TUTORIAL: EASY Steps to Take Your Christmas Mantel Garland from Basic to Beautiful!

In last week’s Christmas Home Tour (HERE), I chatted a lot about repurposing and reinventing my decor from year to year. I try to work with a few basic essentials that I can personalize each year which, 1. cuts down on cost; 2. cuts down on storage space (let’s face it though, holiday decor will always take up a ton of space!); and 3. gives me the ability to approach each season as a blank canvas for creativity. And with my repeat decor that I haul out each year, one of my favorite projects is concepting and “building out” our Christmas mantel garland. Today, I’m sharing my step-by-step process from hanging the garland, to placing that final touch before calling it “done”.

*This post is written in partnership with Maurices; as always, all opinions, concept, and creative are my own. Posts on KelleyNan.com may contain affiliate links. Click HERE for full disclosure.

EASY, DIY Christmas Garland for your Fireplace Mantel

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(all on sale for 40% off)

 

Step 1. Put Yourself in the Holiday Spirit

Light a holiday candle, put on the Christmas tunes, fix a winter cocktail, turn on Hallmark movies, and put on something festive! Whatever it is that gets you feeling those holiday vibes, do that so you set the stage to enjoy your annual seasonal decorating, instead of treating it like a chore. Over the past few years, I’ve been all about plaid in my Christmas decor and the same goes for my holiday outfits — you may have caught a glimpse of last year’s framed Christmas card in my home tour 😉 Today in my tutorial, I’m wearing Maurices — head to toe — and while I’ve dressed it up a little with this black and red plaid drapey jacket, I’m keeping it totally comfy with leggings and duck boots on the bottom. And seriously, how fun are these boots?! Since swiping a few pretties for the season, I keep revisiting and Maurices continues to host sales, on top of their already affordable pieces. NOTE: Maurices is running their Black Friday Sale and as of this morning, everything is 40% off! Currently, these boots — are on sale for  $32.94! Here are a few duck boots I saw and loved.

 

And from shackets to jackets, here are a few of my favorite new plaid releases…

 

I ordered this layered necklace and had lots of questions about it when I was wearing it a couple weeks ago in Instagram stories… more questions than what I was actually talking about, haha. It did sell out pretty quickly, but they have a few other dainty layered necklaces and bracelets here…

 

So, once you feel like the holidays, taste the holidays, and smell the holidays, what’s next?

Step 2: Invest In a Piece of Christmas Mantel Garland

There are some beautiful garlands out there, dressed in all kinds of ornaments and glitz. But, if you enjoy mixing up your Christmas decor, changing colors and themes, and personalizing your garland each year to coordinate with your motif, switching garlands each year can get expensive quickly. It also limits your own creativity with what has become one of my favorite decorating projects. Instead of opting for a fully embellished garland, I use the same piece of green garland each year, adding to it to make it something unique and special.

Christmas Fireplace Mantel Garland Tutorial

You can add as much or as little as you like, but here are some of the qualities I like for my inexpensive greenery (from Costco).

  1. It’s pre-lit. The warmth of the bulbs matches the same warmth of my Christmas tree lights and I have the same garlands strung together along the banister. While mine does have remote control settings, also, and can turn from white to colored lights, that’s an unnecessary extra.
  2. The length covers my full mantel, plus some, so I don’t have to use more than one piece.
  3. It’s full. While you can make even the skimpiest pieces of garland look great, I love that even in the years I want to be more minimalistic, I don’t have to do a lot to make it look substantial.
  4. It has different types of branches, and even a few pinecones scattered in. I think this is one of the most important keys to making your basic garland look more expensive. It has a mix of the wiry branches, rubber needled branches, and even some fluffier branches.

Bottom line — find yourself a garland that is basic, but could stand on its own, also. That being said, with the steps below, I still believe you can make even the thinnest, most sparse strands of greenery look great with a little TLC!

