I just can’t help myself from using animals in my holiday decorating.  Last year, we made faux ceramic animal ornaments.  This year, I was inspired by this gilded elephant by Janell of House of Fifty.  I became mildly obsessed with creating my own version.

Gilded Elephant

I found my little menagerie in the Target dollar spot.  The animals were $3 each.  I grabbed an elephant, giraffe, and lion.  These are way bigger than the smaller plastic animals we used for the ornaments.  My animals seemed a lot more textured than Janell’s, so I opted for acrylic paint over Rub ‘N Buff.  I chose this amazing metallic acrylic paint, called Champagne, by Martha Stewart.  It is much more silver than gold.

Okay, you are probably wondering why I didn’t spray paint these.  Well, I wanted to do this project with my boys and spray paint is not kid-friendly.  Plus, just this week it officially started feeling like winter here, meaning no spray paint until spring.

The boys helped me paint these guys and take them from this:

To this:

Gilded animal holiday decor

Yes, even my 2.5 year old got in on the painting action.  Let’s just say the giraffe’s back got a good coat of paint…over and over again.  My oldest and I tackled the elephant and lion.  We found the cheap kids watercolor paint brushes (with the stiff black bristles) worked best for jabbing the paint into all the nooks and crannies, especially on the lion’s mane.

The finishing touch was the collars.  It’s in moments like these when my inner girly comes out and collars become big, floppy bows.  In my mind I envisioned velvet bows, but I have no velvet ribbon.  Instead, I ripped strips of teal cotton fabric to make my ribbon.  I tied them around each animal and made nice big bows with long tails.  Funny how a cute bow can make a growling lion look adorable.

By ripping the fabric in strips, it gives a slightly frayed edge.  I love the look for this project, because I imagine if a lion really wore a bow it would get a bit tattered.  To rip the fabric, I just cut a half-inch slit, parallel to the selvedge, and rip down.  Remember, the first strip will take two rips, one to rip the selvedge off and then one to create the strip.  You can keep cutting slits and ripping fabric to make more strips.

These guys are putting on a parade atop our mantel.  They look quite festive with our stockings hanging below.

animal holiday decor

I don’t tend to do much mantel decorating other than stockings.  This year it will just be the gilded menagerie and some bells thrown in a small glass vase.

Oh, and this little parade has big plans to head north after the holidays and hang out in my son’s animal theme nursery.

Sharing this project here:
Home Stories A2Z
The Lettered Cottage



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11 Responses to Gilded Menagerie

  1. That’s beautiful. I might copy the elephant for my daughter’s “water for elephants” christmas tree theme. ;)
    Jule from inside9B

    • Jackie says:

      What is a “Water for Elephants” Christmas tree theme? The movie was beautiful, so I can only imagine what your tree looks like!

  2. Did you make your stockings?? They are AMAZING!!

  3. Love this!! Especially the giraffe! He looks so dapper in his little bow.

    And where did you get your stockings? I’m currently on the hunt for the perfect stockings and I’m having a hard time tracking them down. But yours are so fun!

    • Jackie says:

      Thanks for all your sweet comments Megan. I made the stockings last year (look for the link above in the comments to the tutorial).

  4. I love them. I did the same in gold for my daughter’s zoo-themed 3rd bday. The kids loved them. I know your son will love them in his room. I especially love your stocking that I have been eyeing for a year. Yes, I pinned them last year and I do plan on making them one day. Thanks for sharing your mantel. xoxo

  5. Great mantel look. Such original style! I’m especially loving the stockings. (I have a white painted giraffe, myself that hangs out on my mantel for most of the year.)

  6. Grey says:

    These are so cute–the bows make it! I found this on the Christmas Mantel Decorating party.

  7. perfect colors in your mantle, and with the stocking. my stockings don’t match at all, but what can you do, when they’re special pieces, you know?

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