Christmas mantel with boxwood

Today is my son’s sixteenth birthday.

I’m not really sure how that happened…..

…..especially because I just dropped him off for kindergarten.

And the best?

He’s taking his driving test this morning.

And me?

I’ll be the one sitting in the front seat wearing new yoga pants with a messy bun and a bobby pin trying to act like it’s another day in the neighborhood while white knuckling it and clutching the edge of the seat and inadvertently pressing a non-existent brake on the passengers’ side.

Good times for me and my messy bun.

boxwood and faux wood grain houses

So I spent yesterday afternoon preparing for the arduous driving task ahead by creating a twig and boxwood mantel.

It only took 10 minutes and I finished it off with these tiny faux wood house ornaments that were only $1.87 at WalMart.

When I saw them I couldn’t even.

Look at the little fluffy “puff” of smoke coming out of the chimney.

mantel before

And now here’s 10 minutes well spent.

Start the timer.

I started with the blank mantel.

53 sec to find the stool to climb up so I could add the branch to the top of the mantel.

(I did not count the 23 minutes 12 seconds spent searching in the woods for the perfect branch with Bonzai).

mantel with branch

41 seconds to add the perfect branch.

I hung it on some nails I had up there from other mantel decor, but you could always use removable adhesive hooks if you wanted a less permanent option.

12 seconds to make sure the branch was straight.

boxwood and ribbon

3 minutes and 17 seconds to tie sheer ribbon onto the boxwood spheres.

Some of the spheres came with hooks.

Others, I simply tied the ribbon on the branches.

I used five spheres in a variety of sizes for the display.

boxwood sphere display

4 minutes 23 seconds to tie the boxwood spheres onto the branch at varying heights.

Mix it up.

Place a large one next to a medium one next to a small one.

An odd number of spheres is best for the project.

box wood mantel

And then I had over 30 seconds left.

Almost enough time to find the bag of tiny house ornaments and books and puffs of cotton.

Stack the books.

Add the houses.

Tuck the cotton batting in among the houses.

boxwood sphere mantel

I think this is one of my favorite Christmas mantels.  Not too fussy.  Not too expensive.  Not too stressful.

Just right.

But I almost wish it had taken more than 10 minutes.

I’d so much rather be decorating than side-seat driving.

Maybe I can find a few more projects to keep me busy. 🙂

10 minute decorating ideas


And now here’s some quick and easy Christmas decorating ideas

from some of my favorite friends.

Inspired By Charm/DIY Cookie Cutter Wreath

Miss Mustard Seed/10 Minute Christmas Decorating

Four Generations One Roof/Simple Ornament Idea

Julie Blanner/DIY Christmas Flowers

Dream Green DIY/DIY Doodle Gift Boxes

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Cute! How did I miss those houses in Walmart? They add a sweet touch to the mantel (which is gorgeous, btw). Happy birthday to your son and best of luck on his driving test!

  2. Image for Susan Susan

    Love it! I too was out wandering the countryside looking for the perfect branch. I hung it over my kitchen window. Love the "natural" look!! I have teen drivers as well and they often remind me that I do not have a brake pedal on the passenger side, "so just stop, you look insane", as my son told me the other day!! Hang in there and thanks for your blogs, they make my day!!

  3. Image for Debra W Debra W

    I really love this mantel design. Simplicity at its best. The boxwoods hanging from the branch like that. That is a have to do at my home now. :) The houses are adorable in the woodsy texture that they have. Loving this look. When my daughter was learning to drive, I was gritting my teeth the whole time, white knuckling the seat. Because she kept going to the right, the ditch is on the right. Yikes. She said she could not figure how how to center the car in her lane. Needless to say we made it through it and she can drive anything, anywhere now. :)

  4. Image for Anne Porter Anne Porter

    From whence cometh your boxwood spheres, dear one? Cannot find them anywhere !!!! Look forward to each and every Thistlewood post!!!

  5. Image for Terri Terri

    You truly are the "Rock Star" of décor.... really??? are you telling us you did that in 10 minutes??? "A" mazing Karianne!!! Soooo.. a new driver in the house???? No worries.. pretty soon you will be giving him a list a mile long and he will hand the drivers license back over to YOU...... LOLOLOL :)

  6. Image for Nancy @ Slightly Coastal Nancy @ Slightly Coastal

    I love the simple quality of this and the use of natural elements. Those cute houses? I'm stopping in my Wal-Mart today! Good luck to your son on his driving test. My wish for you? That your messy bun stays intact, your bobby pin doesn't fly out the window, and your brand new yoga pants stay dry. :) Nancy

  7. Image for Leona Leona

    Happy Birthday to your son and well wishes on passing his driving test..........tis only the beginning :) . I spent many nights waiting for my kids to come home at night once they got their license. The right of passage and the joys of being a parent. Your mantle is sweet, but then again, it was done by Karianne.

  8. Image for CC CC

    I would love to know the source of the boxwood spheres! Hoping that my Wally World has the tiny houses! Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Image for Donnamae Donnamae

    How did your son get to be 16 so quickly? Happy Birthday to him! And a driving test? Good luck to both of you! Just get to go through this three more times! Love the mantel...looks great...and so Karianne! ;)

  10. Image for ronda ronda

    Let me know if anyone finds those houses at Walmart and my mom had a boxwood sphere 40 years ago that she hung mistletoe from....I wonder if it is still in the Christmas decor closet..

  11. Image for Yvonne Shafer Yvonne Shafer

    You are amazing! Love the decorations but can't believe you have a 16-year-old son! You look 16, messy bun and all!

  12. Image for Donna Marie Donna Marie

    Hit your knees and pray that he passes then hit them again and pray that he returns every time safe and sound!!!

  13. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    Boxwood spheres are my fave, but MAN they're pricey here... Hoping to find some during the new years clearance sales...

  14. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    Looks great and you didn't even show how nervous you were! You were a calm as a cucumber -- I know you didn't want to make the driver nervous :-( . You're going to have to make up a list of all the projects you want to make -- have them last at least 30 minutes!! Your mantle does look wonderful.

  15. Image for Kris Kris

    I was in Walmart today and I didn't see those cute houses! Maybe cuz I was rushing in to pick up a gift . Love your mantel. You can write a survival book on managing your teenage boy for me so I am prepared when I get to that stage. :)

  16. Image for Jane Jane

    So, so pretty! The little Walmart houses are darling, and I love the touch of the books. Wondering where you found the boxwood. Real or faux? Thank you!! Jane xx

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