Light up your fireplace this Christmas

how to style your mantlepiece for Christmas
Helen Stone,-Interiors Writer

Be creative with your hearth and create a magical fireside story filled with joy and wonder

A fireplace is the year-round focal point of a room and so worthy of some special attention at Christmas. Don’t let the tree steal its thunder – the two can work together beautifully with the fire still shining brightly.

While the mantepiece is the natural display space, think bigger and consider the whole caboodle from hearth to ceiling. Decorations clustered in the hearth and those at a higher level will balance the full height of your tree, while a central shelf or mantepiece is the perfect platform for climbing up from and draping down, encouraging an organic feel to your decorating.

Mantelpiece evergreen decorations

Forest bathing

Greenery is a big Christmas favourite. A small garland can easily get lost so go big and go wild. Spruce and eucalyptus will bring scent as well as structure while bud vases with mini arrangements will add height, working beautifully with candles in between. Keep building, layer upon layer, finishing with shaped tree decorations for punctuation.

There are no rules for this kind of arrangement. Neat-freaks might insist on symmetry but an organic feel with objects and decorations arranged by eye, playing with different heights and shapes, can often deliver a more exciting finish.

Firseide decorations

Fireside companions

The growing trend for room decorations encourages one or two larger pieces by the fireside to help cement your theme. The natural world is a great source of inspiration with perching and wading birds in a range of materials, but any tall arrangement sat on the hearth can be effective. Cluster tall candlesticks here or vases of winter berries or spruce fronds dressed with baubles. In a family home, fireside elves can take pride of place, waiting to welcome the main man on the big day.

Bethan Harwood (@johnlewis_Bethan), Partner & Home Design Stylist, advises that you look at the fireplace as a pyramid with art or a mirror at the pinnacle and bulkier items forming a wider arrangement at the base in the hearth. ‘You can use big lanterns, disco balls or our floor-standing characters to make a statement here,’ she says. ‘If you have a blank canvas to work with, why not map out a graphic shape in fairy lights, or hang baubles from the ceiling?’

Fireplace mirror decorations

Above and beyond

Not all fireplaces have a mantelpiece but, with or without, the chimney breast is a prime spot. A wreath is the traditional choice here. If you have a mirror, dressing it with a garland and some battery-powered lights will mimic the look. A bold and graphic festive print framed and hung up is a great alternative in a modern home while cascades of baubles on ribbons, spilling down the chimney breast will sparkle magically in the glow from the fire below.

Look to the alcoves too. If you have shelving, encourage a festive narrative to unfold, using characters and decorations to create something really fun and that’s personal to you. Blank walls here will benefit from a pair of fireside wreaths or garlands.

Stockings hanging on a fireplace

Don’t forget the stockings

What could be more traditional? Stockings are always fun and filled with the promise of the Christmas goodies to come. Choose fabrics with texture and detail – who doesn't love a pom pom? Personalised stockings feel special and are easy to create using old fashioned luggage tags and your best calligraphy, modern stenciled initials or even a little photo of the intended recipient. Plunder pictures from the past – it’s always fun to see pictures of mum and dad from their childhood Christmases.

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