How to Decorate a Mantel for Christmas

Layered Gold Bracelet  (sale price: $10.14)

Step 3: Hang Your Christmas Mantel Garland

When our home was built, we had the builder install an outlet behind the tv (as well as a conduit for any cables that would need to be run, out of sight, to the inside of the bottom right cabinet. If you don’t have an easy power source, you can use wire twinkle lights that run off batteries ;). The TV is pulled out slightly so  you can see the ugly cords (*makes mental note to tidy those up, haha) and surge protector in the back.

DIY Christmas Garland for Your Fireplace Mantel

Plaid Jacket (sale price: $29.94) | Sheer Black Collared Top (sale price: $17.94) | Leggings (sale price: $9.00) | Duck Boots (sale price: $32.94) | Layered Gold Necklace (SIMILAR) (sale price: $8.70) | Layered Gold Bracelets (sale price: $10.14) | Black Glitter Hoop Earrings (sale price: $8.94)

You can run the garland straight across the mantel, or do a swoop — last year, we did a “barely there” swoop; this year, I wanted to go just a little deeper to provide easier access to the soundbar and TV receiver path. If you’re using plug-in garland, make sure your placement is on the correct side, closest to power.

How to Take Your Christmas Garland from Basic to Beautiful

I get asked often about how I “secure” my garland, and you may be disappointed in my method, but… I don’t really secure it. The base of the greenery has enough bend and sturdiness that when I center the garland and go to secure the first end, I lay it over the corner of the mantel and just bend it downward. For a little extra “security” — and another super profesh tip (haha), you can tuck some of the branches up under your tv — if you have a tv above the mantel and if it’s low enough. Here’s what the corner looks like, totally sans hooks. If you have a wooden mantel, you can lay some Command hooks on the top of the mantel to help anchor it and cover the hook with branches. We have a stone ledge, which doesn’t provide a great surface for sticky hooks, so draping and bending works perfectly well for us.

How to Anchor Christmas Garland

Step 4: Fluff Your Christmas Mantel Garland

Once your mantel garland is in place, go ahead and get it fluffed by pulling all the branches out. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but much like a Christmas tree, you just don’t want them matted down. Here’s a look of our greenery, in its most basic form, hung and ready to go.

How to Take Your Christmas Garland from Basic to Beautiful

Step 5: Place Your Stocking Hooks

Why do I place my stocking hooks after I hang the garland, when the hooks are technically underneath the garland? I like to have the greenery in place so I can determine placement of the stockings — both in location and in how close I want them to each other. Instead of using traditional stocking hooks, I use these gold clamp-style hooks so they don’t compete with the strand of garland. You can also use command hooks — again, on the mantel surface — which work way easier on wooden mantels. Even with our stone, I’ve successfully used this method and the greenery does help to hold them in place — I just wouldn’t fill them while they aren’t totally secure 😉

Favorite Simple Stocking Hooks for Under Garland

Placement of where you hang your stockings is totally personal preference. Whether you like all in the center, all the way across — evenly spaced, split on either side with the same number of stockings on each, one on one side with the rest on the other, etc., it’s totally up to you. I’ve had several placements in the past but I typically choose to hang all four of ours, close together, on the far right side.

How to Decorate Your Christmas Garland

How to Hang Mantel Garland with a TV Above the Fireplace

Step 6: Hang Any Additional Garland Strands

This is actually my first year hanging additional strands of garland but with so many options — from pom poms to bells to beads — I couldn’t resist adding some additional drapey strands.

How to Hang Multiple Garland Strands Together for One Big Garland

Again — there’s no right or wrong way and whether you want to intertwine the smaller strands within the garland, have one big swoop or smaller swoops, the choice is yours when it comes to thin accent garlands and banners.

Here’s an example of wood bead garland that I wove into the the main greenery, running along the sideboard in the breakfast nook…

Ideas for Sideboard Greenery with Wood Bead Garland

But for the mantel garland, I wanted to go drapey with two drapes for both a strand of bells and a strand of wood beads. I wanted it to be symmetrical, but not too symmetrical.

