Christmas Mantel Decorating Idea Using Candles & Fresh Greenery

Christmas mantel decorating idea and tips when using candles, classic ball ornaments & fresh greenery.

A fire crackles happily in the fireplace, pretty lights twinkle on fragrant evergreen branches and Andy Williams is singing, It’s The Holiday Season on the stereo in the background.

These are my favorite memories of being home and Christmastime. I find these simple things the most enduring.

Candles in the windows and everywhere, bowls of nuts and clementines piled on a pedestal stand are simple and inexpensive. Simple and/or natural decor like bouquets of evergreen branches placed casually around. And of course there is nothing like a warm, cracking fire on a cold snowy winter night to put me in the holiday spirit.

3 White Christmas stockings hanging on cedar draped fireplace mantel

Since my living room is the main room in house that I decorate for the holidays, when thinking about how to decorate my fireplace mantel, I knew I wanted to keep it fairly simple and nature inspired just like a did when decorating my Christmas tree, but also to find ways that would bring back fond Christmas memories.

Nostalgia plays a big part in how I decorate my house for the holidays. In my post about not wanting to get stressed over the merry season. I told you to give yourself permission to only do what really matters and not worry about the rest. I am taking my own advice.

Black and white photo with Diane, In My Own Style blogger and her twin sister on Christmas morning 1964
My twin sister, Carol and I when we were 4-1/2 years old.

When I was a little kid growing up in the 60’s, electric plastic candolier’s lights placed in windows was a popular thing to do when decorating a house for Christmas. (Look for the arrow in the window in the above photo). When I was little, these were always in every window. When I see them, I instantly get transported back to snuggly and magical memories of Christmas comfort and joy with my family.

Christmas living room simple decorating ideas

As the years past, these candlolier’s became dated and single metal based candles became the norm. For my mantel, I wanted to create a way to bring back the memory of the candolier’s with 3 or more candles.

In the lake house, I don’t have windows, I have sliding glass doors in each room. The candles have no sill to sit on, so I can’t use them. :-( I do make this possible using stools place by the doors when my daughters come home for Christmas so they can still enjoy that magical feel of falling asleep with Christmas candle glow in their rooms.

Candle filled fireplace mantel decorated for the holidays

To decorate the mantel I gathered 13 candleholders, some silver and two glass ones to create the look of the vintage candoliers. I had 4 to start and bought the rest at a church bazaar a few weeks ago. A few were brass and I spray painted them silver.

The cedar branches are clippings from two trees in my yard. The silver mercury glass ornaments I have collected over the years.

Pink, green and red plaid trimmed Christmas stocking with rhinestone pin hung on a mantel

The Christmas stockings I made when I first started blogging. I change the fabric cuffs on them every few years to make them look different. Last year I made fur cuffs. I found the plaid flannel fabric at Hobby Lobby. I had the Rhinestone pins in my crafting supply stash.

Silver ornaments and candleholders with white candles on a mantel decorated for Christmas

Tips When Decorating With Candles

Candles add warmth, style and mood to any setting, especially at Christmastime. When I use candles to decorate, I always:

  • Group candles together so they look festive even when not lit.
  • Unite the candles I plan to use by keeping the color uniform or use varying shades of one color in an assortment of candle styles and candleholders.
  • Group different size tapers in one straight line or line them up in two lines, varying the height. Space them evenly in order of height or place a tall candle in the center with shorter ones going down the line on each side.
  • Transform the fireplace when not using into a “candleplace”. Add a collection of candles, varying the heights with bricks to create the look of fire glow. I like to do this when the weather is too warm to light a fire.
  • Refrigerate candles before using them so they will burn slowly and evenly. Wrap them in foil or plastic wrap to prevent the wicks from absorbing moisture.
  • Light new candles when entertaining before guests arrive and then extinguish them; they’ll light more quickly later when the party starts.
  • Add water to glass votive and pillar style candle holders to make it easy to clean. Add about 1/8″ of water to each glass before inserting the candle.
  • Don’t burn yourself trying to light hard-to-reach burned down candles. Light a piece of raw spaghetti and use it to light the wicks.
Living room with stone fireplace and seagrass rug decorated for Christmas

Where to Find Free Greenery

  1. Head outside. Grab your clippers and find some holly, boxwood, pine, cedar or any evergreen in your yard or woods near your home. I always move around the tree to make sure I am not changing the shape as I clip away branches.
  2. Ask at your local tree farm, nursery, or home improvement store where they sell fresh Christmas trees. When they sell a tree, they trim the bottom branches off and throw them in a scrap pile. These are usually free to take.
3 White Christmas stockings hung along a white mantel on an AirStone fireplace.

