“When I decorate for the holidays, I think of a winter forest near my home in Copenhagen, mixing nature-inspired objects with silver for ‘frost.’ A mantel can be stiff, so I tend to go with a loose composition that feels animated and whimsical.” —Christine Rudolph, Stylist
Neutral, Textured Objects
Forage for matte white and pale wood items (try the ornament box, your dresser top, and cupboards) in various heights, some smooth and some “primitive” (like the trees here). Extra points for anything nature-related.Metallic Touches
If you have a silver pitcher in the house, grab it to use as an anchor. Spruce up natural details to match. Just about anything—acorns, pinecones, greenery, branches—can be rolled in silver glitter or sprayed with metallic paint.Artful Placement
Start with a tall object (like the antler here) just off center, then build out. Group some objects closely, and leave breathing room around others. Finally, wind a strand of garland throughout, “breaking” the edge of the mantel with a swag. Add a large, neutral-toned ornament to one side of the fireplace (see left) to extend the display into the room.Find instructions for folded stars like the one here (on the antler) and those on slide 1 at highhopes.com/3dstar.html. For easiest results, use paper tape cut into 48-inch lengths (two-inch kraft paper tape, $5 a roll, dickblick.com). You can also buy premade German paper stars at etsy.com.