Halloween is right around the corner, which means the holiday season is almost upon us. While Thanksgiving is certainly fun, it is easily overshadowed by the December holidays. There’s just something about that time of year, the snow that falls in many parts of the country, the holiday music that takes over in shops and restaurants and of course the gorgeous sights and smells of holiday home decorations. If you have a fireplace in your living room, you’ve got the ability to create that classic vision of home at the holidays. The stockings will hang down in front of the fireplace come late December, but you can decorate your mantle any time you want, adding to the fun and excitement of the season. Here are just a few fun ways to decorate your mantle for the holidays.

One fantastic choice is going with a simple and natural look. Everyone knows about the traditional flavors of the holiday season. Pine, apple, and cinnamon are plentiful, and bringing those into your mantle decoration creates an easy beauty you can enjoy for the next several months. Layer the mantle with evergreen branches pulled right from the tree, pinecones that fall in the yard and green apples from the farmer’s market. You’ll have to replace the apples from time to time, but the pine needles will scent the air and the beautiful green and brown hues are perfect for the fall months leading up to the holidays.

If for you the goal is to have your eye drawn to the stockings, then skip out on traditional colors and get more creative. You can coordinate stocking colors with the walls around your mantle, even if they aren’t traditional holiday colors. Or find stockings that modernize the common reds, blues, whites and greens with a different tone, then match them with candles and glass globes laid out on top. The more unique the colors, the more compliments you’re sure to get!

Perhaps for you the holiday mantle is all about warming up the winter and watching the fire on a snowy night. Embrace your love of the season with a winter-themed mantle. Go with whites and silvers in your candlesticks, ornaments, vases and holiday figures, and even change out the framed pictures for white and silver frames as well. If you want to take it a step further, pick up large frames and fill the inside with white and silver wrapping paper in unique patterns and hang those above the mantle.

In many families ornaments are given out to each member each and every year. Well unless you have a twelve-foot tree you can often run out of room, and end up with boxes of ornaments and nowhere to put them. With some beautiful, glass or plastic bowls and vases placed on the mantle this is no longer the case. Choose different shapes and sizes and fill them with extra ornaments, then finish off the look with some branches of pine laid between them. Try to color coordinate if you can, but even mismatched ornaments will add to the anticipation of the holidays.

Finally, try bringing in living flowers for an impressive effect. Create fake presents with cardboard boxes, and line the outside with green mums pinned in place. Wrap each one with a red ribbon, and you’ve created a living present that can grace the mantle for the rest of the season. This might work best if your fireplace uses gas fires that you can shut off, so the presents don’t go up in smoke. Finish up the look with vases filled with red flowers, and you’ll be thrilled at the fun yet classy feel of your mantle.