Tips When Decorating With Fresh Greenery

  • To prevent wilting and browning: Avoid cutting branches with new growth, these wilt faster.
  • Cut the branches using sharp clippers at a 45-degree angle. Wear gloves to protect your hands.
  • Place the greens in water until you are ready to decorate with them.
  • Keep them out of the direct sun and away from heating vents. These will dry the greens out very fast.
  • Don’t over think the arranging. Let the cuttings fall into place naturally along a mantel or shelf or when arranging in a planter or basket.
  • Mist daily with plain water.
3 large glass jars filled with fake snow and white candles in a fireplace.

I gave my summer time outdoor large pickle jar lanterns a winter makeover. I removed the rope I added for the summer and in its place I tied on a garland tie. A little fake snow and a white candle keep them festive, yet simple while adding a little fireglow when it is not cold enough outside to light a fire in the fireplace.

Close up photo of 3 Christmas stockings hanging along cedar trimmed fireplace mantel

How to Hang Stockings Along a Mantel

To hang the stockings without the need of stand alone stocking holders, I use coated wire sold at craft stores.

  • I loop a piece of coated wire used for crafts or string that I cut a little longer than the depth of the mantel.
  • I loop one end onto the hanging loop of the stocking and wrap the other end of the wire around a thumb tack that is pushed in along the back of the mantel. One thumbtack in line with each stocking.
  • If using uncoated wire, make sure that the top of the fabric loop goes over the edge of the mantel so that the wire does not dig in and damage the wood mantel edge.

It is very simple and works. The wire/string is thin enough so you can place decorations right over it. I have hung Christmas stockings this way for years.

Christmas stocking with plaid cuff

I am very happy with how the mantel turned out and the fact that it didn’t take a lot of time or effort, but adds just the right holiday touch for my family and I.

3 White Christmas stockings hanging on cedar draped fireplace mantel

More Christmas Fireplace Mantel Decorating Ideas

To read more about how I created Christmas mantel decorations in my home over the years. Select the greyed-out caption at the bottom of each photo in the gallery to get to each post.

Holiday Mantel Decorating Ideas on a budget

Candles and greenery are a great start for holiday decorating and here are even more Christmas decorating ideas.

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  1. Very helpful and inspiring post. Short due to computer issues.

  2. Hi Diane,
    Thank you once again for giving me a few new ideas which seem to be multiplying by the minute! Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.


    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you Marion – Love hearing this. Thanks so much for taking the time to tell me that you are enjoying my projects and ideas. Happy Holidays :-)

  3. Your mantel looks so pretty! Love the tips about using candles. Using a piece of spaghetti to light them?! Brilliant!

  4. Patricia Burns says:

    Instead of thumb tacks use push pins–no need for wire as the hanger on the stockings will loop over the push pin and stay in place. Push pins come in various colours or I use clear push pins. I have been doing this for many years. Since I don’t have a mantle i hang the stocking from my dining room window ledge this way (Live inn old heritage home).

  5. Anne-Marie Hamilton says:

    Something about your description of bowls filled with nuts and clementines really hit me. Several years ago I bought a cute 3-sectioned Christmas dish. I put mixed nuts in the center and Cuties on either side and it looks so festive! It’s also a much healthier holiday snack than cookies or candy. Thanks for the inspiration ?

  6. I love the green/silver/white color scheme. It is simple yet so classy and heartwarming. You always come with such great ideas. Looking forward to more to come from you this season.

  7. I love the simple impact of your mantle. Really beautifully done ?

  8. Rosie Fyffe says:

    Diane, I first want to wish you and your family a blessed Christmas, rich with memories.

    I love yourChristmas living room there at the lake. I Imagine the sun going down on the lake with a flurry of snow making everything clean and pristine. I was thinking that you would decorate with some colors for your absolutely beautiful grand-daughter….you surprised me.

    I split up my ornaments from my childhood and also the ornaments my two sons grew up with on our tree, and gave them to the boys when they had a home of their own. The youngest wanted a complete ceramic nativity set that was painted my their aunt and grandmother. The family was artistic so each piece has texture with the animals, jewels and coins on the Wisemen and beautiful painting and colors of the facial details. I sent a village of houses and shops to my eldest son as he had children that would have been intrigued with the figures and lights. Is there any special Christmas decoration or ornament that will be passed down to your grand children?

  9. Diane, your living room looks so nice. Love the snowflakes on the tree and all the candles on the mantle.
    Wish I could come over for cookies and cocoa. It must smell so good too with all the fresh greens. Lovely!

  10. Absolutely gorgeous! Love the silver and green decorations.

  11. Catherine B Cooper says:

    So simple and yet so festive and lovely. Another success, Diane! Good job!