Visit my home, shop at Nell Hill’s or Garrity’s, or thumb through my decorating books, and it won’t take you long to figure out that I’m crazy about lanterns. I use lanterns in my decorating year-round, but during the fall and winter months, they are a key component of my look. Any why not?  Lanterns are unbelievably cute, come in a zillion different styles, are available in just about every price range and can be styled a million different ways. Here are a few of my favorite ideas you can steal for your fall decorating. (Many of the photos are of my home in Atchison, decorated for my Fall Open House this Friday and Saturday. It’s free and fun, and I hope to see you there!)

Brighten Your Porch

Want visitors to feel warmly welcomed this holiday season? Place one or more beefy lanterns next to your front door and fill them with candles. Tie up the top with a seasonal bow holding a few sprigs of greens, and in minutes you’ve given your porch new energy. This black and white lantern is one of my favorites! (Get yours today — they are available at Nell Hill’s Online in three different sizes. In fact, I just started a new section in my online store that features nothing but lanterns! Go there now!)

Spark Up Your Outdoor Walls

Lanterns make ideal outdoor artwork to hang on any surfaces on your home’s exterior, like a garden gate, a garden wall or the wall of a screened porch. I styled this cutie, which brightly greets guests entering my courtyard, with a bit of Halloween ribbon and fall greenery. Keep the lantern up all year and just change the adornment to reflect each new season. The candle tucked inside is battery operated so you don’t need to worry about messy wax ruining the lantern or turning it into a raging inferno. These cheater candles, available with timers and remote controls, are one of the hottest selling items at our online store, Nell Hill’s Online.

Instead of a wreath this fall, consider hanging a wall lantern on your front door. One year for my fall open house I did just that, and it was a huge hit. With that in mind, I worked with one of our manufacturers to redesign one of our most popular lanterns, placing a mirror on the back. I am so excited about the finished product! They look great from the street, sparkling with battery operated candles.

3-D Art

Lanterns belong in your artwork displays inside, too. Mix them into your art groupings just like you would any other piece of art. You won’t believe how adding a three-dimensional piece like a lantern will invigorate a montage. Or if you’re all about symmetry, hang a pair of lanterns on either side of a large mirror or piece of artwork. Or center one over a wall bracket or shelf.

I also like to hang lanterns from windowsill, like it did in the photo above. This pair of twin lanterns is dressed up for the holidays, featuring a bit of silver glitter garland inside the lantern and a sprig of frost covered pine greenery tied to the top with a burlap bow. If you’re hanging lanterns from wall or windows, battery operated candles are a must so you don’t create a fire hazard.

Light Up the Night

When you entertain on cool, crisp, jet black evenings this winter, wow your guests by placing mood lighting on the outside of your windows. It’s so romantic to peer outside and see the twinkle of a candle in a bright lantern.

Dress up Your Table

Looking for a quick but stunning centerpiece for your holiday table this year? Place a row of three or more lanterns down the center of the table. Stop there, or take it one step further by filling in the base of each lantern with a seasonal touch, like acorns for your Thanksgiving table or cranberries for your holiday table. Want the display to be more lush and full? Loosely twist seasonal garland around the lanterns, honeysuckle vine or faux berries for Thanksgiving and prettier-than-real pine garland for the holidays.

Brighten a Display

When you’re decorating your home for the fall and winter seasons, be sure to include a lantern or two in your displays. Lanterns are perfect on fireplace mantels, especially when they are holding a twinkling battery operated candle. With all the shapes and sizes of lanterns available today, you’re sure to find one to fit the width of your mantel, even if it’s super skinny.

One of the things I like most about lanterns is they are like stages, ready to be dressed up myriad ways to reflect your mood or the season. The lantern in the photo above was simple to trick up for fall. We just inserted two inexpensive white ceramic vases holding flowers.

For a different look, dress the lantern up with a small urn holding a pumpkin, as in the snapshot above. Or, try an interesting figurine, like a crumbly garden statue.

Next Week … Come learn about another of my favorite decorating work-horses, white pottery, and how you can use these adaptable and inexpensive pieces to perk up your home for fall.

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25 Responses to “Light Up the Season with Lanterns”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Mary Carol, I so love your lanterns! It is so inviting and elegant. I am praying that I can go this Friday to your home.
    Trying to conquer my fears! Lisa M Fernandez

  2. maureen Says:

    WIsh I could go to your Fall open house…I’m too far away! By any chance do you video the fall tour? Would love to see some footage on your website. I hope it’s a huge success!

  3. Marcia Lindsey Says:

    After seeing your different lanterns I can’t wait to get started.
    we are planning to come to your open house on Friday, but what is your address? How do we fine your home? LOVE YOUR WEBSITE

  4. Jean Bowers Says:

    What a great idea to have a video tour for those of us too far away to attend your Fall Open House. Please give this some consideration. I would love that! Jean

  5. Lisa Says:

    Mary Carol, and to the sweet ladies who commented on my fear of flying and possible availability to attend Mary Carol’s open house. Thank you for your words of wisdom and support. Thanks to my selfless husband, and I know this might sound crazy, he booked us the flight leaving friday morning and returning friday evening. (I take care of my mom and was also worrying aside from my terror of flying, leaving her overnight, even though my sons are great and are staying with her) Were thinking it will be such a quick trip I might not have time to freak out! Hee Hee.
    I am so nervous but at the same time I’m so excited about seeing Mary Carol’s beautiful home in person and shopping at her stores. I just made her lanterns for my home. http://www.leeshideaway.blogspot.com Feel free to check them out. So ladies say a prayer for me Friday morning so that I may be calm to fly out of Philadelphia and hopefully I will see you there.
    Can’t wait! Lisa M Fernandez Newtown, PA

  6. Pat Says:

    Love, Love lanterns. I have always used them in my decorating, both inside and out. When they get a little rusty, all the better, or I sometimes repaint them. I use them on my hearth to contain candles a little better. I love them in my gazebo. Table centerpieces become richer in layers with lanterns.
    Thanks for your wonderful pictures.

