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5 Easy Mantel Decor for Christmas Ideas

Looking for mantel decor for Christmas ideas? Wait until you see how my thrift store mantel looks all decked out for the holidays in the dining room.


So I FINALLY finished my thrift store mantel that I found months ago.

If you recall, I stripped the wood with oven cleaner. And while I considered keeping it unfinished, the molding on it isn’t all that spectacular so I decided to paint it.

I had this grand idea of painting it black first and then doing a few different coats of white milk paint on top that would chip off so you’d see some black and fresh wood beneath.

It was a great plan, but not well executed. In hindsight, I should have tested what I wanted to do before actually doing it. Had I done that, I would have gone about refinishing it much differently.

But you know how it is sometimes, you can see the result and you just want to get it done.

Yeah, don’t do that.

Anyway, because I didn’t like the result, I wound up painting the whole thing with mineral paint that I had on hand.

And while it looked better, the paint pulled a little too much gray for my dining room which feels warmer.

*Face in the palm and shaking my head.

So I ordered Old White in Annie Sloan chalk paint and got back to work.

To start over, I stripped the piece again but was unable to get all of the paint off. And at this point, I just wanted to wrap it up!

So I just said to heck with it and painted a few coats of Old White over it, sanded it down to distress it, and used a light wax on it to seal it, then called it a day.

Since it’s finally done, we installed it in the dining room and I just decorated it for Christmas.

And it looks AMAZING!

Wait until you see the easy mantel decor for Christmas that I used! It takes minutes to do and looks really elegant.

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Why I Installed a Thrift Store Mantel in the Dining Room Without a Fireplace

So it might seem a little strange to add a mantel where there’s no fireplace but hear me out.

The dining room is a good size but we need circulation room around the dining room table. On one end of my dining room is my gorgeous black china cabinet and hutch that I love.

So there isn’t much room on the other end of the dining room table for a second storage piece.

Because the wall looked empty, I knew I wanted to do something but wasn’t sure what.

Chris and I have been hitting the thrift store a lot lately and came across this wood fireplace mantel that was selling for $100.

fireplace mantel we found at the thrift store near me
Fireplace mantel we found thrifting

We thought about it in the store, didn’t think we had a good spot for it, and left without getting it. I don’t know what we were thinking because shortly after we arrived home, I realized it would look great on that empty wall in the dining room.

It was too late to go back and the store wouldn’t reopen for a few days so we waited until the following weekend. If it was still there, it was meant to be.

We arrived promptly when the store opened and thankfully, it was still there!

So we snagged it.

I didn’t love the orange wood finish on it. It was a little dark for the dining space with my china cabinet, dining room set, and small wood dresser from Vermont.

But I knew I’d do SOMETHING with it.

unfinished thrift store mantel

Honestly, I wish it looked OK after stripping it down to bare wood but it just didn’t. Someone added molding to it that didn’t look amazing all stripped down which is why I wound up painting it.

Yadda yadda yadda, here we are back in the dining room with a mantel that adds some detail, texture, and dimension to the space without overwhelming it.

Down the road, we’d really like to add moldings to the walls but just don’t have the time for it any time soon.

So for now, we love the mantel!

Wait until you see how it looks all prettied up for Christmas.

Thrift store mantel painted black and distressed before coating with white paint
The black looked OK on its own but was too much with my black china cabinet and hutch

5 Easy Mantel Decor Ideas for Christmas

With the mantel all finished and styled for the holidays, I love the result and wanted to share it with you.

Because these ideas would be perfect for any fireplace mantel, particularly if you have a TV or other work of art above it.

Here’s how I decorated my thrift store mantel.

five minute mantel decor for christmas ideas

Above the Mantel Decor Ideas

Depending on how you decorate above your fireplace, this post is based on having a large TV, mirror, or other artistic piece attached to the wall above it.

I love the layered look of art, frames, and mirrors sitting directly on the mantel, but I didn’t do that in my dining room because I was concerned about someone knocking into it when circulating around the dining room.

Thus, I opted to anchor something to the wall instead.

I found this beautiful vintage-looking gold mirror that is the perfect size to sit above the mantel. And I chose to go with a mirror so you’d get the reflection of that incredibly gorgeous crystal chandelier.

close up of thrift store mantel finished with chirstmas greenery, battery operated candles in vintage candleholders, antique gold bells in cozy farmhouse dining room with crystal chandelier

Layering the Fireplace Mantel for Christmas

Whenever I decorate a table, my china cabinet hutch, shelves, etc., I decorate in layers.

Layers create texture, dimension, and interest in what could be a very 1-dimensional boring space.

To decorate with layers, I add foliage, flowers, and other decor so the space has some personality. If you only decorate with one item per se, the mantel will look flat and lifeless.

As much as I wanted to layer the mantel, I also yearned for simplicity without a lot of decor that could be bumped off when walking around the dining room.

Christmas greenery for the christmas mantel in the dining room

Adding Christmas Greenery to the Mantel

Before mantel decor for Christmas in the dining room, I started with two gorgeous real touch garlands that look authentic and add softness to the hard lines.

One garland would not have been enough, so two worked well to get the draping effect off the ends of the mantel.

To cover the center more where the garlands overlap, I tucked in an additional branch that I had laying around.

If you plan to use fresh greens instead of faux, learn how to stop the needle drop with my free guide and keep your greens looking fresher longer.

So now it looks full and alive with Christmas greenery. But needs a little more to cozy it up.

battery operated candles on the mantel layered with christmas greenery and twinkle lights

Adding Vintage Mantel Decor for Christmas

My dining room has a rustic glam feel to it.

