Create a mantel masterpiece this Yule season

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.

Your holiday mantel display should match the tone and style of the room.

Your holiday mantel display should match the tone and style of the room.

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 mantels. But I’ve got a secret for you: Creating a marvelous look on your mantel is 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. It’s the option I’m choosing this year. I’m crazy about the look on my mantel right now, so I’m going to 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 cascade lazily 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 and a few holiday accents there. Like I’m doing, tuck 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 pine cones or pomegranates. Dress up a vase with a bouquet of wintergreens 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 for 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 that 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 the glitzy trees that are hot this season. Get a trio of trees in graduated sizes and cluster them at the mantel’s center, filling in with a few glittered deer figurines so the overall grouping is shaped like a triangle. Or group a cluster of trees and deer on either side of the mantel, creating two pyramid-shaped displays.

If you already have more holiday decor 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 decor but also in year-round decorating. Some of my favorites are five-armed silver candelabra, beautiful silver trays and gorgeous containers. Then weave your new pieces into your year-round mantel display and add a few of the holiday touches described above.

Mary Carol Garrity is the proprietor of three successful home-furnishings stores and is the author of several best-selling books on home decorating. Write her at nellhills@lvnworth.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The interchange at Highway 2 and McKenzie Road at the south end of Gasoline Alley is being redesigned with two roundabouts. Detours will be in place at either end of the overpass during construction, which is expected to begin this month and finish in October. (Graphic from Red Deer County)
Roudabouts coming to McKenzie Road overpass at Gasoline Alley

Project expected to improve traffic flow at busy intersections

A federal strategy to preserve threatened trout could conflict with provincial coal leases in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. (Contributed photo by Jeff Lund).
Federal regulations could save Alberta’s bull trout by shutting down mining plans, says biologist

Ottawa’s new strategy identifies a 30-metre protected area along rivers and streams

(Contributed image)
Wolf Creek Public Schools will not participate in curriculum pilot

Central Alberta school jurisdiction joins others across Alberta

Jennifer Lopez, left, and Alex Rodriguez take a selfie as they arrive at the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in January 2020. VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World will showcase Lopez. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)
Selena Gomez and J.Lo headline vax concert for poor nations

NEW YORK — Backed by an international concert hosted by Selena Gomez… Continue reading

A vial of the vaccine by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a company owned by Johnson & Johnson. Federal health officials in the U.S. said early Tuesday they were urging a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after reports of six serious blood clots, and officials in Washington state and around the country quickly complied. (Aristide Economopoulos/NJ Advance Media)
How J&J and AstraZeneca differ from the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine has hit a stumbling block in… Continue reading

An emergency response worker carries an air monitoring device at the site of a crude oil spill at a Trans Mountain Pipeline pump station in Abbotsford, on Sunday, June 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Failed fitting caused 190,000-litre spill at Trans Mountain site in B.C.: TSB

VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board report says the failure of a… Continue reading

Ottawa
Indigenous leaders, experts urge Ottawa to quickly pass UNDRIP bill before election

OTTAWA — Indigenous leaders and legal experts are pushing federal lawmakers to… Continue reading

Visitors to a roadside memorial pay their respects in Portapique, N.S., on Friday, April 24, 2020. The Canadian Red Cross confirmed today it has collected $6.2 million in donations to help the families in rural Nova Scotia affected by the mass shooting last spring that claimed 22 lives. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Red Cross collects $6.2 million for families affected by Nova Scotia mass shooting

HALIFAX — Canadians and people from around the world donated $6.2 million… Continue reading

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

FILE-Team Canada’s Meaghan Mikkelson fights for control of the puck with U.S.A.’s Hayley Scamurra during third period of Women’s Rivalry Series hockey action in Vancouver, Wednesday, February 5, 2020. Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada’s director of women’s national teams, hopes a Rivalry Series against the United States can happen this winter.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Dwyer
Canadian women’s hockey team to open selection camp in Nova Scotia

Six goaltenders, 15 defenders and 26 forwards will vie for spots on Canada’s 23-player roster

Most Read