Nature-inspired Christmas mantel with lantern

Desire a natural Christmas mantel? Here’s how to put together nature-inspired Christmas mantel decor with real evergreen branches, an illuminated lantern, a red Coke sign and a few favorite things!

I’m pretty sure I start off every Christmas mantel with the preface, my mantel is massive, so my fireplace mantel decorating has to be too!

For the most part, the fireplace mantel in the living room is decorated pretty minimalyl for most of the year. But when Christmas rolls around, I go BIG.

But have you priced real evergreen branches? Everything seems to come with such a high cost these days. So I did my standard practice, and head outdoors after a good wind storm to collect this year’s greenery!

Then after deciding on a nature theme, I gathered up some accessories I already had on hand to chime in.

And I ended up with my favorite Christmas mantel to-date!

So let’s walk through this year’s holiday mantel, which will include tips on how I put it all together… for absolutely free! 

Mantel supplies used:


Deer antlers

Reproduction lantern, full-sized

2 table top Christmas trees (mine are from Hobby Lobby a number of years ago)

Vintage reproduction Coca Cola sign in deep red and white

Galvanized-look oversized ornaments

Large pinecones

Windblown real evergreen branches

Cuttings of holly branches with red berries

1 string of vintage full-sized white outdoor Christmas lights

Neutral Christmas stockings – I used furry and off-white stockings

Other suggestions although I didn’t use them this year:

Spray snow

Faux plastic snow

HERE is how I achieve a natural, snowy look on branches.

Nature-inspired Christmas mantel with lantern


Welcome to my abundant and rustic nature-inspired Christmas mantel, with plenty of greenery, accessories and lights! And boy does it illuminate in the evenings thanks to those lights that are full size this year!

This is seriously my favorite Christmas mantel to-date! So let’s dig into the details…

Landing free foliage


Being that we got a real Christmas tree this year (coming soon!), I wanted my Christmas mantel to chime in with that. So when it was time to put up the holiday mantel, I head down my favorite country road lined with tall evergreens.

It never fails. Loads of freshly broken branches lay on the side of the road, perfect for this rustic nature-inspired Christmas mantel look!

I also belong to a community Facebook group, and when someone advertised about pruning their holly bush complete with red berries, you know I was down the road in a flash to pick some of that up!

Gathering accessories to theme the mantel


Since I was going for a realistic nature-inspired look, I gathered elements that helped reflect that.

Note there are no miniature decorations. Everything used is full-size. Miniatures are fun! But this round, I wanted a true authentic look so I used full-sized accessories to reflect that.

With a super cool lantern, faux Christmas tree seedlings, plus a smattering of red with the Coca Cola red sign among all the fresh evergreen branches mixed with some holly clippings, this Christmas mantel most certainly makes an impact and looks as cozy as can be in the evenings!

How the lantern started the theme


This chosen design started with this neat reproduction vintage lantern. It was gifted to me by a friend, and I couldn’t wait to put it to use! It’s hollow on the bottom, so ensuring some Christmas lights snuck inside appears to illuminate the lantern perfectly.

So what would work with an outdoor lantern?

I imagined walking through the woods, with a lantern in hand, following a long, narrow path towards a cabin snuggled deep in the woods. And the rest was just pulled together to further the story.

Wishing to keep the Christmas mantel fairly neutral, I added a creamy white stocking along with a tan furry stocking which chimes in nicely with the white sofas and rustic woods in the room.

Adding white outdoor vintage Christmas lights


And did you notice how large the lights are? I honestly ran out of mini white Christmas lights that all landed on this year’s Christmas tree (coming soon!) so after rummaging through my Christmas light stash, a string of outdoor vintage white Christmas lights did the trick.

I think I actually prefer larger lights! One string of large outdoor Christmas lights really illuminates the Christmas mantel features beautifully without taking over.

Something to note though with larger Christmas lights is the fact that they do throw more heat. So closer to Christmas, I may switch out the branches to keep them fresher since there’s plenty of evergreen branches where these came from!

Or you could always pick up a few vintage light reflectors…

Color scheme


My first intention was to decorate in all neutrals, hence the neutral stockings. However this living room and fireplace always seem to do better with a dash of red! So this round, I chose a vintage reproduction Coca Cola sign in a deep vintage red tone.

Would you find a Coke sign in the forest? Probably not. LOL But I liked how it looked. Plus, Coke signs are typically outdoors and has a big Christmas presence in advertising so I think it just works!

The addition of holly branches with red berries helped to bring out a little more color as well in a natural way.

Christmas decorations


Did you notice there’s a lack of Christmas decorations? Probably not! While I did add the white vintage Christmas lights and 3 large galvanized ornaments, all the rest of the accesseries are everyday things. So this is yet another reason I only have 1 Christmas decorations box. I don’t use many!

However you sure can. Simply pull from your stash to chime in with theme and color palette and add any Christmas wreaths, ribbons, candlesticks, DIY holiday decor accents, garland and Christmas signs you wish!

