Get ready for the Christmas season with our clever tricks to simplify the holidays. Including crafty Christmas wrapping ideas, must-try ideas for hosting guests, and why-didn't-I-think-of-that Christmas shortcuts, our tips for the holiday season are guaranteed to make your life easier.View Slideshow
Dress your mantel in Christmas cheer with these easy and colorful crafts.
Adorn cream-color wool stockings with sparkling trims -- cardboard stars covered in German glass glitter give these classic stockings a perfect vintage feel along with mismatched buttons. Hang with a wide matching ribbon tied in a bow, stitched to the top left corner of the stocking.
Put a little mod on your mantel with these funky snowballs. Poke toothpicks (flat-sided ones work best) into plastic-foam spheres, placing the picks as close together as possible. Cover the entire sphere. Spray-paint the whole sculpture white, then cover it with spray-on snow. Let dry. Use different-size foam balls to create a unique mantel display.
Editor's Tip: Make sure any lit candles are placed at a distance from the flammable snowballs. For safety, extinguish the flames when you leave the room.
Splash your mantel with vibrant color. Start by wrapping three canvases with solid-color wrapping paper and tying them with bright ribbon and bows. Stack small wrapped gifts on the mantel, and add funky ornaments in a large glass vase and throughout the display. Finish the look with garland and stockings.
Group golden star tree toppers to make your mantel shine. If the stars have a tendency to tip, use pea-size balls of clear candleholder wax to hold them upright.
Turn your mantel into a holiday greeting. Trace large wooden letters onto scrapbooking paper. Cut out the shapes and use decoupage medium to adhere the papers to the wooden letters. For a bit of sparkle, apply another thin coat of decoupage medium to the letters and sprinkle with glitter.
Top your mantel with a forest of cranberry trees. Start with plastic-foam cones in varying heights, all with 4-inch-diameter bases. Insert a pearl-head pin through the center of a fresh cranberry and attach to the top of the cone. Pin additional cranberries in a circular pattern, alternating rows of cranberries with silver cord, until the cone is completely covered. Adhere the cording with dots of hot glue or pins. Plan for two bags of cranberries per tree.
Let the snow outside be the inspiration for a mantel awash in whites. All decked out with star-studded mini trees and boughs of faux-snow-covered greenery, the arrangement is complete with a pair of white ice skates.
Top the mantel with a weathered iron gate, and adorn the piece with a wreath of seeded eucalyptus and green hypericum berries.
Make your mantel a focal point by loading it with charming accents. Cover the mantel with pine garland and hurricanes filled with cranberries, ornaments, or candles -- or any combination of festive elements. For added dimension, hang glittered papier-mache stars (available at crafts stores) from the ceiling.
Recall fond memories with photos of holidays past. Overlay a holiday or seasonal photo in front of an everyday framed photo. After the holidays, tuck it beneath the original to swap in front again again next season.
Small trees -- living, cut, or artificial -- make lovely mantel decorations. Place them in pretty pots or baskets lined with plastic. Decorate as desired or leave unadorned for a simple (yet elegant) look.