Fall Mantel Decor for Almost Free!!

With Thanksgiving next week, I was looking around and felt I didn’t have enough fall décor (at least for my taste, I love a ton!!). I certainly don’t want to leave my mantel plain for the wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, yet I also don’t want to spend a ton of money with Christmas so soon. While pondering my dilemma, I spotted some cans I had saved from vegetables because my son wanted to make an old-fashioned “telephone.” Perfect. Now I just needed to figure out what to do with them. I have seen many blocks with letters on them spelling out a greeting pertaining to different seasons as well as mason jars doing the same. I thought I’d try it out with tin cans. I had seen the new Thanksgiving items in the dollar section at Target, and I adore the colors they were using this year. Unfortunately they get rid of all fall decorations at the beginning of November and put all of the Christmas decorations out. They were navy, maroon, cream, orange, with a bit of tan thrown in. I need those colors in my life this season! I knew what I wanted, so I got straight to work. I love, love, love how this turned out! Later I’ll post the tutorial for the gorgeous fall “Thankful Tree” that I placed inside the cans. Your family can write what they are thankful for and place on the branches.

This project is so easy, and will only take you about 15 or 20 min plus drying time. I already had all of the materials, but even if you have to buy all the supplies (not including the cans, scissors, Mod Podge, and glue gun) you’d spend around $5! If you’re a big crafter like me, you probably have everything on hand making your project free!  Who doesn’t want that this time of year?! You will need:4 tin cans (I used 2 different sizes). These are free if you wash and remove the labels on cans you use for dinner.

  • Paint- I used acrylic in Steel Blue, but you can really use any color your little heart desires.  I used Craftsmart paint from Michael’s; they are $0.85 if you use your half off coupon.
  • Vinyl to cut letters from, pre-cut letters, or you can use paint to freehand your own letters on the cans.  If you have card stock you can use that.  If you buy paint, $0.85, and cardstock is $2.50 with your coupon.
  • Mod Podge (for sealing, but it isn’t required)
  • Sponge paint brushes
  • A credit card or old hotel key to smooth vinyl down if you’re using it
  • Felt (You can get a pack at Dollar Tree for $1.)
  • Scissors- I use these & they are absolutely amazing. Fiskars Razor Edge Craft Scissors
  • Hot Glue Gun & Glue


  • Two can sizes- 10 oz & 15oz
  • Craftsmart paint from Michael’s & foam sponge

My cans already had the label and adhesive removed from them. You will need to do this before you begin. I was able to just peel off the labels and adhesive fairly easy, but if yours doesn’t, you can use Goo Gone to remove any stubborn stickiness. I’ve also used Dawn to remove labels and adhesive; just remove all you can, wet the area, and wash with Dawn. It should peel right off. I started by painting my cans with acrylic paint in Steel Blue. I only had to do one coat, but that may be different with other types of cans or paint. I chose two 15 oz. cans and two 10 oz. cans. I thought the different heights would give some dimension to the project, and I love how it turned out. Now, while I was patiently waiting for the paint to dry (umm… maybe not so patiently as I kept touching the cans to see if they were dry yet), I used my Cricut Explore Air to cut letters to spell FALL. When the cans were finally, finally dry (really it was only 15 minutes or so but it felt like forever), I used a tape measure to place a tiny dot with a Sharpie at 1.6 inches. I later covered the dot with the bottom edge of my letters, so don’t worry that it’ll show on yours. You could skip measuring and placing the dot, but I just wanted mine to be perfectly even all the way across. Insert joke about me being a perfectionist here, ha. You can just eye the placement of the letters if you don’t mind a little variation in the height; you may even want the visual interest.


Smooth vinyl letters on with a craft spatula or an old credit or key card

Once the letters were all on, I used matte Mod Podge to seal the paint and letters on. With the ridges on the sides of the cans, I felt the sealant was necessary to keep the letters from falling off and keeping the paint from chipping when they’re placed in storage until the next year.


You can arrange your can sizes however you like. I eventually put the two large cans on the ends, small in the middle.

While waiting for my Mod Podge to dry, I cut brown and cream rosettes from felt.  I don’t have a picture of this, but if you’re unsure how to make them, you can follow this great tutorial from Life After Laundry (which calls for using fabric glue, but I just used hot glue). I hot glued the finished rosettes to the two large cans; the F and final L just under the top to the can.  You can add as many as you like, whatever works for your home.

I placed my beautiful, wonderful piece of art on display for all the world to see. I’m not biased or anything, wink, wink!  To finish, I cut several branches from small trees in my yard.  I spray painted them gold, and stuck them into floral foam inside the cans.

This looks great on our mantel until we switch them out for our Christmas decorations. I hope you’ll try this out for your home. Please be sure to share your thoughts and pictures of your project in the comments. I’d love to see how yours turns out! If you have a friend who’d love this, please share this tutorial on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. Also, follow us so you don’t miss out on any posts and tutorials!

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