As the weather gets colder and Christmas approaches, it is time to start thinking about sending out the family Christmas cards and decorating your home for the holidays! Looking for ideas on how to add some holiday spirit to your house but not quite ready to get your Christmas tree? Festive Christmas mantels are a great place to start. Adding some fun DIY decorations to your fireplace will make your living room extra warm and inviting. If you don’t have a fireplace to decorate, don’t worry! You can always get creative and use a shelf in your home in place of a mantel instead (we have more ideas on how to decorate if you don't have a mantel below). While putting together the perfect mantel might seem intimidating, we’ve compiled some ideas and themes that will make the process go as smoothly and effortlessly as possible. Here's a handy list of holiday decorations and elements you can use to create the perfect Christmas mantel:
First things first: Greenery garlands are a Christmas mantel must-have. When choosing a garland for your mantel, you could opt for fresh greenery or faux. Fresh greenery garlands are wonderfully fragrant and will add a crisp, wintry pine scent to your home. However, the needles will eventually drop and will need to be swept up, so it's important to keep that in mind as you're deciding between fresh and faux. Also, a faux garland is easier to manipulate (they're typically made on a wire, which can be bent to drape exactly how you want it) and is more inexpensive considering you can reuse them in years to come. Once you've decided between fresh versus faux greenery garlands, you can figure out the length you'll need based on the size of your mantel, as well as how you'd like it to drape. Choose a shorter length if you want the garland to lay flat across the top of the mantel. If you'd like the garland ends to drape down both sides of the fireplace, you'll need to measure the height of the mantel and choose a length that will give you the drape you'd like. To learn more about choosing the perfect holiday garlands for your home, see our Complete Guide to Christmas Flowers and Greenery.
For a more homespun look, try adding a few strands of felt ball garlands to your Christmas mantel. Cozy and handmade, Minted's felt garlands are made by artisans in Nepal using locally sourced wool. Drape the felt garlands across your mantel for a more minimalist look, or mix them in with greenery garlands for a luxe, layered effect.
If you prefer a more Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic for your holiday mantel, mix in wooden-bead garlands to give your fireplace a more natural, rustic feel. Combine the wooden garlands with fresh eucalyptus garlands (as shown) for a cozy, hygge-inspired look, or hang the garlands on their own for a West Coast-boho vibe.
Photo: via Pinterest
Give your Christmas mantel some extra glow by adding Christmas lights into your decorations. You can thread them through a garland or wreath or simply lay them on top of your mantel to make the whole fireplace shine. Another option for adding lights is to make or buy light-up letters that spell out a holiday message. Lastly, pick up a package of battery-powered LED lights and place the strand in an oversize glass vessel—flip the switch and the vase will be bathed in a warm, inviting glow.
Photo: The White Company
A Christmas mantel can hardly be considered complete without some stockings hanging on the front! You can choose personalized stockings with each family member’s name, fun Christmas patterns like plaid or stripes, or keep it minimal and monochromatic with a solid color. Once you’ve picked out your stockings, attach hooks and hang your stockings above the fireplace.
As with garlands, holiday wreaths can be as decorative or minimalist as you want. You can keep your wreath classic by simply tying a red bow on the top or go all out with a more elaborate look by incorporating other elements such as holly berries, ribbon, bells, or pine cones. If you have the wall space, you could hang multiple wreaths to create a striking, modern look—choose different types of greenery and ribbon colors, but tie the ribbons in a similar way to create a uniform theme.
Candlesticks are a great way to add a touch of elegance and warmth to your holiday mantel. For a varied look, try using candles of different heights and widths which will create a full display. Or, instead of taper candles as shown, you could opt for pillar candles (display them on their own or in hurricane vases). And, of course, battery-powered LED candles are always the safest choice.
Adding ribbon to your mantel is a great way to spruce up plain decorations and add a pop of color. Some common uses for ribbon include: using it to accent a holiday wreath, threading it through garland, tying it around boxes to make decorative presents, and using several strands of ribbon to create a ribbon garland. Depending on how you’ll be using the ribbon, you will likely want to have some options in a variety of colors, textures, and widths. Minted’s collection of luxe ribbon is a great starting point.
