classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas

by | Nov 19, 2021 | Decorating, Holiday, Winter | 37 comments

I don’t typically have plans for exactly how I’ll decorate when the holiday season rolls around.  I just start working with my things and see what inspires me and what Ideas spring up.  I find that I end up in more interesting decorating territory if I let it all happen organically.  And, that’s exactly what happened as I started decorating our living room mantel with a classic Christmas and slightly southern feel.

It started when I decided to change out the art above the fireplace.  Both of the paintings I’ve had hanging over the mantel had more of a spring/summer feel, so I shopped around the house to see what might be a good seasonal alternative.  I tried a mirror and a few other things, but nothing was quite right in shape or scale.  On a whim, I grabbed the antique Jenny Lind portrait from the guest room and tried it out.  It actually worked!  (I bought mine at a local antique store, but HERE is one that is almost exactly the same.)

From there, I hung four faux mounted stag antlers around it to make the width visually work a little better with the width of the mantel.  I added a couple of resin topiaries, some antique plates.  Now it was just time to add some seasonal greenery and hang stockings to dress this classic Christmas mantel.

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

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I hung a faux cedar garland around the portrait and dressed it up with a little bit of velvet ribbon and some small brass bells.  I got this ribbon at Hobby Lobby, but HERE is a similar one on Etsy.

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

I love how this small change gave this room a very different feel and this was all stuff I already owned.

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

For the mantel, I used dried hydrangeas from my garden, dried orange slices (you can find that recipe HERE), and some faux greenery that is from all over the place and collected over several years.  I think one of the keys to making faux greenery look good is to mix it with natural/real/dried elements and to mix in a lot of different textures and colors.  I typically hack artificial greens into pieces, so they are easier to work with and mix.  This classic Christmas mantel ended up having a bit of a southern vibe with the addition of faux magnolia leaves, the orange slices, and even some gray whelk shells I collected at Isle of Palms this summer.

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

The addition of the whelk shells came out of my desire to add a little bit of blue to this classic Christmas mantel arrangement.  I grabbed a shell from a group in a bowl to see if it would work and I loved it. Even though shells say “summer” more than “Christmas” when it comes to traditional decorative use, it adds to the natural and collected feel of the garland.

 classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

Because we have cats that might be tempted to climb the stockings, I hang them with nails instead of weighted stocking hangers.  The nails are just hidden under the greenery.

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

One of my tricks, too, when mixing faux greenery is to use greens that aren’t specific to Christmas.  I added faux rosemary, olive leaves, and magnolia to the more classic evergreens on this Christmas mantel.  I can then use the greens to fill out wreaths or arrangements throughout the year.

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

I just learned that the Cozy Knit Stockings from Crate & Barrel are back this year!  I purchased mine on clearance a few years ago and they haven’t been available since.  I’m asked about them every year, so I wanted to share that they are back!

I bought the gold bells from Target last year, but they are no longer available.  I tied two different colors of ribbons to the stockings to tie in the blues and greens from the mantel arrangement.

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

I like how the ribbons and bells are simple, but add a little festive touch and visual interest to the cream knit stockings.

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

I think this classic Christmas mantel is my favorite of all of the mantels I’ve decorated so far!  I like it so much that I’m going to carry this vibe onto the Christmas tree and other Christmas decorations.

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

Violet is loving that the fireplace is turned on again and her bed is back in front of it.  She basks in the warmth most of the day.

classic christmas mantel | decorating ideas | miss mustard seed

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I hope my classic Christmas mantel offers some inspiration to you this year.

How do you generally decorate for the holidays?  Do you do the same thing each year or change it up?  Do you go into it with a plan or let things happen organically?

37 Comments

  1. CathyR

    Violet is the perfect prop!
    You have a beautiful home no matter the season

    Reply
  2. Irene Kelly

    Love your mantle. You like the liberty bell shape while I love the jungle bell shape. And 2 yrs ago I found silver ones @ Target in their Threshold line. So bought many boxes of 16.Now this yr they are in a brass finish so bought many boxes of those. I tie one or two to most of my packages They are so festive and the fact that they jingle makes them even more so ! ! Keep your ideas coming !

