WHAT’S MY FAVORITE DECEMBER CHORE? Decorating the fireplaces in this 19th century house. For a Victorian look, I cloak the mantels with evergreen boughs and lots of fresh, colorful fruit. The procedure, which could also work for a dining table or a bookcase, goes something like this:
First, grab some evergreen boughs. These can be branches of cedar, pine, hemlock, yew, or long stems of boxwood — whatever you like, or whatever you have in your garden. And if you don’t have access to evergreens, just visit your local florist. He or she will have all kinds of fresh greenery on hand throughout December.
In any event, be sure to candy-coat the works with “Wilt-Pruf.” Wilt-Pruf , an anti-transpirant, will insure the boughs stay fresh and green for weeks.
A pineapple is the ancient symbol for “Welcome.”
No urn for you?
Set the pineapple atop an upside-down bowl.
Place matching candlesticks at each end of the mantel. If you use silver candlesticks, and they are horribly tarnished, like mine, you’ll want to polish them first. Tarnished candlesticks are not welcome in a Victorian setting, even when they are flanking a pineapple.
We now have a nice, balanced arrangement.
But there’s more fun to come!
And by the way, as much as I hate the color orange, I feel it is essential in a mantel display. Orange makes the arrangement “pop.”
A pine cone would make a good substitute for a Bosc pear. We’re merely trying to add a touch of brown to the mantel-picture.
Frankly, grapes steal the show.
Think of Margo Channing as a pineapple, and Eve Harrington as a cluster of grapes.
That last sentence will make no sense to you unless you’ve seen this Bette Davis film.
Oh — I should probably mention that in a cool room (maximum temperature in my house is 65°F), the fruit can last for weeks. If a cluster of grapes or an apple should “turn,” I simply remove them, and replace with them with fresh. And when the show is over, I toss all of the fruit onto my compost pile. There they decompose, and turn into the rich soil that feeds my garden.
In the comments field below, let me know how your own holiday decorations are coming along. Or, just say “howdy.” As always, I love hearing from you.
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