I am also never quite happy with the mantle. For several years I did a vintage Christmas village, as inspired by Alicia Paulson.
This was very popular with the children.
More recently I have been doing a garland and wreath but still not loving it. This year I added the sweetest little potted poinsettias, after learning last year, that unlike shown in many a magazine photo, they do not actually make very good cut flowers. Apparently they also don't made very good tiny plants, because mine died after two days. Pottery Barn to the rescue. I also got this pillow.
After seeing the letters made on Handmade Home, I made something similar with cardstock and microglitter.
This also meant that I went to church Wednesday evening with glitter stuck to my face.