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I {heart} decorating for the holidays!  So much glitter and shiny stuff and pretty colors and it’s just my lovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvve language.

This year is a little different for us as our house is for sale. And just whatever about that.  Lol.  So, I’ve had to scale down my decor and “vanilla-ize” everything.  But I still tried to add a little glitz to my fireplace anyway and at night….it glows.

I know that holiday decorating just flat out stresses some people out.  And….this year Thanksgiving and Christmas are so close together that it just doesn’t seem like there are enough hours in the day, does there?  If you are freaking out that time is running out, I always suggest people just focus on a few areas of their house….their front door /entry area  (which everyone comes to) and their fireplace if they have one (such a nostalgic icon for Christmas). And, I want to give you some of my BEST tips for decorating your mantle.

Every mantel is different. A different height. A different width. A different depth. A different thing over them. Some have stoops/hearths and some don’t. There are just so many options and possibilities that sometimes I find my clients don’t decorate their mantels because they are overwhelmed and not sure where to start? Or, they just can’t figure out what to put up there?

Let me bring you in on a little trade secret: there is no “right” or “perfect or “proper” way to decorate a mantle. It’s a great place to show off your own style. And, if YOU love it, then it IS right and perfect!

Here are a few things to consider when planning the decorations for your mantel for the holidays or for any time of year.

  • Heights: Varying the height of the things you put on the mantel creates a ton of drama. Be sure not everything on your mantel is the same height. You need a few tall things and a few medium and short as well. Do not think that you HAVE to put one big thing right in the middle of the mantle. You could put it slightly off to the side for more interest. Or, put 2 big things on each end of the mantel and put something medium sized in the middle. There is no rule…. just keep shuffling things around until it seems “easy on the eyes”. The #1 mistake I see in decorating is that people use things that are way too small in their décor. So, don’t use a bunch of knick knacks, use some pieces with “weight” to them! Think big and chunky! (My metal can is chunky.  My candlesticks of varying heights are chunky.  My thighs are ………wait.  Different blog post.)


  •  Layering: imagine in your mind how a professional photographer “layers” people for family pictures. You know how the photographer puts some people in front of others and turns them a bit and shuffles them around so that you can still see everything but yet they are overlapping? We use the same concept in decorating….put a few things behind and in front of one another. Layering adds drama!  ( I layered the logs inspired by and on my Pinterest board here so you can find and repin her project.)


  • Color: monochromatic color schemes on mantels are g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s! They just scream of sophistication. An all-white mantel decoration for example is absolutely stunning. Or you could do a more “vintage” looking mantle by using burlap and wood and earthy tones and textures. On the flip side of that, I also love using color in my holiday décor! But to keep your mantel from looking chaotic, use only one strong color. So maybe all red (the strong color) and silver (a neutral). But if you have red and green and gold and white and blue and etc….. it tends to get too busy and won’t give you that “put together”, professional feel. (I kept mine burlap (a natural) and red this year)


  • Textures: Work on using several textures for interest on your mantel also. May a wood sign with a soft pair of angel wings next to a boxwood wreath. See how that involves many textures that are different to the eyes and touch in that arrangement? (I used burlap and glitter and metal )


  • Hearth: Don’t forget to decorate the hearth or the floor in front of your fireplace. This is a great place for a vintage basket with blankets (keep them away from the fire of course) or a great arranged pile of firewood. On my hearth I have a grouping of 7 (because odd numbers seem to always be more appealing in décor) candlesticks. I love it!


  • Insert: If your fireplace doesn’t work or you never use it….. Decorate it! Fill it with wood. Or books. Or a reindeer covered in glitter (everything is better with glitter).


  • Hangings: I love to hang a “Noel, Noel” banner on my mantle (you can see it on my blog or Pinterest page).  Last year I had it hanging on the underside of the mantel.  This year, I hung it up high.  I screw it up with hooks. But, I’ve also been known to use push pins or a nail gun to adhere things to a mantle. No one will ever see it! You can also hang your Christmas stockings which of course is very traditional and always lovely!


  • Mirror: Do you have a mirror over your mantle? I do. But for the past few years I have propped a wooden garden gate over it because my mirror is reflecting my ceiling fan in the room (I took said garden gate off the mantel for the house showing business tho.  Ug.  I loved that thing. ) And ug… no one wants to see a ceiling fan! So, if you have a mirror, don’t be afraid to cover it up. Or, use one of those wreath hanging suction cups from home improvement stores to hang something from it. Adding “decoration” to a mirror is a super fun decorating tip!


Just a quick word of caution cuz’ ain’t nobody got time for a fire: Please be sure that HOWEVER you decorate that you are careful about the potential fire hazards if you use your fireplace. Move things away and take things down if you are lighting up. You will thank me for it.

Also just a quick note to make you feel super smart:   The writing of this article prompted me to try hard to determine if the correct spelling was “mantel” or “mantle”? Rather than go to a thesaurus, I went to my Facebook fans who all educated me that a “mantle” is the Earth’s crust and also a women’s shawl and a biblical responsibility. A “mantel” is what’s over your fireplace. Ha! Now we all know!

So, if you are still lacking mantel inspiration, the internet is just a click away. Go to Pinterest and search “Christmas mantels” and you will be lost for hours in pictures upon pictures of Christmas goodness.  I have a whole “Winter & Christmas” board that you can follow here.

Whatever you do, just don’t ignore your mantel because you are overwhelmed by it. And don’t settle for an “underwhelming” décor up there either. Mess with it. Try new things. It’s a small area….be creative! And try something different this year. You may be glad you did!

Happy decorating!


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One Comment

  • Shelley says:

    Thanks for all the great tips! I have a unique problem since I have a wood stove in the corner with a 90 degree corner mantel, and there is a stove pipe going up the middle so it blocks the view a bit. Any ideas for this kind of mantel?

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