The fireplace really comes into its own in the wintertime, with family and friends usually gathered around it, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company (as well as some wine or hot chocolate!) It goes without saying then that, if you have a fireplace, it had best be in good shape come December.
From traditional pieces to modern updates, style your Christmas mantelpiece with these mainstays for a perfectly festive look.
These often carefully beaded and embellished mantelpiece accents have been a tradition for at least two-hundred years. (They’re even mentioned in the 1823 poem, ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Clarke Moore.) Although no one knows the true origin of the tradition, the most popular seems to be the story of the poor, widowed man who, worrying that his daughters wouldn’t get married due to lack of dowries, was given a generous gift by old Saint Nick in the form of three bags of gold which landed, inexplicably, in each of the girls’ stockings which were hanging to dry on the fireplace.
Make a focal point of yours by trimming the underneath of your mantelpiece with your special family heirloom stockings or a luxurious new addition; hang a complementary Christmas decoration from the same hook for extra festive cheer or embellish the hook with a satin ribbon bow; or draw colours from the stockings to create the palette for the rest of the mantel.
Coming from German Lutheran origins circa the 16th century, advent or Christmas wreaths, like stockings, are a wonderfully traditional Christmas decor. Typically, the wreath would include five candles – four on the outside and one in the middle – which would be lit each day, one per week and then another each succeeding week from the beginning of advent until Christmas. The central candle would be lit on Christmas Eve to signify the birth of Christ.
Although they are most popularly hung these days in doorways, the addition of an evergreen (or faux evergreen) wreath propped up on a mantelpiece, hung on a mantlepiece mirror or placed in an unused fireplace takes festive decorating to the next level. If you like yours hung on a mirror, be sure to use a silky ribbon for the bow. A new trend sees the addition of bejewelled clips which can dress up even the simplest of wreaths.
Image Credit: LuxDeco.com
If there’s one thing that makes Christmastime even more magical, it’s candlelight, particularly when combined with firelight. The flickering flames reflect off of antique glass baubles, crystal snowflakes and delicate glassware in a wonderfully nostalgic way.
Since the fireplace will be a popular gathering spot during the festive season, dress yours with pretty candles and candleholders in delicious festive scents. Their presence will bring your mantelpiece arrangement to life as well as adding height. Think of scents which will enhance your festive season (the Classic Holiday Candle by Ralph Lauren is Christmas incarnate) and find vessels which suit your existing arrangement.
What’s a Christmas mantelpiece without a garland? Like wreaths, garlands bring vibrant greenery into your home during a relatively green-less season and can be left relatively plain or decorated with Christmas accents such as berries twigs, poinsettias, ribbons and baubles. Favourite garland options include pine, fir and eucalyptus.
Typically, this festive foliage is laid elegantly across a mantel or swagged on the mantel edge. When decorating your mantelpiece, place the garland first when there’s the most space to play with, leaving little niches for the other elements of your display. Once the garland is secured, embellish with candles, glassware or ornaments for a layered look.
Make the most of your candlelight with the addition of flawless glassware in the form of cloches, crystal vases and even antique fruit or sweet bowls. Collect your glassware and choose your filler of choice – you might want to fill your pieces with pinecones for a natural look, baubles for an doubtedly Christmassy look or a flurry of tiny LED fairy lights for extra sparkle.
Your mantelpiece’s aesthetic will most likely be determine the type of glassware you include. Cloches and cut crystal might best accent a more traditional mantelpiece whilst geometric and metallic glassware might suggest something more modern.
There’s no need to completely stow away the Christmas mantel display at the end of the season. Let cross-seasonal pieces – especially those with metallic details – accent your Christmas spread and maybe even help you narrow down your Christmas palette.
Cross-seasonal pieces are smart mantelpiece decor for two reasons – one, they can be used throughout the year and, two, they prevent the mantel from being completely overwhelmed by Christmas decorations. (Unless of course, that’s your intention!)
Try dressing up existing vases and jars with evergreen sprigs, candlesticks with festive coloured candles, mirrored photo frames with Christmas scenes and jars with flocked Christmas trees.