For the wood bead strand, I did a slightly shorter swag on the left with the center “anchor point” cheated slightly to that side. With the bell strand, I layered it on top and anchored it directly in the center, with even swags on both sides. Here’s a peek of what it’s looking like so far…

How to Hang and Decorate Christmas Mantel Garland

But again, just like the main strand of garland, I didn’t use any hooks or formal “anchor” — I just placed it and used the branches of the greenery to secure it. If you are worried about your strands staying, you can try twist ties to anchor them to your main garland, or even add some hooks on the mantel.

How to Layer Christmas Garlands on the Mantel

Christmas Fireplace with Garland -- A Full Titorial

Christmas Garland Embellishments with Bells & Wood Beads and more!

Step 7: Add Additional Greenery

This is the part where I think it really starts getting fun. I pointed out in Step 2 that I love my greenery for the fact it has diverse branches, already attached. But, I like adding more greenery. Depending on the vibe of the rest of your decor, you can add eucalyptus, pine… really anything! And not just that — you can mix in some live greens, too! In the past, I’ve incorporated live cedar but it tends to get dry and a little messy. It does hold its green pretty well, though. Also — this goes without saying but anything above or around your fireplace is a potential fire hazard. Keep that in mind as you decorate your mantel and only do what feels comfortable. If you have a lot of fires in your fireplace, you may want to skip the crispy greens and nix any deep draping. Here in Georgia, my favorite greens to use are live magnolia branches and leaves. This beefy, leafy tree lasts (especially if you preserve the branches, though I did not) and really makes a statement. I also added in a few springs of faux cedar that I cut off of some cheap stems from the craft store.

Greenery to Add to Your Christmas Garland

You can do full branches in here, but don’t discount the leaves, all on their own. They look great nestled in, by themselves! Again, I just shove the branches in, using the main garland to hold it and grip it in place. Don’t forget the sides of your garland either, as you’re embellishing 😉

Magnolia Leaf Garland for Christmas

Step 8: Embellish the Christmas Mantel Garland

Once your stockings are in place, your extra strands are hanging, and your greenery is set, it’s time to start incorporating some personal touches. There are tons of options from glittery picks and ornaments to fruit and flowers. To accompany my tree theme, I stuck to sprigs of blueberries — which I cut from larger branches and have used for a few years now…

Christmas Mantel Garland Embellishments

Layered Bracelet (sale price: $10.14)

I clustered some together in larger “moments” and then sprinkled a few smaller clusters throughout. Again, don’t forget the sides of your garland and the bottom of the swag. I also try to stab any picks or sprigs in in the direction of the branches, in the way they are laying and angled.

Ideas for Decorating Your Christmas Garland

If you want to go the route of ornaments/larger items, you can use a little bit of hot glue to secure them to the garland, but try to keep it to a minimum and be prepared that it may damage some of your garland branches.

How to Take Your Christmas Mantel Garland from Basic to Beautiful!

Step 9: Add the “Cherry” on Top!

Add the final touches — the last embellishment — to your almost-finished-Christmas-mantel-garland! For me, that was incorporating a few gold pears that I gilded with some Rub N Buff. (It’s so easy and I’ll be sharing just how quick and simple it is in Instagram stories!)

How to Decorate Your Mantel with Garland

I didn’t go crazy — as a matter of fact, there are only three placed throughout the entire garland.

Fireplace Mantel Garland -- A Step by Step Tutorial

Step back and enjoy your creation! If something doesn’t look quite right, you can always make a quick switch or addition; at this point, I determined one side needed a few more berries, made the adjustment, and declared the mantel garland “done!”

