So you want to make fresh, evergreen garland? I don’t blame you! It’s another one of my cheap and easy Christmas decorations that people go gaga over. Moreover, nothing smells like Christmas except the scent of fresh cut pine. Let’s get down to business and learn how to create evergreen garland, also known as swags.
The process is very similar to my evergreen wreath tutorial. You might want to give it a quick run through before going through this one. Wreaths are a tiny bit easier because you are working with a stable frame and on a smaller scale. However, I’m one for jumping head first into most crafts, so feel free to ignore my advice. Alrighty, here we go:
- Evergreens: The above pictures show my collection of branches from white pine, cypress, ivy, fraser fir, and some other random pine. I just mooched off of family and neighbors because you don’t need more than a few limbs of each. Just promise them you will cut without gapping the tree/bush. Usually people are happy to let you tidy up their plants. The piles in the first picture made around 30 ft of garland for my house. The second photo shows the greens cut into various lengths 6″ to 1′ depending on how thick/wide I wanted the garland.
- Wire: I like a 24 gauge, just make sure it’s thick enough that you can pull it without it breaking but thin enough to wind easily. I like the green florist wire because If I’m not careful (which I’m not usually) it will blend better.
- Wire or Rope: In the past I have used brown rope (big mistake), green rope, and this year green covered thick wire (in the floral section of craft stores). Make sure whatever you choose is green. The brown rope was a beotch because every single micrometer had to be covered in greenery or the brown showed through. I like the wire the best because it was strong enough to hold the garland together, thin enough to cover easily, and it held its shape better than the rope. Cut it into the lengths you want your finished garland to be.
- Cheap/Old Clippers: Once you cut the wire and gummy pine trees they’re pretty much done. I always just use my old garden shears for this project.
- Gloves & Old Blanket/Old Clothes: Yes, most of the pictures show my bare hands. Do as I say not as I do, because this will eat your hands alive. The old sheet is to sit on, because you are going to want to do this OUTSIDE or in a garage. You will be covered in rosin and needles when done.
Secure your two wires together.
Take a handful of greenery (all facing the same way) and stick the wire through the middle. It isn’t important that the wire be 100% covered because, let’s face it, your going to be putting layer after layer after layer of greenery on this puppy. As you overlap it will cover most gaps.
Then take the floral wire and wrap it a couple of times around the whole bundle near the ends of the greenery. Do NOT cut the wire. It needs to stay in one continuous strand to help hold the whole thing together.
Take another bundle of greenery and bundle it around the first piece and the wire, BUT make sure the ends are maybe 1-3″ further down the wire. Then take the STILL ATTACHED floral wire and wrap it a couple of times to secure the second bundle. Now repeat this about 10 billion times for however long you want your garland to be.
Basically you just going to keep going, bundle, wrap, bundle, wrap, bundle, wrap… Of course it will be the coldest day of the year when you choose to do this outside. So you might also want to bundle and wrap yourself.
Now that you are almost at the end of your garland you may realize “How the Hell am I going to finish this?” Well it is pretty simple. When you’re one bundle away from finishing the garland take the last bundle and turn it the opposite direction and secure it end to end with the last piece. Now you may tie off your floral wire and cut it.
Bend the piece going in the wrong direction back on itself and stick some random pieces of greenery in the few wires that show. Voila, your done! And probably cold and sticky, but DONE!
- If you know where your garland is going then you can focus on one side or the other. For example I made a swag to go in the kitchen over the window. I knew only one side was going to show so I put all my pretty berries etc… on one side of my bundles. Beware! Staircases will be seen from both sides.
- Incorporate other things in your garland: You can use ivy, vines, twigs, juniper, dried flowers, etc… Anything that is not going to wilt or rot in 3 or so weeks
- You can decorate garland: While I tailor each garland for my rooms (i.e. bittersweet vines for the kitchen, ivy mix for the living room) I also decorate it after it is in place. It’s easy to take a little floral wire and stick on lights, ornaments, fruit, etc. Also, if you messed up an area or it has a gap just shove a few loose pieces in. Usually the will be held in place by the other limbs.
- Remember that it is going to be MUCH heavier than fake garland: Secure accordingly. I just use doubled over floral wire on hooks and nails to secure it. If you put up a 15′ piece by yourself cuss accordingly. Also try draping it over your shoulders, poke yourself in the neck, and cuss more.
- To prolong life mist with water: I mist mine ever morning when I water the tree. Okay, I mist mine every few days when I hear the cats drinking the water out of the Christmas tree and it reminds me.
We all think of garland over the mantel, but I use mine over windows and around light fixtures (be careful about potential fire hazards). Where will you use your garland?