I have always been a mantel minimalist. To me, their architectural beauty needs little enhancement. Summers often find my mantels adorned with nothing more than a foraged bouquet. During the holidays I might allow for a just
little more indulgence. Meet my wintery wonder, the $10 holiday mantel.
Above: I have to admit, I picked up the $5 seeded eucalyptus branches from my local Whole Foods with the idea of incorporating them into a more lush display, but my minimalist tendencies won out. Holding up one branch, I noted its graceful curving bow and thought, “This would make a lovely garland.” It was simple enough. First, I stripped excess branches to make one long stem. Overlapping the ends slightly, I then lashed about five branches together with floral wire. Finally, I secured the lightweight garland to my mantel with—yes—clear packing tape. Total time: 10 minutes. Above: From there it was easy to style the rest of the mantel piece. The mirror, which weighs about 500 pounds and therefore never moves, maintained its position as the centerpiece. Complementing the silvery eucalyptus leaves, a grouping of sterling candlesticks with beeswax candles served as my requisite “vertical element,” while also adding a bit of holiday bling. Above: To balance out the composition on the opposite end, I stacked a trio of vintage garden books (from my grandmother’s collection) and topped them with a couple of paperwhite bulbs (which account for the remainder of my $10 budget). Above: A pair of midcentury Swedish shot glasses serve as votive holders and provide a bit of glassy glimmer to this side. Above: To complete the overall composition, I filled the hearth with a grouping of foraged branches, which will eventually serve as kindling. Above: A vintage galvanized tub, which has always served as my log holder, received a holiday treatment with the addition of a few festive pinecones, foraged in Maine and California. Above: Of course, no holiday mantel is complete without lights. This season, I opted for the pre-Edison kind, as in candlelight.
Looking for more budget holiday inspiration? Try: