A Beginner’s Guide to Decorating Your Mantel for the Holidays—12 Ideas to Spark Inspiration


I’m a November 1 girlie. And by that, I mean that once the Halloween candy is eaten and the pumpkins are put away, my Christmas tree and all its accompanying decor take over. It’s not only because I’m a holiday enthusiast (although that accounts for 75% of my festive fervor). There’s also an unspoken magic that shines and shimmers throughout our homes when the holidays set in. With the season’s chilly, snow-flecked weather, our spaces become an opportunity to reflect all the coziness and comfort we hope to curate within. So, to spark a little inspiration, we’ve rounded up our favorite holiday mantel decorating ideas ahead.

Despite living in a small space, there are still countless ways I can make my apartment a holiday haven. My strategy for keeping things celebratory without going overboard? Designate a few “hubs” of your house where you’ll focus your decorating efforts. With 1000 square feet to spare, I’m honing in on the tree, dining table, windows, and yes—the mantel. This approach lets everything feel streamlined while still making clear: I’m all about spreading the holiday cheer.

12 Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas for 2023

And if you don’t have a mantel? No problem. There are still plenty of spaces to dedicate your decorating efforts. If you’re looking for somewhere to hang the stockings, try a bed post, a blanket ladder, or even putting up a few floating shelves. I love the idea too, of stringing a garland along the banister. The point is, holiday mantel decorating ideas are all about getting creative and making the most of your space. Because this time of year is all about embracing what we have and sharing gratitude for the joy already present in our lives.

With that in mind, let’s get to the holiday mantel decorating ideas that’ll take your home to holi-yay status.

Holiday mantel decor
Holiday mantel decor ideas.

See more: Camille’s earthy and organic holiday decor.

1. Go Asymmetrical

True artistry exists in the imperfections—and that rule applies to our holiday mantel decorating ideas. String your greenery or garland so that the end drapes down one end of your mantel. This simple design decision creates a subtle sense of drama. Balance it out by stacking your stockings and grouping a few taper candles to the opposite side.

2. Follow the Rule of Threes

When adding accessories (like candles or design elements) to your mantel, keep the rule of threes in mind. Across countless disciplines, it’s understood that we’re best able to process information through pattern recognition—and three is the smallest number that allows us to recognize a pattern in a set. Put simply, arranging objects in threes is most pleasing to the eye. So rather than scattering a bunch of disparate accents separately, place them in groups so they can shine their best.

3. Try Taper Candles

While we love decorating our holiday mantels with candles of all sorts, long taper candles draw the eye upwards, resulting in an elegant aesthetic. While you’re certainly welcome to use white candles, go for the unexpected and mix color tones. I love Camille’s pairing of a black candle holder with a taupe candle.

holiday mantel decor 2023

See more: Camille’s evergreen forest holiday decor.

4. Use a Mirror

Once of the easiest and most game-changing design tricks? Place mirrors strategically throughout your home to reflect light and make the space feel bigger. This same tip applies to the mantel, helping amplify your holiday setup. With sources of light from candles, twinkly strands, and the fireplace itself, this idea works all the better.

5. Wrap Candles in Birch

For a quick and easy DIY, elevate your go-to white pillar candles by wrapping pieces of birch around them. This gives your mantel a woodland, natural vibe that’ll make your space a hundred times cozier. (Psst… flameless candles are key here.)

6. Don’t Forget the Details

While we’re all about looking big-picture with our holiday mantel decorating ideas, the magic is also made in the details. What small, festive touches will bring you joy? For me, that’s a simple ceramic bowl filled with pinecones or a few bottlebrush trees on my mantel. Whatever those details are for you, be sure to make them a priority.

woodland holiday mantel decor

See more: Camille’s natural, woodland holiday home.

7. Keep It Cohesive

Yes, this is a special time of year—but we’re not looking to reinvent the wheel with our holiday mantel decorating ideas. Instead, use the aesthetic you already have set in place to establish the foundation for your decor. As Camille encourages, “… consider how your own personal style can be reflected through your holiday decor, rather than being guided by trends.”

8. Incorporate Varying Textures

For this statement-making garland, Camille created depth and interest by incorporating different greenery into the design. Combining different firs, pines, and eucalyptus has the power to still make an impact while managing not to detract from the mantel’s other design elements.

9. Fill the Fireplace

If you don’t have a working fireplace, you still have plenty of options for making it a source of visual comfort. My favorite idea? If your home is already overflowing with gifts, stack them aesthetically in the fireplace. Or, if Santa hasn’t arrived yet, simply wrap boxes in coordinating paper (we love white, kraft paper, velvet ribbons, and touches of black) to make a statement while sticking to your design budget.

Modern holiday mantel decor.
Modern Christmas mantel decorating ideas.

See more: Camille’s modern holiday decor.

10. Draw the Eye Across the Mantel

I love the visual interest that a simple shift in the placement of your greenery can create. By flanking the fireplace with arrangements on the top and bottom corners, the eye is drawn to the fireplace while still framing the mantel in its entirety. To create balance, align stockings in the middle of the two arrangements.

11. Pair a Minimalist Palette With a Maximalist Approach

The holidays often evoke a “more is more” mentality. And while we love the idea of abundance, our goal is to opt for balance. To create a sense of magic on the mantel, go minimalist with your colors—natural greenery and neutral shades work best—while aiming to create a statement with the volume and scale of decor. The resulting look is lush without overwhelming the eye.

12. Hygge Your Home

Of course, this tip goes beyond the holiday mantel. But because we crave coziness at every turn, we’re big on hygge holiday mantel decorating ideas. To make it happen, lean into soft textures with your stockings, twinkling candles, and an overall approach of simplicity. For many, the mantel marks the central point of your home. During the holidays, it’s somewhere you gather with friends and family to share your love. We’d argue that it should be a reflection of all the warmth and joy found within.





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