Here is how I created the glass hurricane filler and the garland:
Using dry red kidney beans, northern beans, and black beans, I created red and white stripes on the bottom with a thick, blue stripe at the top. The black beans end up looking navy, not black. You're going to have to trust me on this one, because my pictures aren't very convincing.
My advice if you use beans as a filler: measure the beans using a measuring cup to create even striping. I used one cup for each of the red and white stripes and three cups of black beans for the blue stripe. Experiment, but beware that there is no easy way to separate the colors if you mess up and have to start over. Make sure the bean layers are even before you add the next layer. You could end up wasting a lot of beans and time sorting.
I created the garland by simply tracing and cutting out the stars from felt. I used the medium star from this free printable. I used 10 stars of each color, sewing them together by slightly overlapping the tips of the stars, one after another without breaking the thread. Once I almost got to the edge of one, I lifted the presser foot, stacked the next star on top of the tip of the previous star, put the presser foot down, and kept sewing. This way, they were in one continuous strand. It was quick to sew and something I can use year after year. It is a fun addition to the mantel.
A couple of simple ideas to spruce up your home for the holiday and show your patriotism.
Easier Than I Thought!
Cost: the beans for the hurricanes cost about $12 total, the garland cost about $3 in felt