And because I love my crystal chandelier with gold accents as the focal point of the room, I chose a less is more approach to the mantel to keep it neutral.

Instead of filling the mantle up with all kinds of Christmas balls, natural decor, and other items, I created a vintage look with gold accents and soft lighting.

dining room crystal chandlier close up

To get some glitz without decorating with a bunch of Christmas ornaments or other small chachkis, I used these pretty vintage candlestick holders on each side of the mirror and love the look!

They add just enough shine without in your face glitter and tinsel.

In addition to the vintage candlestick holders, I hung these pretty vintage gold bells on each side of the mantel.

They add a soft neutral touch to the fireplace mantel and soften the lines even more without being in your face Christmas.

So it’s the perfect look to decorate for the holidays before Thanksgiving if you wanted to get started a little earlier this year.

christmas mantel decor ideas with mirror, battery operated candles, vintage candle holders, christmas greenery and twinkle lights
close up of the thrift store mantel decor for christmas ideas with norfolk garland, vintage candlestick holders, battery operated candles and vintage gold bells with antique gold mirror above mantel

Create a Mood With Lighting

I love the soft glow of Christmas lights both inside and outside my home during the holidays so the mantel has two different types of lighting for the holidays.

Since I wanted to use taper candles in the vintage candleholders, I opted to go with battery-operated candles that have a timer. It is set and forget, creates a cozy glow when the sky gets dark, and won’t burn the house down.

In addition to battery-operated candles, I also wrapped these pretty white LED fairy lights that also work on battery.

These also have a timer so it completes my simple, set-and-forget approach to the mantel for Christmas.

christmas dining room with white poinsettia centerpiece in a brass ice bucket with crystal chandelier, lenox, cedar branch placemats, and thrift store mantel with christmas greenery and vintage bells in farmhouse dining room

And that’s it! I may do more with it as I decorate other rooms in my home and get more Christmas decor out of storage, but for now, I love this simple look on the mantel for the holidays.

Thanks so much for hanging out with me in the dining room while I decorate the mantel for Christmas.

And… If you’re catching up on blog posts you may have missed, be sure to sign-up to get my newest posts via email to stay up to date with everything that’s happening here on the blog and more.

Want to Learn How to Decorate With Fresh Greens for the Holidays?

Sign up here to get my email and get a discount on my ebook, 15 Easy Ways to Decorate With Fresh Greens for the Holidays that offers beautiful, budget-friendly, and sustainable holiday decorating inspiration using fresh greens from the landscape.

This 40-page guide is full of simple DIY holiday decorating ideas that includes how to cut, care for, and design with fresh greens, as well as tips to purchase and incorporate faux greens with your holiday decorating style to create a cozy, beautiful, and organic vibe.

From porch styling to cozy centerpiece and tablescape inspiration, wait until you try these budget-friendly holiday decorating ideas using fresh greens for every room in your home.

hanging planter for Christmas on the front porch

Let’s See What My Friends Found Thrifting This Month and How They Are Using Them

My good friends Kim and Jennifer also went thrifting this month to decorate their home and garden spaces.

Wait until you see what they found!

My good friend Kim from Shiplap and Shells shared 14 beautiful ways to decorate with vintage decor for the holidays.

From thrift store Christmas ornaments to greenery, baskets and crocks, wait until you see how Kim’s cottage-style home looks for the holidays!

mantel decor ideas for christmas with vintage christmas ornaments in dough bowl with christmas greenery for the holidays on a mantel

My good friend Jennifer from Cottage on Bunker Hill shared some seriously good budget-friendly decorating ideas for Christmas with her thrift store finds.

She’s been going on lots of adventures around New England and sharing the cool things she found for her garden and home.

So wait until you see how she decorates her home for the holidays on a budget!

close up of affordable Christmas decorating ideas with gold bells, chrstmas greenery and other decor ideas

The 10 Days of Christmas

Did you catch the 10 days of Christmas where my friends and I shared daily inspiration to get you psyched up and ready for the holidays?

From Christmas decorating ideas to gift-wrapping ideas, these posts have you covered with lots of creative and budget-friendly ideas.

In case you missed it, you can catch the 10 Days of Christmas lineup here:

easy mantel decor for chirstmas ideas with christmas greenery, candles and fairy lights.
close up of 4 candle advent wreath lit with winter greens, pine cones and red berries in farmhouse dining room with black china cabinet and hutch and christmas decor

Looking For More Christmas Decorating Ideas?

Wait until you see these holiday decorating, entertaining, and food ideas to create a cozy home for Christmas.

black labrador retriever dog in front of roaring fire on Christmas - First Christmas in Our Home Tour

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close up of mantel decorated for Christmas

Thank you so much for following along.

Enjoy a beautiful day! xo

Stacy Ling

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Home and Garden Blogger Stacy Ling cutting zinnia flowers in her cottage garden with wood picket fence in front of garden shed

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12 Comments

  1. I love how this turned out, Stacy! And good call on the mirror — the chandelier looks great reflected in it! I bet it is particularly beautiful at night when the chandelier is lit!

  2. Love how this turned out. It adds architectural interest to the room. I would just either paint the inside a nice taupe and another option is those small wood slices in various sizes for texture and dimension.

    1. Thank you!!! So funny you say that – we are actually thinking about adding stone to pull from other areas of our house. But I love that look too!

  3. I can’t even believe how beautifully your mantel turned out Stacy. The dining room is such a perfect place for this piece.