    Reply
  3. Bettsi Ledesma

    I can’t stop looking at this beautiful mantel! I love every single thing including Violet- she’s the perfect decorative touch. The Jenny Lind portrait is the stunning focal point and every other choice supports it beautifully. Thank you so much for the inspiration, Marian. Love it!

    Reply
  4. Peggy M Hunt

    Is it just me or does that portrait resemble you a little bit ?

    I LOVE this mantel so much..it’s my favorite one I’ve seen. The colors, the blue shells, antlers, woodsy greenery, cedar, ribbons..it’s stunning. You definitely got your creative juices flowing properly on this one.
    Great job,Marian !!!

    Reply
    • Lenore

      I thought there was a resemblance and
      that it was a relative.

      Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Thank you!

      Reply
    • Debra Schwicht

      I thought the Jenny Lind looked like Marian, too! Didn’t recognize who it was and first thought maybe Marian had painted a self-portrait (a “selfie”😀) in a traditional style!

      Reply
  5. Kim

    Hey, I want to point out that your garland around the portrait needs to be cut in half so that both sides of the picture have cedar hanging in the SAME direction, whichever one you prefer (straight or splayed). Then you aren’t stuck with one side looking straight and the other side looking wonky because it is going against gravity. Or, you could have both sides looking splayed if that is what you prefer. Traditionally garlands that go around something start at a center top point and then are hung in the same direction from top to bottom on either side. This works for both real and fake greenery and adds a neater look. You can easily reconnect the strands if you need a longer piece for another application.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, I had considered that, but I sort of liked the look of it being a little unruly. It looked a little more natural to me, but you certainly could follow your suggestion if you want both sides to lay the same.

      Reply
  6. Meg

    Simply stunning. I follow a lot of home decor blogs, but you never fail to set the bar. Beautiful, warm and original!

    Reply
  7. Margo

    I made a cat bed using the pattern you posted earlier in the year. It came out very well with one exception, our cat will not use it. She would not get near it and when my husband picked her up and put her in it she flew out of it in a flash! So much for that!
    Your room looks lovely and inviting.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Try putting it inside of a cardboard box in a sunny spot or in her favorite spot. That might work to get her smell on it.

      Reply
    • Jean

      It took a few months for our cat MacGuyver to “approve” of the recommended bedding. I put it on my work table and he finally came around! He gets tucked and snuggly inside the curved sides and sleeps until he gets too hot (because it sits in the sun in the morning). It was a fun item to make, for sure! agree with Marian – a good warm spot will do the trick.

      Reply
  8. Rita

    This is so pretty. It’s simple but very classic and expensive looking. I don’t change a lot each year, but change out a few things. Each year I think it gets more and more simple.

    Reply
  9. Terry

    I tend to get stuck in the same old thing but you have really helped me with that. Wondering how to hang things like the antlers so can remove without leaving marks?

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Oh, I just use little nails and will fill if the hole is it’s visible. There are lightweight enough that you could use 3M adhesive hangers, but I’ve had things fall and break with those, so I trust a nail more!

      Reply
    • Pat

      I agree with the garland staying continuous around the portrait. Looks more natural! Absolutely love the return of a gold gram over your mantel!!! So rich looking rather than white to match the woodwork. Love the large oval also as it softens all those straight lines in a room. So glad to see velvet ribbon and let the bells be the shine!👏👏👏

      Reply
  10. Sherry

    I am concerned when you take down the antlers, leaving a nail hole. Will the picture you normally hang over fireplace cover the antler nail holes? Lovely natural display…

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      Yeah, I am pretty sure it will. If it doesn’t, though, I’ll just put on a little spackle and a dab of paint. I do it all the time!

      Reply
  11. Jo Wolfe

    I’m on your side Marion, like the unruly look . God gives us each eyes and we are blessed to choose what touches our hearts and souls. No wrong way.

    Reply
  12. Jenn Anderson

    I really like how the colors all came together in your decor and I like all the little details that you put together with the bells and different types of ribbon and natural elements.

