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How Do I Choose the Best Christmas Mantel Decorations?

By Nicole Long
Updated May 17, 2024
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Choosing the best Christmas mantel decorations doesn’t have to be difficult. Measuring the mantel and taking stock of other decorations in the room can provide a great start for mantel decorating ideas and solutions. Including traditional and non-traditional items among the choices can start new family traditions when it comes to mantel decorations for Christmas.

The amount of decoration that can be placed on a mantle largely depends on the size of the mantel. Measurements of the depth, from front to back, and length will help you get a general idea of the types of Christmas mantel decorations that will work with a specific mantle. Available height along the mantle or any objects that will impede with taller decorations should also be taken into account.

Using a theme throughout the room can help when picking out Christmas mantel decorations. This includes themes related to colors, objects, and figures. Popular themes include traditional red and green decorations, objects such as snowflakes, and figures such as Santa Claus and elves.

Sticking with traditional decorations can make decorating a mantel quick and easy. Small versions of Christmas trees, poinsettia plants, and simple garland can all fit on most mantels and help add a touch of Christmas spirit to the room. Stockings hung along the mantel during Christmas can further expand upon a traditional Christmas theme.

Considering non-traditional decorations when choosing Christmas mantel decorations can also bring in personal and seasonal touches. This can include a bowl of fruit, such as oranges, displayed with pine cones or pine needles for a seasonal flair. Other options include choosing items in colors such as blue and purple.

Starting with an idea of what type of decorations to add to a mantel can lead to choosing one or two focal pieces. These will typically be the largest items on the mantel, such as a plant or figurine. The remainder of the decorations should tie in with the focal items, but they can also be used to bridge the gap between decorations in the rest of the room.

Other more personalized ideas exist for decorating a mantel during the holiday season as well. This includes displaying photos of past Christmas and holiday memories or placing cherished collectibles on the mantel for display. Candles in holiday scents, such as cinnamon, vanilla, and evergreen, and colors, such as red, green, and white, can also help bolster a mantel display during the holidays.

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Discussion Comments
By anon306166 — On Nov 28, 2012

I live in an 1851 historic townhouse neighboring the home Sherman lived in after his conquest, in Savannah. I am a Yankee, by the way, and proud of that. It's my first Christmas in this house, complete with a gorgeous fireplace and mantel.

I decorated today with greenery, pine cones, candles and silver, including tarnished antiques and pewter. It's so beautiful that I plan on keeping it up through the winter as nothing on it screams Christmas -- just elegance.

By Charred — On Jan 30, 2012

One of the best Christmas decorating ideas I’ve found for the mantel is to go to the dollar store and buy little figures of a small Christmas town.

It’s neat because you can get a complete set, which includes people, horses, buildings and the town square. I loved doing this so much that I just left the figurines on the mantel all year long!

Of course some people asked me why I had my Christmas decorations still up but I tell them I think they make for great decorations, and they do. They are great conversation pieces. I like the dainty world of the late 1800s and so that’s why I leave them up. I guess it’s just become part of my overall home décor.

By andee — On Jan 29, 2012

I have been in some homes and have seen some very beautiful and elegant Christmas mantel decor. Some of them look like pictures right out of a magazine.

While I always find these very beautiful, I use a much simpler approach when it comes to decorating my mantel.

During the holidays I use my mantel as a place of remembrance for our family. I have special pictures here that have been taken and passed down through the years.

Every year it gets harder and harder to decide which pictures to include in the mantel display. I like to leave enough room for a few candles to light in honor of our loved ones who are no longer here to celebrate Christmas with us.

I think when it comes to choosing Christmas mantel decorations, there isn't any right or wrong way to go about it. As long as you enjoy it, that is what matters.

By John57 — On Jan 28, 2012

My mom loves to decorate for Christmas. She has to have a large space to store everything from her Christmas yard decorations to all of her inside decorations, which always include a beautiful mantel display.

She has a big mantel over a real wood burning fireplace, and this is a huge focal point in her living room.

Her mantle decorations change from year to year, but she usually always has a big display of greenery. When she had her house built, she had electrical sockets built in right by her mantel so she could plug things in without having a cord hanging down.

With all the greenery she has on the mantel, it really looks beautiful when she plugs in the lights she has winding through all the evergreen branches and pine cones.

By golf07 — On Jan 28, 2012

I like to display the handmade Christmas decorations my kids have made through the years on my mantel.

There isn't room to put all of them there, but each year I choose a few from each one of the kids. This is something they look forward to as much as I do.

