How To Decorate The Top Of Your Kitchen Cabinets For Christmas

The Christmas season is approaching and there is one part of the home that often gets overlooked during the hustle and bustle of holiday decorating-the top of your kitchen cabinets. Yes, certainly the kitchen itself gets quite a bit of attention, but we often forget to look up. 

So now you have the perfect excuse to show off more of your favorite bits and baubles or to buy something new. Before you run off to the attic or the store, read through our Decorator’s Guide below. Then browse our collection of the top decoration inspiration from around the internet followed by some FAQs. 

Stick with us and you’ll be all set to decorate your above cabinet space in no time. 

Decorator’s Guide 

Space 

While planning your top of cabinet decor, the first thing you need to do is measure your space. How much room do you actually have from the top of the cabinet to the ceiling? Make sure you have at least 1 foot, but 2 feet is ideal. Any less space and your decorations will be limited to mainly small items (you’ll read why you want to avoid that next). 

Now that you know what size space you are working with you can move on to selecting decorations. 

Size of Decorations 

When decorating above a cabinet, bigger is always better. It will be hard to see small detailed items from down on the ground-aka far away. So this is not a good place for small porcelain Santas or a tiny holiday village. Think tall and use larger items to visually extend the height of your cabinets and make your room feel larger. 

Great items to consider are large nutcrackers, an antique sleigh, antique skis, lanterns with flames candles, a large festive sign, a group of faux miniature trees or thick garland. Avoid any items that will touch the ceiling as these will make the room feel smaller. 

Measure items you already have and compare to the height available or measure before you buy something new. 

Weight of Decorations 

While searching for decorations that fit your space do not forget about weight. Yes, your kitchen cabinets are likely strong, but you don’t want to add too much weight or they could be damaged. Avoid lots of heavy items whenever possible. It will also be easier to decorate if the items are lightweight. 

Safety

There are definitely safety concerns to consider when decorating the top of your cabinets. The first one is to practice proper ladder utilization. Make sure your ladder is sturdy and properly set-up before climbing up. Always have a helper or someone else in the house when using a tall ladder to help keep it steady so you can avoid accidents and injury. 

The second safety concern is fire. Make sure none of your decorations will be a fire hazard. Use only UL safety rated light sets. LED lights run at the coolest temperature and therefore, are the safest string lights on the market. 

Another fire concern are any lights surrounding or above the upper cabinets. Be aware of the temperature of the regular light bulbs you are using. Incandescent bulbs get hotter than LED bulbs, so they can potentially melt your decorations at best and catch fire at worst. 

Never ever use real candles above your kitchen cabinets. Nothing with an open flame should be that close to your ceiling. 

Above Kitchen Cabinet Christmas Decor Inspiration- Our Top 11

Get inspired with these real life examples of Christmas decor. Which is your favorite? 

Modern Rustic

If you have the space add a large festive sign above the cabinets and then drape your favorite garland in front for depth and interest. I love the use of unlit low profile (thinner) garland here. It keeps the look minimal while still looking complete. 

Photo and inspiration courtesy of Sugar Maple Notes

white cabinets with garland and Merry Christmas sign

Fresh and Festive

You can make a big statement without a lot of color. The use of clear glass here is just enough to catch the light and add height behind the garland. The garland itself is gorgeous and combines several types of leaves. You can achieve this look by combining two different garlands or adding faux greenery picks into your favorite garland. I prefer this option without lights for the natural fee, but you do you. This is a great option if you aren’t in love with your cabinet color because you won’t have to worry about anything clashing. 

Photo and inspiration courtesy of The Glam Pad

Grey cabinets with fresh magnolia garland

Small Vignette

I love the idea of creating small vignettes if you only have a small space with an exposed cabinet top like this home. You won’t have room for a long garland or even an antique sleigh, so you can create a small vignette with 1-3 items. I love how this one layers a large dish filled with pinecones behind some wooden letters. 

Photo and inspiration courtesy of The Weathered Fox

white cabinets with Christmas sign and 2 wreaths

Mini Tree Farm

Create your own miniature tree farm above your kitchen cabinets this year. You can coordinate the color of the containers as they did here or go for an eclectic mix of container types to look collected over time. If you want to add a pop color consider adding coordinating bows to each container. This is a can’t miss win! Remember to stagger the heights and types of trees for added visual interest. 

Photo courtesy of Adam Albright Photography Inc. 

