If you have met me for five minutes, you know that I love a challenge.

Especially when it involves friends and mysteries and boxes and mantels and Christmas decorating your mantel.

That’s why I was so excited when my friend Ashley asked me if I wanted to participate in the Mystery Box Challenge.  She challenged eight bloggers to find a white elephant gift and wrap it up with Christmas cheer and mail it to one of the bloggers on the list.

The bloggers?

me (obvi)

The Handmade Home

Lolly Jane

Craftberry Bush

My Sweet Savannah

Beneath My Heart

Zevy Joy

Nesting With Grace

Brook from Nesting with Grace sent a box to me.

Are you ready for what my mystery box held?

And what I did with it?

Oh, good.

Me, too.

Here’s what was in my box.

Three trees.

A wreath.

And outdoor lights.

(Total mystery box post aside:  The box had me at the trees.)

I wanted to add Christmas cheer to the back door.

You know.

The door that you always forget because you are so worried about decorating the front door.  You add garland to the front door and a wreath and a Christmas mat and greenery until it looks like a magazine.


Except around here no one really uses the front door.

It’s just for show.

We are backdoor people.

And when the backdoor people show up that door?  It’s got muddy rainboots and cans of paint and a ladder and empty boxes.

It’s not cute.

So this year I wanted to try something a little different.

I wanted a door that says welcome.


Like this one.

If you come to the back door (which of course you totally would because we are friends) you would now see this.

The boxes are gone.

The paint cans are moved.

The ladder is in the workshop.

Nothing to see here but a plaid blanket and a wreath and ice skates and trees.

Trees that look like this.

Trees with red ornaments and tiny stitched houses and mini signs.

I took a little liberty with the mantel challenge and created an outdoor mantel with this bookshelf.

Instead of stockings?

I hung ice skates and a red pom pom garland.

These are my skates from when I was little.

I hung the wreath that Brooke sent me on the dutch door.

For color, I added a red bow and bells.

And the best part?

I hear the Christmas everytime I open the door.

These urns are from the farmhouse.

Remember them by the mantel?

Now they sit outside the door with these large over-sized spheres.

This metal bucket is galvanized and ready to backdoor Christmas.

Last year I used it inside, but this year I filled it with garland and placed it next to the mantel.

(total mystery box post aside:  everything in this post is recycled from last year except the greenery and what Brooke sent me in the box.)

The last thing in the box?

The lights?

I hung them from the ceiling next to the back door with some other strands of lights that I already had.

I’m so happy with how the back door turned out.


It’s not hanging its head in Christmas shame anymore.

It’s warm and welcoming and Christmasy and ready for guests.

And hot chocolate.

And laughter.

And seasons greetings.

And smiles that welcome you at the door.

And Christmas carols.

And a golden retriever just waiting to say hello.

Merry Christmas every one.

Want to see more Christmas mantels and Christmas inspiration?

You’ve come to the right place.

Stop by and see what these bloggers did with their mystery boxes.

The Handmade Home

Lolly Jane

Craftberry Bush

My Sweet Savannah

Beneath My Heart

Zevy Joy

Nesting With Grace

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


  1. Image for Terri Terri

    Festive and welcoming! I love Christmas...it's the most wonderful time of the year :) Are you able to you share your source for the bells, Karianne?

    1. Image for Thistle Wood Thistle Wood

      Terri, I bought them from a local shop called Doozie's Corner. They were super inexpensive for bells like that---maybe $20? Here's the link in case they ship: https://dooziescorner.com/ Their phone number is at the bottom of the website! Happy day friend! karianne

  2. Image for Karen Mary Karen Mary

    How fresh and pretty! That red and white just shouts cheer! I hang my childhood skates every holiday season, too. This year they're on the shed door, with plaid ribbon for shoelaces and greenery popping out. Happy Holidays Karianne!

  3. Image for Terri Terri

    I love it !!! It says "Hi.. Merry Chrristmas...come on in.. hot apple cider anyone?" ... why yes . I would love to come in and sit with you... have a chat with you ... enjoy one of your "stories" while I sip on my cider... And snuggle with the Golden of course !!! (Seriously... Soooo welcoming !!!)

  4. Image for Kris Kris

    Sighing in envy. And smiling because I also use my old ice skates every winter as a decoration--my old sled, too (with runners! It never worked well for actual sledding but it makes a great front porch display).

  5. Image for Rachel Rachel

    I am so glad to know that you also decorate with tools and mud boots!! I think I will spend some time decorating our back entry this weekend!

  6. Image for Annie Anderson Annie Anderson

    Karianne I am in awe every time of your talent and creativity! I love how you took your box and made it beautiful there... My favorite part was when you said you can hear Christmas out your door, I LOVE that! Everything you do truly is so stunning and inspiring and I just pinch myself that I get to do this with you all. Wishing you the most Merry Christmas friend, xoxo!

  7. Image for Rhonda Rhonda

    So bright and cheery!! You've inspired me! (I've often wondered why everyone always uses the back door, because it truly is a constant mess! I try to remember that saying "Back door guests are the best!)

  8. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    KariAnne, you pulled it off again, the back door/porch are so Christmasy! It couldn’t be more welcoming!

  9. Image for JANET JANET

    Love it all! I love for you to include your sources for everything. I know that must be difficult sometimes.Janet

  10. Image for Vicki Darnell Vicki Darnell

    So how fun was that to see what each of you sent as well as what each of you did with the contents of your mystery box.? It was a treat to see the creativity and vist the various various blogs.

  11. Image for Sue Sue

    I love to see back door/porch areas decorated for Christmas and yours is great! Buddy? adds the finishing touch.

  12. Image for traci traci

    So fun and welcoming, Karianne! I love it! We can sit out there and drink hot chocolate after we drink hot chocolate at my house! haha! xoxo

  13. Image for Heidi Heidi

    I just talked to a friend about putting fairy lights in grapevine balls and I saw those balls in their urns and thought "red fairy lights"! It looks wonderful as is though...of course! Happy Christmastime!

  14. Image for Dayna Dayna

    We are back door folk as well! This post has truly inspired me to make ours more Christmasy and welcoming today! Can't wait to get home and shake things up a bit! Thanks!!


    KariAnne, I love what you have done at your back door! So nice to see Buddy, too! He just adds to the lovely Christmas décor! Blessings!

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