When they were younger, I let them choose which decorations they wanted on the mantel. Now that they are older, I choose most of them, but they always notice which decorations are up there.

With their handmade decorations on the mantel and their stockings hanging from the mantel, this is one of our favorite spots in the house during the Christmas season.

My kids have always looked forward to stockings on Christmas morning as much as they do opening presents.

I like to keep these decorations on the mantel for at least a couple weeks after Christmas. It is always a little bit sad to take them down, but I always know I will look forward to putting them up again next year.

By Mykol — On Jan 28, 2012

My Dad was in the military in Germany for many years. During that time, my parents accumulated a lot of German Christmas decorations.

I have inherited most of these unique decorations, and like to display them on my mantel every year.

They add a special old world theme to my mantle, and every year I look forward to getting out these decorations and displaying them on the mantel.

My favorite is a German carousel that I have placed in the middle. This is surrounded by the rest of the decorations which include several different nutcracker figurines.

Most of the German ornaments go on the tree, but some of the larger ornaments that stand up by themselves are on the mantel as well.

By seag47 — On Jan 27, 2012

My mother had a unique Christmas mantel idea a few years ago. She had my dad install a shelf about three feet above the mantel, and she hung small hooks from the bottom of it.

She placed the hooks at seemingly random intervals and hung various ornaments from them. She also varied the length of the string from which the ornaments hung, so some of them would hang high in the air and some would nearly touch the top of the mantel.

She used ornaments in every color of the rainbow. It was a very beautiful display, and the children would stare at it, mesmerized.

I think the best way to decorate your mantel is with your imagination. I like it when people don't simply rely on the usual décor. If you can visualize a creative mantel display, then you should try it out.

By shell4life — On Jan 27, 2012

I used to try to find new Christmas mantel decorating ideas each year, but once I came up with one that I really loved, I decided to stick with it for several years. To me, it is the most striking mantel décor I have ever had, and I love that.

I buy different sized red poinsettia plants. I place the tallest ones in the back and the shorter ones in front. In between and all around the plants, I place giant peppermint candy decorations.

These decorations look like actual round pieces of hard peppermint candy. They vary from the size of a small saucer to that of a large dinner plate.

It is good to have a variety of sizes and to mix up the placement of objects according to size. It adds some serious depth to my mantel, and it makes the design come alive.

By cloudel — On Jan 26, 2012

@orangey03 – I also like to use colors that most people would not relate to Christmas on my mantel. My Christmas mantel decor is all orange, green, and white.

I have a basket of pine cones that I harvested myself and spray-painted white. I put these in a green basket, along with orange ornaments.

If you have trouble finding ornaments in nontraditional colors, then you can choose some that can easily be painted. I found a couple of wooden nutcrackers and reindeer at a crafts store, and they had absolutely no paint on them, so they looked great when I painted them solid colors.

By orangey03 — On Jan 26, 2012

Since I have a white Christmas tree in my living room, I get a bit nontraditional when it comes to the colors of my mantel decor. I think that pink and blue Christmas ornaments go best with a white tree, so I decorate my mantel in the same color scheme.

I have some white tinsel that I use to cover the top of the mantel and spill over the sides. On top of this, I place a few blue and pink round ornaments.

I have a couple of tall, shiny Christmas decorations I was able to find in pink and blue at a yard sale. One is a pink angel, and the other is a blue Christmas tree. These provide a nice contrast to the white tinsel.

By chivebasil — On Jan 25, 2012

I have a bunch of pink Christmas decorations that belonged to my dear mother who has since passed on. It is not the most elegant mantle decor but I put it up every year. For me it is more important to have a little piece of my mom around at the holidays than to be elegant.

By whiteplane — On Jan 24, 2012

I have a beautiful sculpture of Santa in his sleigh being pulled by all of the reindeer that I put up every year. It is almost 3 feet long so it stretches across most of my mantle and makes a striking Christmas decoration around the holidays.

It is beautifully carved and amazingly detailed. I got it at an amazing flea market in Norway and I know that it is worth much more than I paid for it.

By jonrss — On Jan 24, 2012

I know that I am not the first or only person to do this, but around the holidays I use my mantle to display all the Christmas cards that I receive from my friends and family.

It's nice because family is really the most important part of the holiday and it's nice to have a visual reminder of the people you most care about. Lots of these cards contain some kind of family or personal photo on the front.

It may not be as visually striking as a nativity scene or some elaborate winter tableau. But it is simple and heartfelt and I can't think of anything I would rather have up on my mantle.

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