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

It’s just about time to launch this year’s Christmas annual Christmas Home Tour and right after questions about how I add ribbon to our Christmas trees (see that full tutorial HERE), one of the next most popular questions is how I embellish my mantel garland. Today, we’re gonna break it down, step by step with the exact process I go through to achieve the final look for our Christmas mantel garland.

Each year, I do a lot of decor repurposing and I try to work with what I have to reinvent my decor from year to year. I work with a few basic essentials that I can personalize each year which, 1. cuts down on costs; 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.

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Before we get into it, you can find some of my latest Christmas highlights in the annual home tours of the past few years…

And here’s an idea of how I embellish my same base strand of Christmas mantel garland each year — similar but different…

Once you have the garland, let’s get to it!

Step 1. Put Yourself in the Holiday Spirit

Obvi 😉 Light a holiday candle, put on the Christmas tunes, fix a winter cocktail, turn on Hallmark movies, or put in your AirPods with a Christmas audiobook! 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.

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.

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). I will recommend this one as a great quality and value every single time.

  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.
EASY, DIY Christmas Garland for your Fireplace Mantel

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!

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.

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. You could try hooks like THIS for more assurance 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. They come in a few finish colors. You can also use command hooks — again, on the mantel surface — which work way easier on wooden mantels. Even with our thick 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

BTW — we use the same stockings each year (a mix and match batch of neutrals I ordered individually) and several are no longer available. BUT, Dave’s (which I LOVE!) came back this year HERE and THIS faux alpaca fur stocking is new and super similar in style. THIS snow leopard stocking is almost identical to mine and I also love THIS boucle stocking from West Elm this year.

How to Hang Mantel Garland with a TV Above the Fireplace

I also often get questions on the gold tub on my hearth and it’s actually a party bucket that’s earned a permanent position on the fireplace as a log holder.

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.

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.

**I just found a cheap cheap 6′ strand of bell garland at Target, on sale for $7 HERE. I don’t know how long it will last, but it’s awesome to layer in! I would purchase a few strands to layer.

For the wood bead garland, I found 24′ of natural wood bead strands HERE on Amazon for a good price. I also love THIS 72′ feet of dark gold beaded garland from McGee & Co. for just $18 HERE.

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

White Jar (15″) | Gold Tub | Coffee Table | Fireplace Screen

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 like live silver dollar eucalyptus. 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

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 — you can see me in live action in THIS Instagram reel! Literally, I took THESE inexpensive pears from Amazon and rubbed THIS on them. Easy, peasy. This year, I’m using the gold pears as the centerpiece in the dining room with gold ornaments!

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

Looking back at my little elf here makes my heart hurt — I can’t believe how grown she is compared to this season!

How to Decorate Your Mantel with Garland

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

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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  1. 11.22.20
    Robin said:


    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:

    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!

  13. 11.16.21
    Brenda said:

    BEAUTIFUL!!You’re one of my favorites! I love your creativity for every season and your photography is exceptional! Your daughter’s room is still one of my favorites!💕

    • 11.16.21

      Brenda, Thank you so much for your sweet note. I thank you for taking the time to visit and wish you a wonderful holiday season!

  14. 12.7.23
    Leann said:

    I love, love, the mantel! Your home is lovely!

    • 12.7.23

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by, Leann, and for your sweet comment. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas season!