A couple of months ago, I visited a distant acquaintance in her home because I had reached out to her for professional advice (we work in the same field) and she had graciously invited me over for a cup of tea. I walked into her foyer and immediately fell in love with her fireplace mantel and her staircase railing, which faced each other and just screamed, “decorate me beautifully for Christmas!”
While this would ordinarily be a weird reaction to have in a stranger’s home, it so happened that I noticed a For Sale sign in front of my acquaintance’s house while pulling up, and — seeing as my husband and I had hoped to move to her neighborhood at some point in the future — my wheels were already turning.
Fast forward three months, and — settled in our new home, my acquaintance’s old home! — I could not wait to pull out the garlands, nativities and stockings to make our house festive for the Advent and Christmas season.
My husband and I had many reasons to move our little family into our new neighborhood and house — great schools, walking distance from the sweetest library, a backyard — but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that that mantel and staircase remained one of the biggest selling factors throughout our discernment process!
While I could take it or leave it on outdoor holiday decorations (I love how they look, but I resist involving myself in any project that requires standing in the cold for too long, and I also resist making to-do lists for my husband!), I absolutely love decking the indoor halls.
Here are some Catholic Christmas decor ideas that grabbed my eye this year:
For the Mantel
An alternative to “Elf on the Shelf,” this Mary on the Mantel Set doubles as a fun and meaningful activity for children to help them prepare for the birth of Jesus, and as a decor item. Mary won’t spend all of Advent sitting on your mantel (the caregiver guide that comes with the set includes tips and ideas for what Mary can do around the home), but she can have a special place saved for her there, amidst the garlands, lights and candles.
I love the look of a garland hanging across a mantle (or down a staircase, for that matter!). Here are two beautiful ones: this Christmas Script paper link garland, which is covered in lyrics to Christmas carols, and this Wood Bead garland. The neutral colors of both garlands make them ideal decor for Christmastime when there are likely other mixes of colors and textures in your home, and these garlands would pair well with stockings, evergreens, lights, and other items on a mantel.
For the Walls
Years ago, I read a blog post in which the writer said that she spent a few hours at the end of every November “clearing the decks” to make way for Advent and Christmas decor. I love this idea of aiming for a cleaner slate before bringing out holiday treasures, especially as far as the walls are concerned. With a few less items on the walls, it’s especially exciting to images that call to mind the birth of Jesus in artful ways.
I love this Isaiah 9:6 print that depicts the names of Jesus: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. The colors and poinsettia border make it extra festive.
This colorful Nativity Plaque is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s a fun twist on the traditional figurine based nativity. An added perk is that it doesn’t require a surface area on which to place it… and little hands can’t run off with pieces, if you’re in that stage of parenthood!
For the Tabletops and other Surfaces
There isn’t anything more classic than a tabletop nativity…or three or four tabletop nativities! I mean, why not one for every room? In my family’s house, we keep our largest nativity on the dining room credenza, and my kids love looking at the pieces throughout the Advent season. But we also have other nativities scattered throughout or home. I like the idea of keeping a simple, one piece nativity — like this Starry Night Triptych Nativity — on a kitchen counter where I can meditate on it as I prepare food throughout the season. And a Petite Nativity Scene like this one would work well on an entryway or mail table.
Once I’ve completed all the “major decorating” — the tree, the garlands, the mantle, the nativities — I like to place smaller decorations throughout the house. This Holy Family Nativity Statue would go well on a bedside table or on top of a book shelf, and this Winter Magnolia Stoneware Display would make an excellent centerpiece on a dining room table or set on top of a stack of coffee table books.