Last updated on December 2nd, 2011
Adorning mantels with evergreens, candles, fruit, and ornaments is a holiday tradition that dates back to the Victorian era. My own mantels are swagged with boxwood, cedar, juniper, and white pine, all thoroughly coated with Wilt-Pruf. Would you like to see how I decorated the boughs? (Hint: click pictures to enlarge.)
For the mirrored mantel in my green and cream parlor (above), a tall, fresh pineapple takes center stage, with green and yellow apples playing secondary roles. Red pomegranates provide bright accent, while clusters of green and red grapes give a feeling of opulence. Silver candlesticks, placed at each end of the mantel, complete the picture.
Over the mantel in the rose and white dining room is an old Dutch painting, presumably called “Still-life with Fruit.” The painting features orange and gold tones, which are echoed on the mantel by Clementines, golden-delicious apples, and tan Bosc and reddish-green Seckel pears. Sprigs of Winterberry provide crimson accent. For the black urns at each end of the mantel, designer Dorothy Raymond made two miniature flower arrangements, using my purple-toned African violets and sprays of cedar and yew.
If you don’t have a fireplace, you can always make a colorful arrangement on the top of a low bookcase, or on a broad windowsill. As an alternative to fruit, you can use sparkling, choice ornaments, and even live houseplants, such as purple, white or blue African violets, pink and white poinsettias, orange kalanchoes or a green, orange, and red Christmas Cherry. You will not go wrong if you weave a gold or burgundy ribbon throughout the boughs. Light candles there in the evening, and you’ll have an exuberant winter portrait.
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