How to Decorate a Fireplace Mantel for Thanksgiving

Here are our top three tips for terrific seasonal mantel decorating.

MantelKristen Prahl/Shutterstock

It’s the season of abundance, and while Thanksgiving dinner tends to be the centerpiece to the holiday, there’s also a fun opportunity to reflect gratitude and abundance in your home décor.

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The fireplace mantel is an especially great place to make a show, owing to its small footprint that nonetheless creates a big impression. Plus, it doesn’t have to break the bank to really shift the look of your room. Take some ideas from these 22 crucial projects to get done before hosting Thanksgiving.

Here are a few ways you can master mantel decorating in your own home:

Mantel Decorating Tip #1: Light It Up

The easiest way to make a dramatic impact is candlelight—you knew that. It’s so flattering to our faces, too. Take those truths and think big. How many can you arrange on the mantle (without creating a fire hazard)? Another option: Invest in collection of inexpensive battery-operated beauties that’ll create the same effect, sans fire. For more lighting ideas in your home, consider these cute dining room chandeliers.

Think about staggering heights with different holders. And don’t worry if they don’t all match. Hit them all with a seasonally appropriate metallic spray paint, taking care not to paint any surface that will come in contact with an open flame. Let dry, then top with all-white candles. Done. That afternoon project will take you through to the new year.

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Mantel Decorating Tip #2: Frame It Out

Another mantel decorating option is to add shimmer and shine with glass. Place mirrors of various sizes and shapes on the mantel and rest them against the wall—and each other—to create a dazzling display that will reflect back the gratitude and life you celebrate within your walls. Photos of loved ones, past photos of holiday celebrations, or printables with holiday-related sayings could all fill the frames for a mosaic of gratitude. Need more inspiration? Check out these 10 stylish Thanksgiving decorating ideas.

A similar take is to use a variety of picture frames—without glass or photos inside. For a big, bold graphic impact, you could paint each frame the same color, layer them on the mantel, and allow the texture to do the work, creating an eye-catching geometric design. Or, go wild with color, texture, shape and size. Layer them together and even place a few mementos inside selected frames as an art installation—such as a favorite vase filled with dried or fresh flowers inside the frame. Consider it a real-life still life! Infusing some kid art or sculpture also works well with this option.

Thrift shops are a great source for frame options, as you’ll find a variety of styles and shapes for can’t-beat-them prices, and you won’t feel guilty painting them up, either.

Mantel Decorating Tip #3: Bring the Outside In

Welcome nature into your home! Spruce tops could stand sentry on either side of the mantle/fireplace and give off an inviting scent. Small gourds sprinkled among framed photos of the people and places you love best add texture and color. Or get homey with a kid-made garland: Leaves cut from construction paper and strung with yarn. Magnolia-leaf garlands are considered a sign of welcome, and deer antlers could add a rustic, modern farmhouse touch.

Learn how to make a gorgeous wreath from things you already have in your yard.