Christmas Mantel Garland -- A Full, Step by Step Tutorial

Soon, I’ll have a little elf helper in training 😉 Eliza has been so curious about the Christmas decor but has done really well with it all. I think she got most of it out of her system when we set up the first two trees in the dining room (HERE), when we used it as an opportunity to teach her. I couldn’t resist a little “mommy and me” matching moment with our red plaid and buffalo check 😉

How to Decorate Your Mantel with Garland

Plaid Jacket (sale price: $29.94) | Sheer Black Collared Top (sale price: $17.94) | Leggings (sale price: $9.00) | Duck Boots (sale price: $32.94) | Layered Gold Necklace (SIMILAR) (sale price: $8.70) | Layered Gold Bracelets (sale price: $10.14) | Black Glitter Hoop Earrings (sale price: $8.94)

Proof that you don’t have to spend hundreds on a statement garland — just a little time and creativity 😉 Plus, you get the benefit of having a unique creation, all your own…

EASY Christmas Fireplace Mantel Garland Tutorial

… giving you the flexibility to coordinate your tree with your garland, year after year.

Christmas Garland Tutorial from Start to Finish

As a side note, and as weird as it may seem for face masks to be considered “gifts” (#2020), I got a few of these plaid masks for the holiday season and they are so comfortable. They’re lightweight, breathable, and have adjustable ear straps — they even have a nose piece to help secure them. Here are a few other pairs with plaid prints included, perfect for the holidays.

 

Christmas Face Masks in Plaid

Are you motivated to try something new over your fireplace this year? Best of luck getting your house holiday-ready, and don’t forget to take the time to enjoy enjoy the comfort of — what has become even more sacred this year — your home.

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Fit-for-Holiday Masks (all on sale for 40% off)

 

Plaid Shackets & Jackets (all on sale for 40% off)

 

Duck Boots (all on sale for 40% off)

 

Dainty Layered Jewelry (all on sale for 40% off)

Other Christmas Posts You May Be Interested In

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26 Comments

  1. 11.22.20
    Robin said:

    Kelley,

    Your home is beautiful! I have that same garland and plan to add the magnolia leaves as you have done. So pretty! Your tree is gorgeous too! Thanks for all the tips!

    • 11.22.20

      Hi Robin, Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your sweet note! That Costco garland is the absolute best, isn’t it? I would love to see your finished product. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  2. 11.22.20
    Wendy said:

    I’m so excited to start decorating for Christmas after being inspired by your beautiful trees and mantle.

    • 11.22.20

      Hi Wendy, Thank you for your sweet note! I hope my tips have been a help to you. Have fun decorating and enjoy this special season!

  3. 11.22.20
    Kelly Roberts said:

    Kelley,
    This is such a gorgeous mantel! Thank you for breaking down the steps! I’ll be using your post to help me do my mantel, as I also bought some wood beaded garlands this year! Everything in your home is GORGEOUS, especially your little Angel 😇

    • 11.22.20
      Cathy Faison said:

      Beautiful as always! I’ve actually been in the lookout for some navy and hunter green ornaments for next year and it doesn’t seem to be the color anywhere this year so I’ll keep looking . I live that combination and it will be a color scheme for next year. Give your mom a hug from me and Merry Christmas to all of you.

      • 11.22.20

        Hi Cathy, Thank you so much for your sweet note! I was fortunate to find those colors at Hobby Lobby this year and AtHome last year. Maybe it’s a Georgia thing — haha. My mom will be thrilled to have heard from you. I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

    • 11.22.20

      Kelly, Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by! I am flattered to know that my tips have been a help to you. I think the wood bead garland is so much fun. I can’t get enough of it. Eliza and I wish you a wonderful and Merry Christmas!

  4. 11.22.20

    Kelley, your garland – the entire fireplace area – looks really great. Thanks for the sharing of how you do it!

    Love that pretty bracelet with the tiny dangly pearl bits! It’s beautiful!

    Also wanted to say how pretty you look. Cuz gals need to hear that sometimes.

    Have a wonderful holiday season coming up. Sure been a year. Ugh.

