Decorating a Fireplace Mantel for Christmas

Nothing gets the seasonal spirit soaring and the magic dancing throughout your home more quickly than decorating a fireplace mantel. You may not realize it, but the mantel is noticed almost as much as the Christmas tree. A beautiful mantel will encourage guests to take a seat by the fire and enjoy the holiday.

Winter Wonderland
For a lovely mantel scene that's sure to capture everyone's heart, try a Winter Wonderland with faux snow and tiny streetlights that really work. Depending on the width of the mantel, many of the popular villages work well. Picture it: A winter scene with four to six buildings, including at least one church, birch and evergreen trees, a few picket fences, a few of battery-operated streetlights, perhaps a mailbox or two and, of course, foil stars against the backdrop to catch and reflect the lights that beam warmly from within.

Garland for Holiday Allure
While there are many choices for mantel displays, a top choice is garland. Garland is versatile and never goes unnoticed. A simple six-foot strand of fresh garland laid on the mantel will keep the family congregated in that room, and nothing says Christmastime better than the scent of pine.

When it comes to garland, anything goes, of course, but it's always smart to have a base that's sturdy enough to last for the entire holiday season. For a thick, elegant garland that's slightly wider than the mantel, use balsam or blue spruce as the base and weave in a variety of different plants such as holly, boxwood, twigs, rosehips and a variety of faux or fresh leaves or herbs.

Sparkle can be added in the form of bulbs, spray-painted pine cones, shiny fake fruit and festive ribbon. If the garland hangs over the sides of the mantel, you can also hide a few push lights on the underside of the mantel for an extra glow. You can easily purchase inexpensive push lights at the dollar store.

Photo Finish
For a family-oriented mantel, why not add an entire collection of family photos in holiday frames? Add a thin garland of cedar and pine woven in and around the photos, a strand of white lights or a few strategically placed candles, and the end result is simple yet stunning.

Bring Nature Inside
For a whimsical feel, a garland of pine cones, berries, leaves, twigs and other items found in the woods serves as the perfect home for vintage "knee-hugging" elves who like to hide among the greenery. A few shiny baubles and colored lights strung throughout add a whimsical and practical touch. Imagine those precious little pixie smiles both on the children who view the mantel.

The Nativity Scene
The Nativity scene is the perfect centerpiece for a wide mantel. In addition to the Nativity, set a few foil stars against the backdrop or one large star in the east to simulate the night sky on that special day so long ago.

Faux, Bedazzled, Glorious Fruit
One centerpiece that has grown in popularity during the holidays is one that highlights fruit. Who doesn't like faux fruit during the holidays? It's shiny, can be readily found, won't ripen on the mantel as the holidays progress, and it can be reused again next year. Taper candles in various heights add elegance to an already glamorous mantel.

Keep the Theme Going
Remember, the mantel, which is the second-most powerful focal point in the room also will reflect the number one focal point, the Christmas tree. For a theme that continues throughout, decorate both areas in the same colors, using the same color of lights. But whatever you do, don't skimp. Whether you choose to go with a Winter Wonderland on your fireplace mantel or just a few simple sprigs of evergreen, the bottom line is doing what you and your family like the most.

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