Pumpkins, black cats, witches and ghosts…combine the fun of a little scare with all the crisp, colorful delights of Fall, and Halloween is the perfect time to start getting festive around the house.
Fall is my absolute favorite season, so when September rolls around we try to help usher the hot Texas summer out by hanging garlands of golden leaves and piling up fat pumpkins. I hang our Fall wreath on the door hoping that will somehow bring the cool weather here a little faster. I know it seems silly, but after weeks and weeks of hundred-degree days, we are ready for the changing of the leaves and all of the fun that signifies the start of the holiday season.
The fireplace mantel is the centerpiece of our living room, and decorating it really sets the tone for the holidays in our home. I like to use a few unexpected, non-traditional items when decorating the mantel for Halloween. It keeps things affordable and gives you a unique and beautiful result.
Here is our mantel from last year.
I had a simple formula for this mantel: Color, Texture, Shine. Yes, I stuck to the well-known rule of arranging everything into a kind of triangle with the peak in the center, as well, but the most important thing to remember for beautiful spookiness is: Color, Texture, Shine.
Color: Pumpkins, leaves, books, strips of tulle, artwork/frame
Texture: Cheesecloth, tulle strips, leaves, raven feathers
Shine: Mirror, mercury glass, candelabra, vase, stars on tulle, foil on books
Pumpkins are mandatory. (This one is ceramic and I bought it at Hobby Lobby several years ago. It comes out every Halloween.) I like the Fall leaves for the color they add, running the length of the mantel and anchoring either end in silver vases (more shine!). The ratty, ripped cheesecloth is classic Halloween, adding fun texture and creepiness. The mirror, mercury glass owl, candelabra and black tulle really bring the magic; their sparkle attracts your eye and offsets all of the dark elements.
Confession: The tulle strips are actually fabric scraps I had leftover from a tutu I made for a friend’s daughter! They get bonus points here because they add color, texture AND shine. The metallic gold stars on the black background are just a bit witchy in combination with the rest of the mantel. The tarnished candelabra gives height to the arrangement and offers the perfect perch for a faux raven. Real and fake books do double duty by raising up smaller objects while encouraging you to come a just little closer, dearie, to have a better look.
The artwork in the center is one of my favorite pieces; it was a free printable! I put it in a black frame I had lying around, removed the glass and called it good.
Nothing I used is too perfect. In fact, some of these things are a bit battered and rough, and that is actually preferable! That poor raven has been in my box of Halloween stuff for YEARS. His feathers are scraggly and he only has one eye. Perfect. Ditto the candelabra. It’s all tarnished and nasty. Excellent! I like it with no candles, but black ones would be fun, too.
The mirror and the owl live on our mantel all year long, but they take on a decidedly dark quality thanks to the cheesecloth draped over them. That cheesecloth has seen a lot of Halloweens at our house, too. Buy a package at your local grocery store, cut holes in it with your scissors, rip and pull and wrinkle it up until it’s marvelously mummy-like. It’s easy and fun! The kids will have a ball helping you out.
The Magic and Poison “books” are actually storage boxes I picked up at Michael’s last year. The gilded one leaning against the artwork reads, “Paris” on the spine, but it went along with the rest perfectly and cost less than $1 so I put it in, too.
Paris can be spooky, right? It’s quite haunted, isn’t it? Sure!
The black leather volume of Edgar Allen Poe is real, and ridiculously right for this arrangement. I’ve had it forever. In it goes.
Draping the tulle and cheesecloth haphazardly and putting the books at odd angles adds more interest and ups the creepy factor.
Scrounge around in your craft supplies, garages, bookshelves, china cabinets and sewing boxes for would-be decorations. You might be surprised at what you can use, and the price is certainly right!
Then you have more money for candy.