Christmas mantel decor – 30 ways to to create a festive fireplace

Give your mantlepiece a refresh with these inspiring Christmas decorating ideas
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  • Practically purpose-built for festive dressings, mantlepieces are the perfect spot to get creative this December. With fireplaces often the focal point of living rooms, Christmas mantel decor has the opportunity to take centre stage over the season.

    Whatever Christmas ideas for decorating are running through your mind, there’s sure to be a way to design your mantel to fit in your scheme.

    There are a few considerations to bear in mind when deciding how to style your mantelpiece, one of which being the mantle itself. ‘When dressing for Christmas, it’s important to consider the style of your mantel,’ advises Reef Pearson from Radiance Fireplaces.

    ‘Is your mantel traditional or modern?,’ continues Reef. ‘If your fireplace has a more modern look, it may be difficult to accurately capture a rustic or vintage style with your decoration so you’ll need to be aware of this when shopping or creating.’

    Christmas mantel decor ideas

    From traditional stockings hung by the fire, luscious garlands draped along the mantlepiece, to decorating with fairy lights and candles, we’ve selected the very best Christmas mantel decor ideas.

    1. Layer with baubles

    Fir garland with hanging baubles and gold star beside Christmas tree

    Image credit: Habitat

    ‘The popular mantelscaping trend offers a great excuse to get experimental with decorating,’ says Abi Wilson, Celebrations Buying Manager at Habitat. ‘Fasten evergreen foliage to the mantel from which you can hang decorations and baubles. Stagger the hanging heights and mix matte and shiny finishes to craft a considered yet eclectic festive look.’

    When choosing the baubles, link to your Christmas living room decor – perhaps even using the same decorations hanging from the tree for full cohesion.

    2. Go au natural

    Neutral country living room with large floral display above fireplace

    Image credit: Future PLC

    For a truly naturalistic approach to dressing your mantelpiece, there’s nothing better than a wild and free blooming bouquet.
    Despite looking incredibly professional, it’s actually easier than you think to achieve this type of design, so make sure to work some time into your Christmas countdown.

    Use a soaked oasis to layer in fresh foliage, placing the shorter stems at the centre, and the longer ones at each side to create the ‘bloom’ feel, but don’t be too precious – a few longer pieces towards the middle will only add to the natural vibe. Go easy on adding flowers, as you won’t need many to make an effect.

    Finally, finish with dried flowers and grasses for added textures. Spritz every few days (or daily, if above a lit fire), and replace sprig by sprig as they dry out.

    3. Choose a white and bright scheme

    Mantlepiece with white orchid, poinsettia and fairy lights

    Image credit: Marks & Spencer

    Christmas mantel decor is more often than not designed in the classic festive colour schemes of red and green. For a more fresh and contemporary approach, look to crisp and clean whites instead.

    White poinsettia, mistletoe, white winterberries and faux garlands with a frosted effect all layer together wonderfully to create a bright and modern display. To keep the design popping come the evening, it’s key to add in the best Christmas lights you have – the restrained palette may otherwise get lost as natural light fades from the space.

    4. Look to nature for texture

    Mantlepiece decorated with garland, feathers and wicker moon and topped with dried floral wreath

    Image credit: Dunelm

    When decorating the mantel sitting within rustic Christmas decor, turn to natural inspiration to add texture and depth.

    Feathers and pampas grass can be woven in – or used instead of – a garland, to give both that country edge and a wonderfully soft texture. Play with this theme by adding in more variety, perhaps through seed heads, dried flowers and acorns. Think about all the varying textures you might find on a rural walk and integrate into the mantel decor to achieve a fully dimensional look.

    5. Mix candlesticks with tea lights

    christmas mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Candles are one of the simplest and most effective Christmas decorations. Mantelpieces are the perfect place for them as they won’t be knocked over by excited kids (and parents). Create a varied display with candle sticks in a vibrant blue and tea lights in complimentary gold holders, they’ll look as pretty during the day as they do lit up in the evening.

    6. Make understated feel more statement

    Pink living room dressed for christmas

    Image credit: Joanna Henderson

    Stick to a muted pastel pink colour scheme to match the mantelpiece to the tree, and the rest of the decor. A cohesive colour scheme can help to make a seasonal statement without allowing it to overpower the rest of the room. The natural forest green creates the perfect complimentary accent colour to sit along on-trend dusty pink to make a style statement without having to try too hard. Warm lights are best to add a soft glow to garlands, wreaths and the tree.

    7. Add height with plants

    Fireplace with mirror, plant, candles and hanging striped stockings

    Image credit: Annie Sloan

    As with dressing a table, playing with height is an effective way to make a statement on your festive mantlepiece. Typically, this is achieved through tapered candles, or a pot of poinsettia.

    For a unique and budget Christmas decorating idea, place one of your existing indoor potted plants towards one end of your mantle. Any type will do, so long as the pot and sauce fit comfortably – and safely – on the shelf.