  7. Brenda Gray Says:

    Please, please share fall openhouse pics/video with those of us who can’t be there. Love the lanterns, and in fact, love anything you do !!

  8. Mary Says:

    Love the lanterns. They add such a warm, homey atmosphere.

    Also a heads up for all you gals who saw the wonderful green pots in all kinds of great shapes and sizes. On the blog it showed them used in a threesome with different yellow flowers in each pot. Loved the look and ran out to buy them. When I got them home and tried the look I learned, to my dismay, that they do not hold water! So unless you plan to use them just for display or with fake flowers, you might go another route.

  9. Betsy Woods Says:

    Love it – new ways to use the 4 lanterns I bought at you Atchison store. I so miss shopping there and at Dieboldt’s and at your huge European site down the block…. Thank you.

  10. NovemberBride Says:

    Love this blog! I visited the shops last fall and had a ball.

    @Mary…a possible solution that I’ve used before is to put flowers in a Mason jar then place into the wonderful green pots. Or if using plants, such as mums, set potted plant into a plastic container re: Cool Whip carton, cottage cheese carton or ice cream pail. Then you can place into pots confident that watering them won’t be a problem!

  11. patti g Says:

    Word to the wise – Christmas, Birthday, Anniversary all cometh earlieth for thou who art wisesth to goeth to this open house – and goeth with greateth walking shoes, a charge card, and have it senteth hometh. If you rideth on an airplane, espeically. Love you MCG!! your Houston friend.

  12. pat pennington Says:

    Mary Carol, Love the look of lanterns. The twinkeling lights are like a dream. Gene and I will see you Saturday from Omaha. I loved Lee’s comments and have said a prayer for her aboutr her fear of flying. I wish I could be there to meet her. I am so excited for her to see your shops and your home. I remember the first time I came to Atchinson many years ago and I just loved it, and I still do. So if Lee is reading this,, Have a wonderful time Lee. Pat Pennington

  13. Kathy Says:

    Lee, try an ipod with music or a book. You can close your eyes and go to wherever – also holding your husband’s hand helps tremendously. Good luck and have fun!
    It is a beautiful place.

  14. Glenna Batchelder Says:

    Hi Lisa!!!
    What a wonderfull blog and beautiful sunsets!!!You are in for a day filled with energy and ideas!!! I suffered from fear of flying and until my daughter moved to Florida I too was grounded!!! It has been 10 years since that time and a whole new world has opened that includes oceans and sunsets at Anna Maria Island Florida. Being land locked in Kansas, water gives a sense of peace and contentment. Sit by the one you love, hold hands and know that you too will have new wonderfull experiences that you can add to an already amazing life!!!See you at the open house!!!

  15. Mary Carol Says:

    Marcia–If you will just head to the stores in Atchison, buses will pick you up and take you back and forth from the stores (Atchison only) to my home. Can’t wait to see you! For more information on the stores, just go to our website– http://www.nellhills.com and click on ‘Locations’

  16. Mary Carol Says:

    Lisa–Can hardly wait to see you—have a great trip!

  17. Pat Says:

    What wonderful creative ideas for lanterns! I recently purchased four for my front porch. The wind is never ending on my side of the Praire, so I’ve purchased river rock to place in the bottoms to prevent glass breakage.
    Battery candles have also been purchased, for safe usuage. Thank you for sharing your inspiring photos and thoughts with us!
    Pat (On Crooked Creek)

  18. Martha Says:

    Mary Carol, love, love the lanterns. They are very popular throughout Virginia-especially in Williamsburg. I have all of your books, and I always look forward to opening your emails. I wish I could attend your open house, but I live too far. Thanks for all your great ideas. Martha -Virginia Beach

  19. pat pennington Says:

    Are not women just wonderful to one another. So thoughtful. And love all their kind words. Go on celebrate how good you are to other women that you have not met but are willing to support. God bless you all. Have a beautiful day.

  20. Terry A. Says:

    I’m glad to see other people are going out of their way to attend this Open House! I think my husband thinks we are a bit crazy to drive there from Minnesota, but we’re leaving in a couple of hours to be there for Saturday’s tour. :) It’ll be my first tour of your home, and I can’t wait!

  21. Cynthia Says:

    Love the lanterns and the bazillion ways to decorate the inside. What I also love in this blog are the ideas for decorating the tops and around them. Love how you have them hanging inside your windows. You’re a genius, Mary Carol.

  22. Lisa Says:

    If anyone who didn’t get to go to Mary Carol’s home would like to see photos, I blogged about it on my blog. http://www.leeshideaway.blogspot.com

  23. michele Says:

    Thank you Mary Carol for opening your home to us. We had a lovely time Saturday. The staff in your home and at each of your stores in Atchison were warm and inviting maintaining smiles no matter how busy it was.

    What a lovely day!

  24. Janelle Fennel Says:

    I have flameless candles from your store (LOVE your store by the way!) I do not know how to set the timer….. can you help? I live in San Diego, but every time I am in KC I loe to shop at Nells Hill!
    916-730-5451 janellefennel@gmail.com

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