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Decorative mantels capture the spirit of the holidays

During the holidays, the fireplace often serves as a natural gathering spot for family and guests. Festive decorations capturing the joyful spirit of Christmas can make the hearth, the traditional symbol of home, especially welcoming.

Whether a mantel arrangement is centered around an array of glittering crystal or a country still life of cherished family objects, it takes only a few greens and a bit of imagination to suggest the warmth and splendor of the season.

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In gathering natural materials for decoration, one has many types of holiday greens to choose from, including boxwood, ivy, mountain laurel, yew, spruce, and balsam. The key to making greens last indoors is to set them in a bucket of water overnight in the garage or basement before bringing them into the house.

Winterberries, magnolia seedpods, holly, and clusters of orange or yellow berries make cheerful accents among the larger greens. To help prevent the berries from dropping off and damaging rugs or carpeting, dip the clusters of berries in clear liquid floor wax and let it dry. This helps secure the berries to the stems.

Children often take special delight in holiday preparations and may offer ideas of their own. A favorite toy or child-decorated cookies can add a heart-warming touch to a mantel display.

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