Christmas Mantel Decor: Styling Tips and Tricks

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Learn how to decorate a Christmas mantel in five easy steps! After years of putting together Christmas mantel decor, I’ve finally come up with a foolproof guide to simplify the process. I hope this tutorial helps you decorate like a pro and avoid holiday frustration.

View of Christmas mantel decor and Christmas tree from a side angle.

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5 Steps for Simple Christmas Mantel Decor

Decorating a fireplace mantel for Christmas can seem a little tricky when there are so many different possibilities. To get started, I always like to browse some photos for inspiration.

Take a look at these 27 Christmas mantel ideas to get your gears turning.

I think it’s helpful to have a general style in mind before you dive into decorating. Do you like rustic farmhouse Christmas decor, or do you want something more contemporary and minimalist?

For the purpose of this guide, I’ll assume you start with some type of garland. (I used this battery-operated garland for my Christmas mantel.) Keep in mind there are many beautiful mantel ideas that don’t use any type of garland at all.

How to Decorate a Mantel in 5 Steps

  • Hang a garland securely on the mantel
  • Add floral accents, lights, and ornaments
  • Add bells or decorative ribbons
  • Hang stockings on the garland
  • Place decorative accents on top of the mantel

1. Choose a Christmas garland

If you choose to have a garland for the mantel, you’ll want to consider whether you’ll go with a faux garland or a real evergreen garland.

Side view of faux evergreen and berry garland on Christmas mantel
Faux pre-lit garland with evergreen and berry accents

One year, I went for a real cedar garland, which looked beautiful but had some tradeoffs. If you have allergies to cedar or pine, I don’t recommend going for the real deal! The torture of constant sneezing doesn’t make for a happy holiday.

Here’s a look at my Christmas mantel decor with real cedar branches and berry stems I foraged from the neighborhood:

Farmhouse Christmas mantel with DIY wooden sign that reads "Peace on Earth"
Real cedar garland with Savannah Holly stems

I’m linking to some of my top picks for faux Christmas garlands below if you want to find some great options. Many are on sale at the start of the season.


How to hang garland on a mantel

Once you have a beautiful Christmas garland, you’ll face the question of how to hang it on a fireplace mantel. Enter command hooks!

Command hook used to hang a garland on a mantel
Command hooks on top of mantel

To hang my Christmas garland, I used three command hooks that hold up to 5 pounds each. As you can see in the photo above, the hooks sit on the top of my wooden mantel, and the garland hangs on each hook.

I suggest starting with the left-most hook and then working your way to the middle and right hooks.

“What if my garland is too thick or heavy to use command strips?” you might ask. In that case, keep reading to see how I’ve hung other heavy objects on my mantel.

2. Add floral accents, lights, and ornaments

Yay, you’ve managed to hang your Christmas garland! To jazz it up a bit and make it look more professional, let’s decorate it with a few simple accents.

Christmas Lights

My evergreen garland came with lights included (a major bonus), but you can always add lights to your garland if you like.

I recommend this two-pack of fairy lights that has a wireless remote. You can use the second strand of lights for your tree or a DIY Christmas wreath.

Ornaments and Floral Accents

Closeup of Christmas ornaments hung on a Christmas mantel garland

While my faux garland came with some berries and pine cones attached, I wanted to add some larger accents. If your mantel sits near your Christmas tree, I suggest coordinating with the color scheme. Just don’t feel like you have to be matchy-matchy.

Closeup of ornaments that are part of Christmas mantel decor

I used a mix of solid red ornaments with a high gloss finish and some red and gold ornaments with glitter details. The latter ornaments (from Hobby Lobby) were also featured in my red and gold Christmas tree decor.

The berries came from Hobby Lobby as a bundle that I divided into stems with wire cutters.

To attach these items, I simply hooked the ornaments onto the garland branches and tucked the stems inside using a rough zig-zag pattern.

My Top Ornaments & Floral Picks

Pine cones, frosted stems, and faux florals are great ways to enhance Christmas mantel decor.

3. Add bells or ribbon to garland

Last year, I invested in a high-quality bell swag that I plan to use for many years to come. For a more budget-friendly option, you could also hang some velvet ribbon or a bow on one end of your garland.

Bell swag Christmas mantel decor accent
Christmas bell swag

I had no idea how heavy these Christmas bells would be, so I’m glad we had an easy solution for hanging them.

Screw on top of Christmas mantel to hang heavy objects

Several years ago, our Christmas garland was too thick to hang on command hooks. Instead, we placed small screws on the top of our mantel and used heavy-duty cording to hang the garland (see below). I used those same screws to hang my bell swag.

Red and gold Christmas mantel garland
Christmas garland hung with screws and cording

Trust me, no one will ever notice a small screw in your mantel. Plus, it will give you tons of options for fall mantel decor or even winter mantel decor as you transition out of Christmas.


4. Hang stockings on the garland

For the past few years, I’ve used these knit stockings for my Christmas mantel. They are lightweight enough to loop onto the garland branches.

To coordinate the stockings with the rest of my decor, I added some DIY pom-poms to each one using chunky yarn.

Knit stockings hung from Christmas mantel garland

One caveat I’ll make is that Santa doesn’t leave the stockings hanging when he fills them with Christmas goodies. (I guess he knows I don’t want to push the limits of my command strips.)

5. Place decorations on top of the mantel

I’ve swapped out so many decor accents on my Christmas mantel over the years. One year, I used a giant wreath, and another year I used a DIY farmhouse sign. The sign is reversible and reusable for many holidays.

The focal point of my Christmas mantel this year is a mirror. A designer once told me I shouldn’t do this because it doesn’t reflect anything interesting, but I like it…so it’s staying.

Two tall wooden angel statues sitting on a Christmas mantel

To the right of the mirror, I placed two 24-inch angel statues that I spotted at a local store. (I paid quite a bit less for these locally, but they are hard to find online.)

Left side of Christmas mantel showing candlesticks and reindeer statue

To the left, I used two tall candlesticks that have made an appearance many times on the blog. The reindeer statue is a Home Goods find that also tends to find its way to my mantel.

My main piece of advice when finding Christmas mantel decor accents is to go tall and balance each side. I like groupings of two or three items on each side, but you could also have accents that are spaced along the entire mantel (think Christmas village houses).


Finishing touches at the base of the fireplace

To tie all of your Christmas mantel decorations together, consider adding one or two items at the base of your fireplace.

Poinsettia plant and wooden sled at base of fireplace mantel decorated for Christmas

I added a real poinsettia plant and a wooden sled that was a gift from my mom. You could also try adding a basket filled with throw blankets, a lantern decorated for Christmas, or a fireplace screen and tool set.

For those of you with little toddlers running around, you’re a champ for even being here trying to decorate! I was in your shoes not so long ago. Maybe you’ll want to skip decorating the base of the fireplace and just soak up these precious days when your kids are still enjoying the magic of Christmas. The years go by too quickly!

Feel free to ask questions in the comments below or share your own tips for Christmas mantel decor. I hope you make many happy memories by the fireplace hearth with your families!

Pin it for later!

Collage pin of Christmas mantel decor closeups including Christmas garland, decorative accents, and ornaments
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  1. Crissy, your mantel is GORGEOUS! And your tips are so clever. I’m going to share a photo and link to your post in my week in rewind post on Saturday. I think my readers will love it as much as I do.🥰

    1. Aw, thanks so much, Jen! I so appreciate the share and look forward to reading your post. I love your Saturday weekly rewind. Happy Holidays to you and your family! Hugs, Crissy