If you can't resist the beauty of glass tree-toppers, but are stumped for a way to display your collection, try the idea shown here. Nestle candlesticks among greenery, and rest an ornament or tree-topper finial on each candlestick, securing it with a little candle wax. Place additional ornaments along the mantel, and attach a rope of blown-glass ornaments at intervals with floral wire.
Why not highlight some of your prized possessions with holiday flair? In the country setting shown, fruit and greenery complement antique bowls and books. Instead of using greenery, you might lay a red paisley shawl or gold piano scarf along the mantel as a background for decorations. Scrunch and gather the fabric to give it shape and create graceful swags. Hold the fabric in place with pillar candles, old Christmas books, and a silver or china tea set filled with greenery, berries, and flowers.
An acorn squash adds unique harvest flair. Cut a block of floral foam or plastic foam to fit a cast-iron or terra-cotta garden urn; cover the foam with moss. Cut a hole in the top of an acorn squash to hold a votive candle. Secure the squash to the moss-covered foam with floral picks and insert the votive candle.
Instead of decorating with the usual apples and oranges, try vegetables and color-coordinated fruits. For a contemporary scheme like the room shown here, use cauliflower, cantaloupes (real and ceramic), pears, and lemons. Fill in behind the vegetables and add graceful lines that fall below the mantel's edge with foliage, such as eucalyptus, bay, or ruscus, purchased from a floral supply shop.
Mix Old and New
You don't have to chase everything off your mantel in order to decorate for Christmas; add greenery and fruit or ornaments for a holiday look. In this traditional setting, the old books that are permanent mantel residents nestle into the garland and cuddle up with a porcelain reindeer and glass balls.