I absolutely LOVE decorating my mantel at the holidays. I wish I had three! Last year, when I was in the Arizona house, I wrote a holiday mantel “how to” and shared pictures of my process in experimenting to create a mantel I could love. This year, new house, new mantel, new ideas – so here we go again.
Terrie’s Mantel Challenges
The Arizona house had a perfect mantel – long and deep enough so I had room to do just about anything I wanted. This mantel is short but exceptionally deep - like REALLY deep, so I want to maximize the layering possibilities but not make it too crowded.
As I bring out the decorations and think something might work, I start setting stuff up there – not sure what will actually get used. I picked these 2 lanterns up on sale last summer and used them on the patio – now I think they’ll work beautifully here.
Made one decision: change trees on the hearth to put some light at the base.
Things are starting to come together – you can see I used a stack of books to raise the reindeer but I don’t like that you can see them. Hmmmm. The ornaments are a warm bronzey color that blends with the warm colors in the wreath.
It’s coming along but feeling a little stark around the candles – and I can still see the stack of books.
I brought in some fresh pine from my walk in the park last weekend. Tucked in behind the candles and around the reindeer, it helps fill all that depth. Plus, it smells SO good!
I ended up with a gold and natural “theme” working from the colors established in the wreath. Then I found the big reindeer and they really help fill those big corners. The stockings and draping greens balance the tree on the opposite side – the color from the stockings is balanced by the Santas in kind of a triangle of color. The twinkling lights and candlelight set off all the elements and now the fireplace rivals the Christmas tree as a focal point!
Other Mantel Ideas
Of course as I browsed through the huge amount of holiday photos online, I collected lots of mantel ideas. Since it’s unlikely you have the same odd mantel as me, maybe one of these will suit your style or mantel shape better.
Colorful, whimsical and easy, this festive mantel is highlighted by hung wrapped packages (actually those cheap artist canvases that are wrapped with your favorite paper).
Use old CDs and glue plastic snowflakes on to create a sparkly garland. A feather boa on the mantel makes a soft base for the glass candlesticks.
A very traditional look with an evergreen garland wrapped in ribbon. The added detail of the bead garland and hanging ornaments adds an extra bit of pizzaz.
Pretty, simple, blue and white – this mantel brings a touch of light to the room and it’s classic simplicity would be easy to duplicate.
The kids could help with this easy garland – felt, a simple mitten pattern, scissors and some glue and you’re ready to go. You could do the really simple version and just make one mitten shape, but gluing two pieces together gives them a little more heft and more like real mittens. Let your kids decorate them if you want, but this simple look with the pinecones is really pretty.
Another simple, almost rustic mantel. A chunky branch, ribbon twined with white lights and the big star make an almost graphic display.
Using the traditional colors of the season and an array of tapers, this display takes advantage of the ceiling height to make a dramatic statement.
Sometimes simple is best. I’ve always liked ivy as an alternate holiday greenery – here it’s been touched with a dash of gold spray paint (or try glitter spray paint – I’ve used them both and they give great sparkle to a display). The simple wreath hung with a ribbon from the mirror edge works with this formal arrangement.
Silver and gold are classic, classy and sparkley so why not pair them for a mantel display. Is it formal? Is it whimsical? I think it’s the best of both.
A lush formal look can be achieved with a restrained color palette and carefully chosen details. Two ribbons were used and the small wreaths are propped in the statuary with brings excellent height to the display.
Another version of a formal mantel – again with 2 ribbons though these contrast rather than blend. All the ornaments hanging and the wild berries sprouting give movement and interest to an otherwise unremarkable mantel display.
This ad from last year has fun mantel ideas. The birch look candles (they were on my wish list here) and votives warm up the cool silver and white theme. I love the garland loosely strung across the mirror.
When decorating your mantel remember to fill the whole vertical space – if you have high ceilings use tall vases or candles and hang something from the ceiling like these stars to help fill the space and complete the display.
Don’t be afraid to mix seasons – these seashells and starfish make an interesting mantel treatment. Did you notice the DIY garland idea? Looks like cutout letters, glittered, then strung on a ribbon. Seems like something you could make with the kids.
Frosty and lush, this wintery mantel treatment would work past the Christmas season since there’s nothing overtly Christmas in the embellishments. I love the addition of the skates as a novelty focal point.
Go Forth and Conquer
You’re ready now. You have a multitude of ideas, you have how-to tips, you have the Christmas spirit…..the only thing left is to actually tackle the mantel. You can make this year’s mantel the best ever! By the way, if you don’t have a mantel, don’t despair – the same ideas work on any table top – a sofa table, an end table, a kitchen countertop…any flat surface! You’re welcome to share questions, problems or successes here with us – comment below or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.