Do you have a collection of Christmas nutcrackers? Show them off by displaying them front and center on your holiday mantel. Arrange them all in a neat row, in varying heights, for a uniform look, or place them in clusters at each end of the mantel. Depending on the number of nutcrackers you own, you could even place a few at the base of the fireplace to round out the display. Create a similar look with whatever holiday figurines you collect, like reindeer, ice-skating figurines, snowmen, you name it.
Turn your fireplace mantel into a wintry Christmas village by adding a handful of miniature houses. There are many styles of Christmas houses to choose from this time of the year—aluminum, ceramic, wood, etc. If you're crafty, you could DIY your own Christmas houses made of cardboard, chipboard, or even gingerbread. Place votive candles inside to light up your Christmas village with a warm glow. Pair the houses with miniature Christmas trees and artificial snow to complete your own winter wonderland.
Here's one of our favorite easy holiday hacks that requires minimal effort. Take a grouping of your favorite holiday decorations—miniature Christmas trees, small wrapped presents, colorful ornaments—and display your objects beneath a glass cloche or dome. Add a tuft of cotton stuffing at the bottom to resemble snow and the finished display will resemble a wintry snow globe. You could even do this with family photos—place them beneath the domes on a mound of "snow" and you'll have a beautiful, seasonal family photo display.
For a bright and zingy take on your Christmas mantel, add a dose of citrus fruit, which are in season and plentiful this time of the year. Use heavy florist wire to string together fresh lemons and magnolia leaves to create a garland, and then add additional lemons to your mantel for an extra burst of color. Once the holidays are over, you can bake a lemon meringue pie to make good use of all those lemons!
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
Up for a fun DIY project? Take a look around the house and gather several empty boxes in different sizes (pro tip: jewelry boxes are great to use as the smallest size). Turn the boxes into decorative presents by wrapping them in wrapping paper and tying a bow with a ribbon around them. Go with one color, as shown, for a bold, monochromatic look; or mix and match patterns for a more playful display. Another idea is to use a roll of brown kraft paper and jute twine if you prefer a more simple, pared-down style.
Turn your mantel into a wintry forest by displaying a collection of snow-dusted faux evergreens. The bottle brush trees as seen here have been popular Christmas decorations for decades but more and more shops these days have them stocked as folks have fallen back in love with these petite, bristly conifers. Purchase bottle brush trees in several sizes and arrange them on your mantle in groupings. Add some votive candles throughout to give the display extra warmth and glow.
Photo: Ryan Liebe
If your family is counting down the days until Christmas with an advent calendar, the mantel is the perfect spot to display it. Place the advent calendar front and center so your little ones can easily reach each day's little treat, ornament, or activity idea. If looking for a Christmas crafting idea, Minted has a unique San Francisco advent calendar or New York City advent calendar you can make at home.
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
If you are looking for a centerpiece for your mantel, antlers are a great item to use as a statement piece. You can make the antlers extra festive by hanging ornaments off of them or framing them with a wreath. We think our fawn-print Christmas stockings also pair perfectly with the antler-look. Complete the theme by sending reindeer Christmas cards!
Ornaments don’t have to be limited to just decorations for your Christmas tree! You can incorporate ornaments into your mantel in a variety of ways, from stringing them through garland, hanging them between stockings, displaying them stacked up in a glass jar or vase, or creating an ornament garland by stringing a few favorites on ribbon. Did you know Minted creates fun Christmas card ornaments?
Photo: Mike Garten; Sian Richards
For a great DIY project, gather pine cones on your winter walks (you can also find them at the craft store) and stack them on your Christmas mantel. Or, you could attach the pinecones to floral wire by twisting them in place to create a beautiful and rustic pine cone garland. For an extra-wintry touch, you could paint the pine cones white or dip them in glitter to give them the appearance of shimmering snow.
Spelling out one of your favorite holiday words or phrases creates a nice message around which to focus your mantel. Some options you might consider include: “Be Merry”, “Ho Ho Ho”, “Peace”, “Joy”, and “Noel”. You can display the words on top of your mantel, purchase letters that double as stocking hangers, or use some twine or ribbon to string them together to hang across the front of your fireplace.
Adding winter-inspired art or Christmas art to your mantelpiece is a great way to create a more modern holiday look. Choose seasonal art prints that match your holiday color palette; or, for a more playful aesthetic, you can incorporate holiday-themed drawings done by your children. For a luxe art idea, consider turning your child's drawing into a foil-pressed framed art print.
