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A Christmas mantel can be personal and meaningful as well as beautiful. Try making your family and other personal items central to your mantelpiece this year.

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What’s more Christmasy than a decorated mantel? At the darkest time of the year, we gather our family and friends together and celebrate–and often, if you have a fireplace, that celebration will certainly happen around the fire.

And sure, we could suggest all kinds of ideas for your Christmas mantelpiece decorations, but in the end, I think it’s the best place to celebrate you and your family. The mantel is often the focus of a living room, and it’s where you have the best space to display your family’s achievements and memories for the year, so every guest can have a look.

But how do you make the best out of that limited space to have stylish and personal mantel decor? Here are some ideas and tips.

Christmas mantel decorations: family first

Print a few good family photos you took during the year–you summer trip, an important event or moment in your family’s life. You can get cheap frames at your local craft store, dollar store or second-hand store. Bring the kids in to decorate the frames with glitter, stars, snowflakes and other Holiday-themed items.

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These photos should be the focus point of your mantel. After all, you want people to look at them and see what your family’s done over the year! To do this, you should keep the garlands and other decorations light. A few candles around the photos, maybe a small garland below the edge of the mantel, but don’t overdo it. Keep it light and playful so that the interest remains around your photos.

Personal objects that remind you of what’s important

However, maybe you’d prefer to put up some objects rather than photos. A prize someone has won. A trophy from a team sports competition. Other objects that symbolize victories and changes for you and your family over the year, like overcoming illness, remembering a departed friend or family member, a promotion or change in profession, the birth of a child.

As long as it has meaning to you, you can put anything up on your mantel. After all, it’s your family you’re celebrating, not anybody else’s. Keeping the reminder there during the holidays will let you meditate and reflect upon the last twelve months and the twelve months to come.

mantelpiece decor personal objects

There are other ways to celebrate your family as well. One traditional way is to hang stockings for every member of the family. But instead of giving sweet treats and small toys, think about putting meaningful objects in the stocking, like a thank-you note for all the hard work done over the year, or an encouraging word filled with love. Make it personal, and it’ll become a beloved family tradition.

Joyous decor

After you’ve chosen the kind of family display you’ll put up, you can think about the more decorative aspects of the mantel.

What is your Christmas mantel decorating theme, if you have any? Are you working with a specific color palette or are you just taking it as it goes? Use the mantel as a way to reinforce and repeat the patterns you put up elsewhere in your home.

Contemporary Family Room by Toronto Interior Designers & Decorators Chic Decor & Design, Margarida Oliveira

The mantel is the perfect place to hang extra garlands and put extra candles. Don’t be too symmetrical, either: perfectly symmetrical mantels are a little boring. Some like to keep it minimal, while others enjoy the explosion of color and light. Usually, it goes with your personal style.

The only rule

The only rule here: have fun. A decor you don’t find attractive will annoy you, and, well, being annoyed at Christmas isn’t really the way I’d want to do it.

So let your creativity run wild, bring the kids in, and make this the first of many beautiful, family-oriented Christmas mantels.

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Anabelle Bernard Fournier

Anabelle is a freelance writer, writing teacher and blogger. She spends a lot of time at home, so she likes to make sure that it's cozy and nice, especially in her reading nook. In her free time, Anabelle knits, walks and learns how to write stories.