I like the NOEL including the clock. It's the proximity of the mantel to the tree, though, that pulls off the impact. I did it with Red and Black and used a round chalkboard for the O and added a star chalkboard for accent with the year.
Sparklers create a grand exit -- the next best thing to fireworks! Make it easy for guests by providing buckets of sparklers. Line walkway with lit votive candles so guests can easily light their sparklers.