How to Make a Cardboard Christmas Fireplace

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It can be delightful to have a festive fireplace hung with stockings and dressed up with Christmas ornaments during the holidays. If you don't have a real fireplace, consider making a DIY faux fireplace as a fun craft project. Using cardboard boxes and some basic craft supplies, you can make a whimsical Christmas "fireplace" of any size to fit with your holiday home decor.

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This tutorial includes the basic step-by-step instructions for a simple cardboard fireplace, but you can easily adapt the method and use your own decoration ideas for a fancier version. Of course, you cannot feature real flames in this faux fireplace, but flameless candles, string lights or artistic alternatives can all make your living room feel just as merry and bright.

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Things You'll Need

  • Five identical rectangular cardboard boxes

  • Additional large cardboard boxes or sheets of thick cardboard

  • Pencil

  • Ruler

  • Craft knife

  • Parcel tape

  • Hot glue

  • Masking tape

  • Black and white spray paint

  • Brick-red acrylic paint or paper

Build the cardboard fireplace framework

Use parcel tape to securely close all the flaps and seams on the five identical rectangular boxes. You are going to tape and glue together these five boxes to create the basic structure of your DIY Christmas fireplace, which is a square arch.

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Create the arch shape

With liberal amounts of hot glue, glue two sets of two boxes together at the shorter ends. These will be the sides of the fireplace—let's call them columns. Glue one of the shorter ends of the fifth box to the base of one of these columns to create an "L" shape. Glue the other, shorter end of the fifth box to the base of the other column, which gives you a square "U" shape. Let the glue dry, then turn the structure upside down.

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Reinforce with tape

Decide which side of the fireplace arch will be the front side. Stick parcel tape over every seam between boxes on every side of the arch except for the front side. On the front side, tape over each seam with masking tape. (The parcel tape is to make the joints more secure, while the masking tape on the front gives the seams a nicer finish when you eventually paint the fireplace.)

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Add a back panel

Measure the square gap under the arch—the place where the fire would be if this were a real fireplace. With a ruler and pencil, draw a rectangle on a piece of cardboard (from a sheet or another box) that is a few inches larger on all sides than the gap. Cut the rectangle out with a craft knife or scissors.

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Create a fireplace mantel and base

Measure the top of your faux fireplace. Draw and cut out four rectangles of cardboard that are approximately 10 inches longer and 10 inches wider than the top of the fireplace. Using liberal amounts of hot glue, stack two sets of two cardboard rectangles together. One will be the fireplace mantel, one will be the base.

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Assemble the faux fireplace

Turn the fireplace arch upside-down and apply lots of hot glue to the bottoms of the columns. Press the columns down on the base, making sure the fireplace arch is centered horizontally and flush with the base along the back. Reinforce the joints with parcel tape at the back and sides and masking tape at the front. Repeat this process to glue and tape the mantel to the top of the fireplace arch.

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Spray paint the fireplace

Take your back panel and fireplace outside or to a well-ventilated work space and put down drop cloths or newspaper. Spray paint the back panel black and the fireplace white. Apply several coats of paint, if needed, to get an opaque finish.

Attach the back panel

Use hot glue and parcel tape to attach the black back panel to the rear of the fireplace.

Add a brick pattern to the fireplace

For a classic brick effect around your fireplace, trace a brickwork pattern all over the arch with a pencil and fill in the bricks with brick-red acrylic paint. Alternatively, cut a pile of brick shapes—rectangles with rounded corners—from brick-red colored paper and use glue or double-sided tape to stick them to the fireplace in a brickwork arrangement.

Fireplace decoration ideas

To take the place of a real fire, you could:

  • Arrange flameless candles in the fireplace
  • Fill glass jars or vases with battery-powered string lights
  • Craft faux coals or logs, plus flames, from paper or card stock
  • Hang lightweight tree ornaments on fishing line from the inner roof of the fireplace

To decorate the mantel:

  • Place a piece of plaid or fuzzy white fabric across the mantel
  • Arrange lightweight Christmas ornaments or flameless candles along the top
  • Drape string lights across the mantel
  • Hang small, lightweight stockings from the mantel (Don't fill them with anything heavy!)

Faux fireplace fun!

This faux Christmas fireplace project is a great idea for families that don't have a real fireplace at home. With young-enough children, it's a fun solution to worries about Santa not being able to come down the chimney, and the magic can become even more real when you arrange some presents around the "fireplace" for Christmas Day. Just don't forget to leave some milk and cookies out by your DIY fireplace on Christmas Eve!

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