    Refrain from looking to symmetry and adding one at the other end, as this will make the area seem too crowded and chaotic.
    For an extra festive touch, you could always wind a length of wired fairy lights around the plant.

    8. Be bold with colour choices

    Christmas living room with white tree and colourful decorations with decorated mantel

    Image. credit: Future PLC/ Jamie Mason

    Make the mantel pop with bright accent colours. One trend that appears year after year is the colourful, child-friendly decorating scheme with a riot of bright colours captivate. Use these striking colours to adorn your mantel with striking hues.

    9. Keep it simple

    Black fireplace with in sign above and baubles hanging

    Image credit: Next

    String a simple row of delicate baubles underside the mantel to make an understated style statement. In this case the homeowner have been daring enough with decorating choices, with striking black walls. But this idea is ideal for any Christmas decorating scheme and any style of fireplace. Simply thread a row of baubles along a think line of twine and hang below the mantel.

    10. Delight with dried fruits and berries

    Christmas wreath above mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    Hang an oversized wreath full of berries and dried fruit above the fireplace to add instant wow. You can buy ready made, or dried out your own foraged finds to add to an existing fir tree wrath.

    Half wreaths are the newest way of doing things, making the adorning foliage feel more delicate, and yet more impactful. Plus if you are trying your hand at crafting a homemade wreath, only filling half helps to keep costs down.

    11. Furnish with foraged foliage and paper

    Christmas mantlepiece with foliage and decorations

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Max Attenborough

    Keep the costs low, but the impact big! Do this simply with seasonal stems and branches sourced form the garden to welcome a touch of greenery indoors. Add the the perfect finishing touches with beautifully crafted paper decorations, from honeycomb bells to statement stars. The mix of natural materials will lend itself to the handmade vibe of the nostalgic Christmas tree trend.

    12. Anchor with the alcoves

    Duck egg living room with Christmas decorations

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young

    Use the surrounding space to balance the decorations on the mantelpiece. If you’re lucky enough to have alcove shelves either side it’s ideal to add simple decorative touches to tie in the focal Christmas decorations – to stop them jarring with the rest of the room. You don’t need to go OTT with the scheme either, it’s incredible what a difference even a few simple lights and hints of foliage can make.

    13. Fill a fireplace with fairy lights

    Fireplace with fairy lights in lanterns

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    Illuminate an empty or unused fireplace by filling the space with fairy lights. Do so with the help of assorted lanterns, at staggered heights, all filled with simple strings of LED battery operated lights.

    14. Set the scene with a simple bouquet

    Flowers on the mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dan Duchars

    For this month make simple changes to where you place the flowers in your living room. By simply moving them onto the mantelpiece you’ll be helping to set the scene for the new focal point for Christmas decorating.

    A simple seasonal bouquet is easy to tend to, simpler than a real garland dressing the length of the mantel. You can change the water of a bouquet in a vase and replace any stems as and when it’s needed. Making a bouquet a simpler solution, but by no means less statement.

    15. Captivate with cascading branches

    christmas mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC

    To make the most of a subtle earthy room, ensure that you stick to natural foliage. Go foraging for (or simply buy!) ferns, pinecones and pieces of evergreen branches to drape over the mantelpiece.

    Hang strands of foliage at varying heights from the mantelpiece. Give them a quick spray with some artificial snow to give them a frosted look as a finishing touch.

    16. Spell out a festive message

    Christmas mantel decor with gold JOY letters

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

    Big, brash details are what modern glamour is all about. For festive flamboyance build your own garland by bulking out an artificial one with gold-sprayed foliage and a mix of boldly coloured baubles. Gold letters spelling out a seasonal word or message cap things off.

    17. Fill an empty fireplace with presents

    Christmas mantelpiece ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Create a holiday focal point by filling an empty hearth with a stack of beautifully gift-wrapped packages in co-ordinating foils and ribbons, topped with baubles and handmade gift tags. Keep the mantel itself simple with a row of coloured glass candle holders and mini tea lights. Hang a few of your favourite cards from a length of satin ribbon and finish off with a garland of greenery above.

    18. Give your mantle a homemade touch

    Christmas fireplace with cream log burner

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain

    Festoon the room with homemade decorations, using the mantel as the festive focal point for a truly cosy and welcoming feel.

    Arrange Christmas cards like a garland from your mantlepiece, either draped over ribbon or twine, or clipped on with tiny clothes pegs. Another option is to use this space to display your alternative advent calendar.

    19. Go glam with gold leaf

    Blue living room with Christmas tree beside fireplace

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    ‘While csarlet and gold designs will complement the greenery to give it the room a “Christmas in the countryside” feel,’ notes Abi Wilson, Celebrations Buying Manager at Habitat, ‘Or bring a more glamorous tone with jewel shades of emerald, indigo and fuchsia.”

    Opt for an opulent gold and blue scheme, with a variety of golden candle holders and a gold leaf garland adorning your mantelpiece. Continue the colour scheme to your Christmas tree and gift wrap for a particularly fabulous look.