Vintage Christmas

Grab that giant set of holiday letters you’ve been eyeing-now you have a place to display them! You could use lightweight metal, wood or even faux greenery letters for a seriously eye-catching display. You can adjust this one to suit your style as well. Make it minimal, glam, traditional, rustic, bright and bold, etc. Let your imagination lead you! 

Photo and inspiration courtesy of PinePlace

Brown kitchen cabinets with white letters that spell NOEL. Green garland

White and Green

The simplicity of this one is sure to not only add efficiency to your holiday, but also extra smiles to your season. A faux garland is softly laid above the cabinets with a few pieces draping over the edges here and there. I enjoy the minimal lights as well, but you could always leave them out for an even softer look. This one feels natural and not at all fussy. 

Photo and inspiration courtesy of House Mix

white cabinets with think garland and sparse light strand

Traditional Red and Green 

A fun traditional red and green set-up will make your kitchen extra cheerful this year! I love the use of flocked garland to bring in a bit of white to contrast with the detailing here. This one also includes a festive sign, red trees, and lanterns to tie the entire look together. 

Photo and inspiration courtesy of Adventures in Decorating

white kitchen cabinets with green garland and lots of decorations

Rustic Farmhouse

This entire home is the ultimate in farmhouse Christmas goals! The adove cabinet decor is no exception. The frosted pinecones, branches and berries give off all the warm and cozy wintery feels. The wire basket to add height in the background is an excellent touch. 

Photo and inspiration courtesy of The Craft Patch 

white cabinet with berries, pinecones and lights

Peppermint Fantasy

This one is not for the faint of heart! Go all in with a peppermint theme. Think large faux gingerbread houses, gingerbread men and of course peppermints. I love the use of white garland to mimic snow for this one. Gorgeous! 

Photo and inspiration courtesy of Between Naps On The Porch

kitchen with lots of decorations including white garland and gingerbread village above cabinets
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Red Poinsettias

This one packs some serious punch! Line your cabinets with pretty faux red poinsettia plants and drape a garland in front for extra interest. Poinsettias offer such a classic Christmas look and you could even go with white instead of red if you prefer. Lots of color without all the fuss. A great low-maintenance option. 

Photo and inspiration courtesy of Yellow Bliss Road

White kitchen cabinet with green garland and red poinsettias behind

Just Add Fairy Lights

If you already have decor above your cabinets, or even if you don’t, you can simply add an inexpensive set of fairy lights for that extra festive touch. Look for a set with wireless remotes for a completely stress-free experience. No one wants to climb up on a ladder every day to turn these on and off. 

Inspiration courtesy of Real Homes and photo credit Malcolm Menzies

Dark blue kitchen cabinets with one strand of lights across the top

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you put decor on top of your cabinets for Christmas?

Ok, ok hear me out. I know it’s not 1994, and this trend has somewhat passed us by, but you can decorate the top of your kitchen cabinets. Especially during the Christmas season. There are no rules for Christmas decorating. If you want to do it, don’t let anyone talk you out of it! 

If you decide to go for it, consider the following.  First think about how much time you have available. Do you have time to decorate and take down these pieces? Second, consider space. Do you have space to add festive items? Many cabinets are within 6 inches of the ceiling and may not leave enough room for decorations. You do not want your decorations to touch the ceiling. Third, what look are you trying to achieve with the kitchen? If the decor above the cabinets makes the kitchen feel too busy or full, you may want to skip it. 

Remember, if you don’t like something you can always change it this year or do it differently next year. The great thing about holiday decorating is that it’s not permanent. Have some fun and try new things until you find something you love. 

What are the easiest decorations to use on top of kitchen cabinets?

This all depends on how you define easy! To me the easiest pieces are those that take a bit of real estate but are not exceptionally heavy. My picks for easiest pieces are garlands laid on top instead of hung, signs, and small trees. I try to decorate each piece as much as possible on the ground before transferring to the top of the cabinet. That feels easiest to me, so I don’t spend tons of time up on a ladder (not my favorite place!). 

Are Christmas decorations above kitchen cabinets a fire hazard?

You should always be conscious of potential fire hazards in the home. The biggest things to avoid would be candles and electric items that are not UL rated (meaning they have been evaluated and rated for safe use in homes). If you go with lights LEDs are a great option because they do not produce heat like traditional incandescent bulbs. 

Also watch out for incandescent light bulbs as a part of permanent lighting the kitchen. Keep holiday decorations away from lights for fire safety, but also to avoid damage to your decorations. No one wants to discover melted artificial tree needles or berries at the end of the holiday season. 

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