    Stay safe, stay well, stay hopeful……

    PS Have a fun little giveaway happenin’ at my lil ole blog, love to have you join in for the fun – and there are some nice gift suggestions.

    • 11.22.20

      Hi Michele, Thank you so much for your kind note. I appreciate your sweet support so much! You are so right, it’s been quite the year. I think that’s partly why so many wanted to decorate for the holidays early…we need all the sparkle we can get. Thank you for sharing your information with me. I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy every minute!

  5. 11.22.20
    Wendy Loggia said:

    I’m a children’s book editor at Random House and was excited to see the holiday books in your basket on Instagram (And, a big Dolly fan!) I’m also the author of a sweet holiday romcom and have been living in a holiday bubble this year! 🎄 … love your tutorials, and your tips. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • 11.23.20

      Hi Wendy, Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by! We do love our books and it’s been fun to add to our collection this year. Congratulations to you on your wonderful achievement. That is so exciting! I appreciate your kind words and hope your Christmas is perfect.

  6. 11.22.20
    Elise said:

    Kelley, you are a true Southern belle! You know how to decorate your home beautifully and look festive and fabulous while doing it!! Thank you so much for this detailed tutorial, it was very helpful. Happy holidays from Annapolis, Maryland.

    • 11.23.20

      Elise, Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by. I appreciate your sweet note — that is high praise indeed. I am glad you can use some of the tips! I hope you and yours have a very Merry Christmas!

  7. 11.22.20
    Cecilia from Georgia said:

    I have enjoyed hanging out with you on IG and your blog as you transform your home again into a Christmas spectacular! I have a big beam that we had made into a mantel so it is solid as a rock. I have glued, stapled, nailed and wired decorations to the beast and then have to pull all the mechanics out after Christmas. I love being able to staple things the most;). I’m just saying!

    • 11.23.20

      Hi Cecilia, You are the sweetest and I appreciate your kind support so much! I love that you have a mantel that is that substantial. I imagine your finished product is fantastic! I hope you enjoy every bit of this special season. xoxo

  8. 11.23.20
    Colleen said:

    Hi Kelley! Your home decor, Christmas trees and garland are just gorgeous! Thank you for all the tips… you make it look so easy! We have a mantle in our home, and I’ve really enjoyed decorating it the last few years! I use greenery with pine cones, shimmery gold trees, and our dark brown reindeer stocking hooks. (It’s like a little woodland forest!) It was so nice seeing your smiling face in the photos. You have such an upbeat, positive attitude, and that comes through in your words and photos. Happy Thanksgiving (and Merry Christmas early!). 🙂

    • 11.23.20

      Hi Colleen, Thank you so much for stopping by! I really appreciate your sweet note. Your mantel sounds gorgeous. I love little woodland scenes. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a very Merry Christmas! xoxo

  9. 11.25.20
    Sarah Loraine Sherman said:

    I love your outfit! For some reason I can’t get the link to the plaid top to work–can you list the link? I searched on their site but couldn’t find it either 🙂

  10. 12.3.20
    JP said:

    Your home and photos are just beautiful and very inspirational! Merry Christmas to you and your sweet baby!

    • 12.7.20

      Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and leaving this sweet note. I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas season! xoxo

  11. 12.3.20
    Cindy said:

    I just want to say how much I love your posts. You are so gifted and I’m thankful you share your tips so freely. Your mantel looks stunning and it’s refreshing that you’re very down-to-earth with your purchases and keeping things price conservative. You and your daughter’s matching outfits are adorable and fun!

    • 12.7.20

      Cindy, Thank you so much for your kind note. You have truly made my day! I hope some of my tips have been useful to you. Have a wonderful Christmas season! xoxo

  12. 12.8.20
    Carrie Schmitt said:

    Kelley, You have a gift! I love how you make things beautiful then share step by step with us how to do the same. It gives me a road map (and some hope) that I, too, can do the same. Could I ask you to share the source for your two garlands – wood beads and bells? Thank you!

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