The mantel is a focal point in many homes, especially around the holidays. Decorating the mantel can set the tone for the season and become a beloved family tradition. With some planning and creativity, you can make your mantel shine this holiday season.

Mantel Display Essentials

When decorating your mantel, keep these essentials in mind:

  • Balance – Aim for balance in size, color, and shape with your decorative items. Go for symmetry or an asymmetrical look.
  • Scale – Choose pieces that are proportional to the size of your mantel. Oversized items can overwhelm the space.
  • Elevation – Use risers, boxes, or racks to add height and create an interesting display.
  • Unity – Repeat colors, textures, or themes to create a cohesive look.
  • Personal Touches – Incorporate meaningful items like family photos, children’s artwork, and collected mementos.

Holiday Mantel Themes

Themes are a great way to create a unified, festive look:

Traditional Christmas

Incorporate classic elements like pine garlands, red berries, poinsettias, and white candles for timeless holiday elegance. Finish with Christmas stockings hung with care.

Rustic Charm

Use natural materials like pinecones, magnolia leaves, twine, and unfinished wood. Add touches of red or green for color. Display stacked vintage books and urns.

Winter Wonderland

Conjure up snowy scenes with white and silver accents, glittery snowflakes, snowballs, pine branches, and icicle lights. Incorporate wintry blues and silvers.

Gifts Galore

Wrap boxes like presents and stack them on the mantel or use as risers. Add clusters of shiny ornaments, rolls of ribbon, and bows for an festive gift display.

Mantel Accents

Fill your mantel display with festive accents:

  • Winter greenery – holly, pine, eucalyptus, magnolia
  • Candles – pillar, tealight, votives
  • Lanterns
  • Christmas figurines – nutcrackers, snowmen, angels
  • Wreaths – live, artificial, or handmade
  • Stockings – felt, velvet, knitted with tassels or pom poms
  • Ornaments – colors to match your theme
  • Faux wrapped gifts – stacks of pretty boxes and gift bags
  • Signs – “Joy,” “Noel,” “Peace,” “Merry Christmas”
  • Ribbons and bows
  • Pinecones, apples, cinnamon sticks
  • Tinsel, bells, and other shiny touches

Get creative with less expected items like ornaments in cloches, silver reindeer, lighted garlands, pompom trees, and personalized stockings. The options are endless!

Personalize Your Holiday Mantel

  • Display cherished holiday photos in frames or clip them onto garland.
  • Arrange children’s handmade ornaments and art for a special touch.
  • Include favorite Christmas books and holiday plants like poinsettias.
  • Hang personalized stockings for each family member.
  • Decorate with sentimental ornaments collected over the years.
  • Drape twinkle lights along the mantel and porch railings.
  • Sit special stuffed animals or figurines among the decor.
  • Add a family advent calendar or wreath made from kids’ thumbprints.
  • Display stockings embroidered with family member names in a row.
  • Accent with pinecones gathered on a walk in nearby woods.
  • Include nostalgic decorations handed down from grandparents.
  • Group framed holiday cards from friends and relatives.
  • Hang handwritten signs with favorite holiday quotes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are good items to display on a holiday mantel?

Some great holiday mantel display items include candles, greenery like pine and holly, wreaths, Christmas stockings, wrapped faux gifts, signs with holiday greetings, figurines like nutcrackers or snowmen, bells, shiny ornaments, and personalized touches like photos or children’s artwork.

How do I decorate a mantel on a budget?

Focus on inexpensive natural elements like pinecones, magnolia leaves, and branches. Wrap empty boxes for faux gifts. Make your own signs or art from craft paper. Use battery-operated candles instead of real ones. Dollar stores and craft shops offer affordable holiday accents and DIY supplies.

How can I decorate my mantel without damaging it?

Use removable 3M hooks for hanging garlands, stockings, and signs to avoid damage. Opt for wrap-around holiday garlands instead of hammering nails. Stand framed photos and figures on the mantel rather than taping or gluing. After the holidays, gently remove all decorative hooks and hangers.

What are good holiday mantel ideas for renters?

Great temporary decor ideas include draping festive fabric across the mantel, arranging flowers and greenery in vases, displaying a holiday wreath on a stand, propping wrapped gift boxes, placing battery-operated candles in holders, and using decorative hooks to hang stockings and signs.

Should I decorate my mantel the same way every year?

It’s fun to switch up your mantel decor! Try a new color palette or theme each year. Store your decorations and rotate different ones in and out. Rearrange figurines and art in new displays. While keeping some traditions, add new special touches annually. Varying your mantel look keeps the holidays fresh.


Decorating your mantel for the holidays captures the magic of the season. With thoughtful planning and personal touches, you can create festive displays that make your mantel shine. Incorporate essentials like balance and unity. Dress your mantel up with garlands, wreaths, stockings, figurines, and ornaments in your favorite holiday hues. Sentimental accents like photos, stuffed animals, and handmade crafts add endearing personality. However you choose to deck your mantel this holiday season, may it bring joy and spark cherished memories.