    20. Hang traditional stockings above the fire

    Christmas mantelpiece with hanging stockings and ivy garland

    Traditional Christmas decorating ideas like hanging a pair of stockings above the fire add a wonderful sense of nostalgia to the season.

    Go all in on this theme by sticking to classically Christmas-inspired colourways of red and green, and layer in freshly cut ivy for an extra dose of good old-fashioned festive decor.

    21. Create a magical forest scene

    Create a magical forest scene

    Image credit: Future PLC/ James Merrell

    Start with multiple layers of paper pine trees and add sparkling silver stars and frosty white foliage. Create a decadent display of candles and tea lights for the warmest and cosiest of mantelpiece displays.

    22. Keep the look minimal

    Christmas mantelpiece

    Image credit: GAP Interiors/Dan Duchars

    If you’re not into glitzy Christmas decorations, there’s nothing wrong with keeping it lowkey. There’s something classic and Scandi about this minimalist mantelpiece, with a simple wooden star and sprig of mistletoe.

    23. Hang a Christmas wreath

    Christmas mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Sussie Bell

    Keep your mantelpiece simple and elegant with an array of elegant glass and silver candle holders, and make a beautiful wreath hanging in front of a mirror the focal point of your mantelpiece display.

    24. Fill the hearth with pillar candles

    Christmas mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Jeremy Phillips

    For a rustic fire-place with a wood-burning stove like this, a cluster of pillar candles and tarnished silver candle holders will add to the cosy glow from the fire. To keep the focus on the hearth keep decoration on the mantlepiece simple. The two wooden reindeer match the wooden mantelpiece perfectly and add a touch of Christmas cheer without being overpowering.  Tie the fireplace in with the Christmas tree by draping ivy and fairy lights on the mirror above the fireplace.

    25. Create a woodland-inspired scheme

    Christmas mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

    Opt for the natural textures of winter with a dainty pine garland and a heart-shaped pine cone wreath on the mantelpiece for an elegant, woodland-inspired scheme. White and silver reindeer ornaments, cosy faux-fur throws and blankets and a wolf-print cushion complement the look.

    26. Coordinate with colour

    Christmas mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

    Embrace the spirit of the season by taking your Christmas colour scheme over to your fireplace.
    Go to town by adorning the mantelpiece with lots of pretty colour co-ordinated decorations. Give it some extra love with a festive red and white heart-shaped garland and red tree-shaped ornaments.

    27. Choose a traditional country look

    Christmas mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Rachel Whiting

    Thick green foliage adorned with traditional decorations and warm glowing fairylights looks beautiful alongside a charming country scheme, with rich-coloured tartans and a crackling open fire.

    28. Create a vintage display

    Christmas mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Wreford

    Display a selection of vintage jars filled with pine cones, cotton reels and dainty paintbrushes for a vintage and minimal mantelpiece. Lace fairy lights between the jars and add pretty white foliage.

    29. Add some glamor with silver candle sticks

    Christmas mantelpiece with candles and votives

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    Display tall candlesticks in silver candle holders of varying heights to create an elegant yet relaxed ambience. Add tealights and dainty fairy lights for extra glow, and a sparkly ‘Merry Christmas’ garland for a touch of understated glitz.

    30. Ditch holly in favour of roses and ivy

    Christmas mantelpiece

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Mark Bolton

    If you’re not a fan of bold and bright Christmas decor, opt for a beautiful foliage display atop your mantelpiece. This gorgeous assortment of white roses and greenery wouldn’t look out of place any time of year.

    What can I put on my mantel for Christmas?

    Depending on the look you’re going for this year, your Christmas mantel decor can be comprised of a variety of different pieces. Most common is a garland, either left naturalistic, or entwined with a string of fairy lights. Seasonal plants, like a poinsettia can add an extra festive touch. Candlesticks, baubles and stockings all help finish off the design of your holiday mantlepiece.

    How do you make a Christmas mantelpiece?

    If you’re unsure where to begin with your Christmas mantel decor, a simple idea is to choose decorations which match with your Christmas tree. Perhaps lay a fir garland across the top of the mantlepiece and dot in excess baubles from your tree. Tapered candles in complementary or matching colours will help add height as well as atmosphere come evening time. If you don’t have an open fire, you can still use a lot of mantel dressing ideas, as most can be easily adapted to work on decorative fire surrounds or ledges above a log burner.

    How long should a garland be on mantle?

    There are two main schools of thought when it comes to adding a garland to your Christmas mantel decor. One is to choose a garland which sits firmly on the mantel itself, and doesn’t fall down at the sides. This creates a very clean and restrained look. The other option is to drape the garland so that it hangs over the edges for a more naturalistic and relaxed approach. If you’re plumping for this, it’s a good idea to make sure that the ends stay in the top third of the height between the floor and the mantel to keep proportionality.

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