You’d think the thin strips of wood above our fireplaces were gangplanks, the way they make us quake at the knees when it’s time to dress them up for the holidays. Even those who love to decorate for the season feel stage fright when it comes to tackling their mantels. But I’ve got a secret for you. Creating a marvelous look on your mantel is really very simple when you follow one of these two strategies.

Add Tiny Touches

Adding just a few seasonal tweaks to your existing year-round display is the simplest, and sometimes most effective, way to spice up your mantel for the holidays. If you’re crazy about the look of your mantel, keep everything exactly where it is and just add a bit of greenery and a touch or two of glitz.

Arm yourself with some wonderful greens and play around a bit. Tuck an evergreen pick or strand of pine garland behind the artwork above your mantel, letting the branches lazily cascade over one corner. If you want, hang a few ornaments from the branches. Let a few more picks peak out from behind the items on your mantel.

If you have sconces hanging beside the artwork above your mantel, remove the candles and fill the cups with seasonal items such as pinecones, tree ornaments or holiday fruits like pomegranates. Then, spruce up your mantel display itself by adding a bit of greenery here, a few holiday accents there. Put a few picks behind the large objects, like urns or vases. Top a cluster of candlesticks with round tree ornaments. Fill an apothecary jar or hurricane with pinecones or pomegranates. Dress up a vase with a bouquet of winter greens and berries. If you have a piece of statuary or a figurine on your mantel, give it a playful holiday touch. Hang a tiny ornament, suspended from a ribbon, from its hand or crown its head with a wreath of evergreens.

Do a Complete Remake

If you’re raring to reinvent your mantel for the holidays, ask yourself a few key questions before you start. Should the display be formal or informal? Remember, it needs to match the style of the room. Would you rather have a symmetrical or asymmetrical look? Are you in the mood for a display that’s simple and streamlined, or over the top?

One more tip before you get started: Top your mantel with a piece of plywood painted or stained to match. That way, you can pound in nails to secure the greenery without hurting your mantel.

If you’re going for a no-holds-barred display, have fun. Your mantel is one spot where you can go a bit wild at the holidays. To create drama, focus on making one big statement. For instance, fill a large urn with branches you’ve spray painted gold or silver. Pick branches that are so tall, they almost reach the ceiling. Or, you could drape a long cord of showy pine garland up and over the mantel, letting it pool onto the floor on each side.

If you’re itching to get some new holiday decor on your mantel, check out some of the top sellers at Nell Hill’s this year: grape leaf picks covered in gold glitter, gold and silver glitter covered deer figurines, big plaid bows and mini glass cake stands that can hold ornaments.

If you already have more holiday décor than you can pack into your storage boxes, but you’re still yearning for something new this year, invest in one or two key decorating tools you can not only use in your holiday décor but also in your year-round decorating. Some of my favorites are five-armed silver candelabra, beautiful silver trays and gorgeous containers. Weave your new pieces into your year-round mantel display then add a few of the holiday touches described above.

Looks We Love at Nell Hill’s This Holiday Season

It is so fun to decorate the Nell Hill’s stores every year for the holidays. We have a blast as we reinvent the stores’ mantel displays again and again every year. Here are four mantel treatments we love this year.

Next Week …If you’ve been too busy to decorate for the holidays up until now, don’t worry. Next week I’ll have some quick, last-minute tricks you can use to give each room in your home instant holiday magic.

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7 Responses to “Create a Mantel Masterpiece this Holiday Season”

  1. Elizabeth B. Says:

    Wonderful and beautiful for all eyes to behold…so artistic…love greenery on mantel and thruout home and outside for holidays.
    Continued Blessings for the 2010 holidays and New Year to All there in Atchison and Kansas City!
    See you 6/11…
    hope you will have a stash of urns for me to look over.
    Elizabeth B

  2. Ana Maria Says:

    I LOVE your mantles! I love ALL your decor! (You validate my style; what more can I say?) My friends tell me you and I are twins separated at birth! What a compliment!

    Many blessings to you and yours this Christmas and may the New Year bring you peace, love and health!

    Ana María
    Miami, FL

  3. Ana Maria Says:

    I LOVE your mantles! I love ALL your decor! (You validate my style; what more can I say?) My friends tell me you and I are twins separated at birth! What a compliment!

    Many blessings to you and yours this Christmas and may the New Year bring you peace, love and health!

    Ana María
    Miami, FL

  4. Mary C. from Olathe Says:

    Last year and this year I put my navity scene on the mantel. It is pretty large and hand painted so it is very special. I tucked some winter greenery around it and put a star above it and it really brings alot of compliments. I have alot of Nell Hills in my home. I really enjoyed your open house again this year. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

  5. Judy Feld Says:

    Mary Carol: These are just beautiful and gave me ideas for one side or the other. You see I have a corner fireplace with a Vermont Casting wood burning stove in front of the corner and would love to have your input. Thanks for your help.
    Judy Feld

  6. Billie Aye Says:

    A trip to Nell Hill’s is a joy! Inspiration at every turn. I found wonderful small gifts there again this year. I had to buy an extra one of every single different ornament I found to keep for myself, of course, otherwise the “recipients” of these unusual little treasures would be left out! I just gave the first one away at a luncheon on Tuesday and the new owner was delighted to have it! Your store is just a fun and marvelous place to go.

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