    Reply
  13. Ellen

    Mantle: cape or cloak. Mantel: shelf over a fireplace. I really admire your writing style, and you have a real gift for communicating ideas. However, I see this mistake all the time. Sorry, but it is just the (almost) English teacher in me.

    Reply
    • Miss Mustard Seed

      Oh my goodness, Ellen, thank you! I have never been the best speller, but I’ve really worked on it over the years to learn and improve. I have been spelling mantel wrong for years all over my blog and social media! I know now and I appreciate you taking the time to teach me! 💙

      Reply
  14. Peg

    I find it interesting that you start out saying you were going for an organic look and then use the word faux or artificial no less than 8 times! As a person that doesn’t use faux decorations, I was disappointed. There are very few truly organic only ideas out there.

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I think we’re using different definitions of the word organic. I mean allowing the process to evolve naturally and intuitively, not in the sense that all of the materials are certified organic. I wish I could use all fresh or dried greens, but this house is just too dry. I used to use all live greens in our PA house when we had hot water heat. I tried that the first year in this house and they were brown and crisp in just a couple of days. I had to start incorporating artificial greenery in my Christmas decor.

      I would use fresh if I could! It’s definitely my preference, but not practical in this house.

      Reply
  15. Cynthia Johnson

    So beautiful Marian and very sophisticated!

    Reply
  16. Margarita W.

    I LOVE your mantel! It’s beautiful Marian. At this point in my life I do shop around my attic (where I store most of my holiday decor) and try to change it up a little every year. You have inspired me to add a few of your elements but I’d have to brace myself and go to Michael’s I don’t know if have it in me since I have to prepare for hosting Thanksgiving.

    Reply
  17. Addie

    Oh!!!! My goodness!!!! This IS the MOST BEAUTIFUL!!! You really outdid yourself this time…welllll….always!!!
    There is defiantly a vibe going on with this and I love it!!I
    I like to switch things up from year to year…just a bit!!!
    No pressure……but I cannot wait to see how the tree come out!!! I like the garland wonky!!!

    Reply
  18. Kidron

    Beautiful! I absolutely love how you incorporate antiques into your decor. (Especially ones that we think are beautiful, but are afraid to buy because we don’t have a vision for using them…aka Jenny Lind.)

    Didn’t realize garland hanging was so controversial. Good thing I don’t post my decorating, lol!

    Reply
  19. Connie Maddox

    Could not be anymore perfect than this! I love every single idea you incorporated into this years mantel. And admire how to respond to rude comments with so much grace.

    Reply
  20. mary m

    I totally get your version of organic/narueal.. A New Zealand friend has always incorporated real flowers and silk flowers in an arrangement of flowers. Why not? I have a succlent in an adorable cat pot that my daughter bought for me when she was young. She was so proud of it because it had a broken ear and was a bargain. Back to the succlent. It tended to grow towards the back of the pot leaving a space in the front. I went to hobby lobby and bought a very small fake succlent of the same persuasion and stuck it in the front. I will never tell. lol

    Reply
  21. Claire

    Marion, this is sheer perfection. I love the way you use the things you already have. It inspires me to be creative with what I have instead of buying silly throw away decorations because that is what I can afford. I think this mantle may be one of my favorite posts ever of yours. By the way, my granddaughter’s name is Violet.

    Reply
  22. Diane M Lanford

    I love looking at my favorite ornaments and decorations. I love how you put the antlers up. How did you put those up?

    Reply
    • Marian Parsons

      I just hung them up on small nails. There is a little hole on the back of each mount to sit on a nail and they are pretty lightweight.

      Reply
  23. Teddee Grace

    Really pretty. I also like mixing faux greens for additional texture and a more realistic look. Definitely an antebellum look with the Jenny Lind portrait as a foundation. Lots of detail. I like it.

    Reply
  24. BeverlyO

    For all holiday decorating I generally do what you did – use the different things I already have. Every now and again I will add something new but it might be simple. I love the look you created and the soft feel of it. Beautiful!

    Reply
  25. Theresa

    Marian, it’s just perfect! Love the portrait and the natural greens with the artificial is such a great idea. Your home is festive and so classic. Just love this mantle!

    Reply

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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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