12 Festive Christmas Mantel Decoration Ideas

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The mantel is the centerpiece of a home's Christmas decor. It dictates the theme of your holiday decorations and is a place where family gathers. So don't slack on sprucing it up! Below you'll find 12 festive Christmas mantel decoration ideas that are anything but gaudy.

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1. Don't be too literal.

Every inch of your mantel doesn't have to be decked out in Santa and reindeer. Try limiting the literal holiday decor to stockings and a garland, with green accents standing on top of the mantel. Opt for a living plant as opposed to an arrangement for a more authentic (and long-lasting) look.

Get the look​: The Sill Preserved Fern Kokedama, $75

2. Embrace minimalism.

A simple Christmas tree garland and matchy-matchy stockings are refreshingly minimalistic. It's totally possible to keep with the theme of your home while still decorating for the holidays.

Get the look​: Ballard Designs Chunky Knit Stockings, $49

3. Impress with fresh greenery.

Nothing looks — and smells — quite as nice as a real garland and wreath. Go all out for a holiday party, or even just Christmas Eve with the family, with a look that transports you to the outdoors.

Get the look​: The Home Depot, 24" Live Wreath, $36.88

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4. Fresh flowers are gorgeous and unexpected.

Garland is expected on Christmas. So, to give the usual decor a twist, add something less traditional. While Christmas and flowers might not be something we associate with one another, the combination of the two here — a dark green contrasted with a bright pink — just ​works​.

Get the look​: Grandin Road Brentwood Garland, $129

5. Go for an eclectic look.

As long as there's some sort of color scheme, topping your mantel with all kinds of knickknacks is such a cool look. If you're starting anew, look for vase sets that come with two or more different but complementary vases.

Get the look​: VivaTerra Recycled Glass Balloon Vases, $89.99

6. Light taper candles.

Christmas and candles are practically synonymous, so don't forget to light a few!

Get the look​: Bolsius Long Ivory Taper Candles, $29.98

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7. Try out a color theme.

A color theme allows you to decorate to your heart's content while still maintaining a cohesive look. Pine green works great for a Christmas mantel decoration, for example.

Get the look​: Berry & Thread Stackable Glass Trees (set of 3), $150

8. Let frosty, winter artwork shine.

Allow a winter landscape to be your mantel's centerpiece. The right painting can work perfectly as a backdrop to your other decor.

Get the look​: Minted 'Morning Fog' (40" x 30"), $168

9. Create a garland out of the holiday cards you receive.

Sentimental, stylish, and super affordable. All you'll need is twine, wooden clips, and your favorite Christmas cards.

Get the look​: Lee Art Designs Twine Photo Holder, $8+

10. Hang ornaments at varying lengths.

This is another high-impact option that comes in at a low cost. To secure the ornaments, you'll want a pack of clear Command Strip Decorating Clips.

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Get the look​: The Holiday Aisle 48-Piece Christmas Ornament Set, $27.99

11. Go cactus crazy.

Live in a warmer climate? Cacti may seem a bit more natural to utilize as holiday decor than pines. Very desert chic. Top with string lights to bring this summer succulent into the winter months.

Get the look​: Succulent Market Red Graft Cactus, $7.99

12. Snowball pom-pom garlands are adorable.

This is an easy and affordable Christmas mantel decoration that is both cute and seasonal. Grab a set of matching, snow-white stockings to create a winter-inspired color theme.

Get the look​: The Honaker Home Maker Snowball Garland, $12.50+

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Kaelin Dodge is a writer/editor based out of Los Angeles, California.