As the traditional Christmas flower, poinsettias are a great way to add a pop of color and liveliness to your home decor. You can also incorporate other seasonally suitable plants that are to your liking for a more natural look. If you’re decorating your mantel well in advance of Christmas and are worried the flowers might not last, you can always use faux flowers instead and weave them through a garland or a wreath. Find more ideas for Christmas flowers and greenery to incorporate into your home in our Complete Guide to Christmas Flowers and Greenery.
Don't let this year's batch of 2020 holiday cards accumulate on your kitchen table. Instead, create a Christmas-card garland for your mantel and pin them to the garland as they arrive in the mail. Use miniature wooden clothespins to attach them to twine or ribbon, then pin extra ornaments in between the cards for additional flair. Round out your holiday mantel with a framed foil-pressed art print, like the one featured here ("Most Wonderful Time" Alethea and Ruth). Up for a DIY project? Try making these simple Christmas card holders from colorful air-dried clay.
Now, you might be excited to jump into decorating right away, but first, take a moment before you begin to briefly come up with an overall vision for your decorated mantel. This will help to ensure that your mantel has a cohesive, put-together look. Start by choosing a general theme to follow so you don’t end up with clashing decorations or feel overwhelmed by all the potential decorating options. You may also want to pick a particular item you love, such as a wreath or antlers, as the centerpiece, and then select other items to work around it. To get you started, we’ve compiled a list of some Christmas mantel theme ideas that you can use as inspiration.
To perfect the traditional Christmas look, choose decorations that are predominantly red and green. Be sure to include some of the most quintessential mantel decorations, such as garlands, an evergreen wreath, and Christmas stockings. To top it off, you can create a little Christmas scene on the top of the mantel by adding candlelit lanterns to create a warm glow.
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn
A rustic, country-themed Christmas mantel is a great way to make your living room look especially cozy and inviting for the holidays. For a country-themed look, you will generally want to incorporate traditional Christmas colors, while mixing in classic country patterns like checks and plaids. Add wooden touches, like the rough-hewn Christmas trees seen here, as well as vintage and antique pieces (such as the antique wood crate containing the Christmas tree). Choose elements that are handmade or at least look like it, such as mix-and-match stockings or ornaments made by your children.
Photo: Burcu Avsar
If you prefer a more contemporary look, you can opt for white and gold decorations or choose a pop of color that might not be as traditionally associated with Christmas, such as pink or blue. You can weave metallic spherical ornaments through a garland or drape gold lettering with a message such as “Peace” or “Joy” across the front of your mantel. If you have room for a wreath, choose a style in an unexpected material, like feathers or tinted branches. Another option is to use an art piece or mirror as the centerpiece for your mantel. Try to include seasonally inspired depictions of a winter scene, but done with a modern twist, like these metallic, cone-shaped Christmas trees.
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Whether or not you live somewhere that snows, decorating your mantel with a white Christmas theme is an elegant and timeless look. To add some snow-like touches to your home decor, you can incorporate silver or white tinsel, dip pine cones in glue and glitter, or create DIY snowflakes you can weave through a garland. Other options include hanging white stockings, painting white Christmas tree decorations, and adding white candles. If you find that your mantel is looking overly muted with all white decorations, adding a touch of greenery is a great way to bring in some contrast and help liven it up.
To create an ocean-inspired mantel, choose white, blue, and sand-color elements to invoke the warmth of beachy summer days. If you live near the beach, you can collect shells or driftwood and craft them into fun holiday-themed shapes, such as a Christmas tree, ornaments, or little wreaths. Instead of a wreath of greenery, why not give it some nautical flair by hanging an antique life preserver dressed up with a festive bow. Another decorating option is to string together shells on a piece of ribbon or twine and drape it across the front of the mantel. For a fun DIY project, you can make letter cutouts that spell out a Christmas message, coat the letters in glue, and sprinkle sand on top. If you don’t have a beach nearby to collect materials, you can always buy them at your local craft store.
