How to Decorate a Fireplace Mantel for Thanksgiving

Make your home extra cozy this Thanksgiving. Here are our top tips for beautiful mantel decor.

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Cozy Brick fireplace with fall decorations and candles Thanksgiving mantelRon and Patty Thomas/Getty Images

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.

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.

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

ThanksgivingNika Art/Shutterstock

Light It Up

The easiest way to make a dramatic impact is candlelight. How many candles 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.

Think about staggering heights with different candle holders. And don’t worry if they don’t all match. Hit them all with a seasonally appropriate paint color, taking care not to paint any surface that will come in contact with an open flame. Let dry, then top with candles.

MantelKristen Prahl/Shutterstock

Frame It Out

Another mantel decorating option is to add dimension 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 this Thanksgiving.

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.

A similar take is to use a variety of picture frames—without glass or photos inside. For a big, bold graphic impact, 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 bold 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 work 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.


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.

Plus, learn how to make a gorgeous wreath from things you already have in your yard.

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.