How to build this mantel look:


  1. Position evergreen branches in place on an empty mantel.
  2. Add features to the mantel, such as lantern, evergreen trees for height, and a Coca Cola sign for a pop of color.
  3. Weave in Christmas lights around the features, making sure they reach all the darkest areas and highlight features, such as inside a lantern or under the taller Christmas trees.
  4. Hang stockings off to the side so they don’t interfere with lighting a real wood burning fireplace.
  5. Spritz with faux snow if desired, although I didn’t feel a need to do that this year. The larger lights do all the highlighting required!

All that’s left to do is light the real wood-burning fireplace, snuggle-up with a hot beverage and a cozy throw blanket, and you’re left with a cozy cabin-in-the-woods kinda Christmas mantel vibe that offers warmth, plenty of holiday cheer charm, and as free as it gets!

What theme is your Christmas mantel this year?

I secretly like to challenge myself to rustic Christmas mantel decorating each year… below are a few more Christmas mantel ideas you may enjoy…

Other rustic Christmas mantel decoration ideas:


Wood deer and Christmas tree mantel

Illuminated vintage windows Christmas mantel

Stacked vintage crates Christmas mantel

Illuminated Christmas trees mantel sign

Cozy cabin branch filled Christmas mantel (reindeer head and snowy branches)

Santa’s Picnic by the Campfire Christmas mantel

Visit all fireplace mantel decorating posts HERE

Check out Christmas stencils I love using HERE

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Funky Junk Donna:

View Comments (10)

  • Your Christmas mantles are always fabulous Donna but this years is just awe inspiring. The lighter shades of stocking with the red of the Coke sign and lights makes everything pop. And I say a red Coca Cola sign is quintessentially Christmas. I recall Christmas commercials on TV when younger that featured Coca Cola. One can see why this is your favorite. I have been decorating all over the place. Been taking my time and do some each day. I do a little tweaking here and there. We're having a get together on Christmas Eve to remember and celebrate my husband and my sons father. So, hence, decor abounds. Much to be grateful for.

    • Thanks Joanne, and yes, you nailed it on Coke! haha Appreciate the kind words! I nearly didn't do a mantel this year because, well, this entire year I'm slower than usual however I'm so glad I made the push! A lit mantel is just as delightful as a lit tree in the evenings!

  • Love all of your creative ideas! They are so natural and easy to recreate. My favorite is the illuminated Christmas tree sign. I purchased your stencil, bought a bulletin board, and lights. Since I don’t have a stash of reclaimed wood like you, so jealous, I purchased a piece of wood from a local architectural salvage shop. Added a little paint for a distressed look and it was a fun afternoon project. I use it every year on my mantle, adding a few trees, greenery and a glittery star garland. I enjoy seeing your posts and admire your creativity. Your weekly upcycle posts also have wonderful projects to try. Can’t wait to see your tree! Merry Christmas.

    • Thanks Barbara! The illuminated tree sign is a close 2nd... I really loved how it glowed at night! I'd bet yours is fantastic and I'm so glad you figured it out without having heaps of reclaimed wood at hand! PS: Working with new wood is easier... it tends to be unwarped. haha

  • Beautiful Holiday Mantel!

    I love how you used wild greens and things you already had around. I have a woodstove, no mantel.
    Now I think I am going to go find an old 2x4 or such in the yard and nail it to the 2x4's already on the wall on each side of my woodstove.
    I have a white brick wall behind my woodstove.
    Lots of pine trees in my yard.
    I also have an old lantern someplace that was my Grandparents....
    Thanks for the inspiration!

    You should send a photo to the Coke company.

    • Thanks Nylene! And your fireplace shelf idea sounds amazing! You may want to check with your fire code to ensure it's far enough away from the heat though!

      Infusing the fresh green branches can also be easily done anywhere. Any shelf works!

      • Hi! Happy Holidays. My sons are still working on it!
        We are going to put it high up above the wood stove so it will be away from much heat. It will be running across the white brick wall behind and above the stove, where it does not get very hot.
        The stovepipe runs outside though the wall, not upwards.
        We will be careful!

  • I love this and am so glad someone else is still decorating for Christmas. Actually, like you, I decorate for winter for the most part and my decor will be up at least until Valentine's Day. It's too much work to take it down right after Christmas or even after the new year. I use faux greenery and have also gone for a woodland theme this year. I'm loving the look of battery-powered mini lights under white feather boas and have used that look in three locations in my apartment. It was those two cute feathery snowy owls that I scored at a local thrift shop that started the whole thing. Happy holidays!

    • Thanks Teddee! Oh yeah, I'm definitely still decorating. I'm not sure if I'll offer up a home tour this year but if I do, it'll definitely be at the 11th hour.

      I too have a preference for winter decorating so it can stay up longer. However being that I always use a real tree and branches, that limits time. So I either replace or change it up completely.

      But it's worth the effort if you can find the real thing for (nearly) free!

  • Ahh, this is beautiful as always! Love that it's real evergreen and holly branches and that lantern is so cool!