Fresh greenery adds a festive touch from your mailbox to the mantel.
Last-Minute Decorating
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn / styling Rose Nguyen

It's the most wonderful time of the year, when fresh greenery adorns everyday items and transforms them into spectacular seasonal displays. But with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, who has time to decorate? Here are two quick and easy arrangements that will make things merry and bright. Plus, they're easy on the budget. So grab your clippers--it's time to decorate!

Spruce-Up By the Curb
Tired of the simple red bow adorning the mailbox? This year, give it the royal treatment with festive elements from the yard. Head out on a scavenger hunt for evergreens and berries.

First, soak a caged block of florist oasis. Secure it to the mailbox with wire. Don't worry about the exposed wires; the greenery will mask them. Add materials such as magnolia, boxwood, aucuba, and branches of evergreen to the florist foam. ( Tip: Check with the local tree lot for discarded branches and tree trimmings to use in arrangements.) For a dramatic effect, place long pieces of silvery elaeagnus in the mix. Next, tuck in holly or nandina berries for a burst of red. Top it all off with a brilliant red bow.

The arrangement will last several weeks outdoors if the florist oasis is kept moist.

Mantel Magic
While the stockings are hung by the fireplace with care, the mantel may look a little bare. Here's a simple solution that uses things you may already have on hand.

Pull out all of your glass candlesticks. Use a variety of styles, and arrange them on the mantel so their heights vary. Fill them with candles of one color; we used red.

Think outside the box. Use small juice or martini glasses as votive holders. Turn them upside down, and place the candle on top. Embellish a few of the candlesticks with greenery. Gather sprigs of berries and secure with florist wire. (Do not leave burning candles unattended.)

This article is from the December 2004 issue of Southern Living.