For a sleek, minimal look, avoid overly bold Christmas colors and stick to one color palette instead. Choose simple decorations that keep your mantel understated and clean. One idea for a minimal Christmas mantel is to start with a green garland of leaves, hang stockings in muted tones, and then choose one or two festive items to feature. If you want to make your minimal mantel a little more playful, start by keeping most of your decorations white or gold. Then add a single pop of color, such as a strand of red garland across the front. Remember, less is more!
If your interior design style skews more rustic and farmhouse, incorporate classic, festive Christmas colors along with your favorite antique finds and wooden accents to create a Christmas mantel with some country charm. Here, the weathered shutters add the perfect rustic touch and elegantly frame a snow-flocked wreath. Vintage-inspired accessories—the glowing red lanterns, flour-sack and plaid throw pillows, and the wooden sign—complete the farmhouse look.
Give your mantel a free-spirited, laid-back holiday look by channeling a bohemian-inspired approach. Incorporate style elements to capture that earthy-ethereal feel, like dreamcatchers, macrame, crystals, and plenty of textured, woven textiles. You could take it in a desert-inspired direction with earth tones and accents like steer horns mounted to the wall used to hang star-shaped ornaments. Add textured stockings decorated with ric-rac trim, pom poms, and tassels, as well as bottle brush trees, kitschy tinsel, and a garland of wooden beads.
A colorful, rainbow-inspired display is sure to brighten spirits this holiday season. Dress up your Christmas mantel with oversize ornaments in rainbow hues (these ornaments are actually styrofoam balls that were spray-painted in a gradient of color). Place the ornaments on the fireplace mantel and add a festive banner in matching colors. Wrap gifts (or prop boxes) in patterned wrapping paper that complements the colorful look.
Deck out your holiday mantel with plenty of plaid swag for a traditional-with-a-country-twist look. Plaid stockings in a variety of patterns and colors pop against the lush greenery garland and help create a focal point. You could even weave a spool of plaid-patterned ribbon throughout the garland for extra ooph. Add plaid throw blankets and pillows throughout the living room, and wrap your holiday gifts in plaids and checks to complete the overall theme.
How do you get garland to stay on the mantel?
To securely attach your Christmas garland to your mantel, you will need three things: removable hooks (we like the Command brand), floral wire, and wire cutters. Attach the removable hooks to the top of the mantel (be sure to follow the package instructions). Do not affix the hooks to the "face" of the mantel because there's a good chance the hooks won't hold since garlands can be quite heavy. Place the hooks at least an inch back from the front of the mantel. If you want your garland to have multiple swags on the front of the mantel, then you'll want to add additional hooks as needed to create your desired look. Make sure the hooks are firmly secured before you attach the garland. Find the middle point of your garland and then lay the garland on the mantel and adjust until it looks right to you. Once the garland is in the correct position, secure the garland to the hooks. You can do this by tucking a branch of the garland into the hook, ensuring it is snug and stays in place. You can also wrap a piece of floral wire around the garland and wrap it a few times around the hook for extra security. Give the garland a good fluff and you're done!
How do you decorate a mantel with ribbon?
If you'd like to add ribbon to your Christmas mantel, start by adding a greenery garland (according to the instructions above). Once the garland is in place, take a spool of ribbon and weave the ribbon by wrapping it around the garland. Let some of the ribbon trail down on either side of the mantel. Pay close attention to the ribbon ends to confirm they are symmetrical and hanging evenly. If you have extra ribbon left over, you could tie two bows and use floral wire to attach them at each corner.
How do you decorate a Christmas mantel with a TV above it?
Decorating your mantel with a TV above it can be a little tricky but it can definitely be done. First, keep your decorations low so that you don't block the television. If you're using a garland, be sure that it doesn't creep up too high and obscure the screen. If you're planning to hang stockings, add your stocking holders after you've placed your garland and then hang your stockings. Depending on the length of your mantel, if you have extra mantel space on the left and right of your TV, add taller decorations and embellishments to give the display some height. Candlelit lanterns, faux Christmas trees, and figurines would all look great on both ends of the mantel.
How do you display stockings without a mantel?
There are plenty of ways to hang stockings even if you don't have a fireplace mantel. Here are our favorite ideas:
How do you attach garland to a mantle without nails?
Instead of using nails, use removable hooks (we suggest the Command brand by 3M) to attach your garland in place. For more holiday decorating and celebration ideas, read our comprehensive Holiday Planning Guide.