To buy: Six-inch short pillar, $35; eight-inch tall pillar, $12: Branca, 312-787-1017.
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Skirting the Issue
If each member of your family has, oh, four or five scarves, put some of them to work as a tree skirt. Arrange in a pinwheel fashion around the base of the tree and secure with safety pins.
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Stick ’Em Up
Finally, a use for those colorful store-bought bows you’ve saved every year―and a project the kids can do. Take a plain paper plate, cut out the center, and stick bows all over it to create a sweet wreath.
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There’s more to holiday decorating than just the tree and the mantel―consider window ledges and empty bookshelves, too. Place pine boughs in a large vase and hang a handful of ornaments on them. Fill old jars with pistachio nuts, winterberries, or red peppercorns and nestle a tealight on top. Or go for a seashore motif, assembling an array of starfish draped with a length of plain red string.