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How to Thicken a Sparse Christmas Tree

before and after thickening a sparse Christmas tree using this tutorial.

Ever notice how sparse looking an old or cheap artificial Christmas tree can be?  I’m not a huge fan of artificial trees to begin with… So, the last thing I want to do is have a dejected, sparse, Christmas tree.  Fear not!  I have the simplest tutorial that can teach you how to thicken any Christmas tree.  It can take a sad fake tree and make it look fabulous.  With these easy steps you can breath new life into an old artificial tree or add pizazz to a cheap Christmas tree.  You are going to be shocked by how easy it is to thicken a sparse Christmas tree.

No More Sparse Christmas Trees

How to Thicken a Sparse Christmas Tree tutorial.

It only takes two things to make an artificial Christmas Tree look thick and lush. (Affiliate links to follow)


  1. Fake Garland
  2. Something to cut wire

I try to pick up fake garland the day after Thanksgiving.  It is always dirt cheap and can be used as a base to make fabulous evergreen garland, teardrop swags, and thicken a Christmas tree.

Step 1

Put up your sparse Christmas Tree.  Step back and make a face at the lackluster branches.  Look online to see about buying a new, better tree.  Gasp at the prices and proceed to revamp your old artificial tree.

Step 2

Add some lights.  Everything looks better with lights! Fun fact, I had a brief job as a costume designer.  The motto of the theater is “Make it big.  If you can’t make it big make it red.  If you can’t make it red put lights on it.”  Seems legit.

Sparse Christmas tree in need of thickening
Here is a sad sparse Christmas tree. At least it has a little twinkle.

Step 3

Now here is the fun part.  Untie your garland and push in the end until it is near the tree trunk just above the bottom row of branches.  Eye ball where the branches end on the piece of garland and then cut that length.  Cut 4 or 5 more pieces the same length.  Fluff those pieces of garland out and place them right above the bottom row of branches.  You can use a piece of the garland to wrap around another branch or the trunk to secure the piece in place.

Cutting garland to thicken a sparse Christmas Tree.

Step 4

Repeat step three moving up the sparse tree.  You will likely need to fill in 3 or 4 ‘levels’ of tree.  Bonus points if you spend time fluff and twisting, and sprucing it all up.  Personally, I am bad to just shove the branches in and move things around when I decorate if need be.

before and after thickening a sparse Christmas tree using this tutorial.
So Much Better!

Yeah, this really is one of the shortest tutorials I have ever written, but it really is that easy!  Kind of cut, shove, and go!  So, get yourself some cheap garland and make that fake Christmas tree thick and fabulous.

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How to Make Teardrop Garland or Teardrop Swags

How to Make a Teardrop Garland

Evergreens are always in style for Christmas time so why not make your own teardrop garland or swags?  They add Christmas cheer to doors, mailboxes, and below lights.  The following teardrop swag tutorial can be make with artificial or real evergreens.  I use a combo of evergreens in the porch light teardrop garlands.  For specific tips on handling real evergreen garland you can see my evergreen garland video and written tutorials or my evergreen wreath tutorial.  Otherwise read on to learn all about what you will need to make teardrop garland.

The supplies are minimal for making a teardrop garland (affiliate links may follow).  The only item you might not be able to buy is a wire coat hanger.  Trust me, just ask around and I bet you will find someone that has wire coat hangers in spades.  I use them as a base form for the teardrop shape because they are cheap (free) and they already have a built in hook!  How freaking nifty!

Let’s Make a Teardrop Garland

How to Make a Teardrop Garland


  • Wire Coat Hanger/ Rustic 18 Gauge Wire: You can use the thick wire to make a form too.  I link to an Amazon reference but you can easily get this cheaper at a craft store.
  • 24 Gauge Floral Wire: My fav because it holds but is easy to work with!
  • Wire Cutters: My husband assures me these are also called dykes…  Yeah…
  • Cheap Rope Garland or live evergreens:  I like to borrow the live stuff from the neighbors.
  • Floral Picks: If you are going the artificial route I love some frosted floral picks.  White pine, cyprus, bittersweet and dried grasses can usually be collected free as you only need a couple of handfuls.

Step 1: Making a Teardrop Swag Form

This is the hardest part of the whole project.  Cutting the dang wire hanger!  The wire is much thicker than it first appears.  I find cursing a bit at it while squeezing the hell out of the wire cutters works well.  You can do some additional work with that potty mouth as you straighten the bends our of the hanger to make two downward v-shaped lengths from the hook.  That will be the basis of your teardrop garland.  I wanted a fuller bottom swag.  You can bend the wire wider at the top and then taper at the bottom if you want a more traditional upside down teardrop shape to the swag.

Use wire coat hangers as a base for teardrop garland
As you can see you don’t exactly have to bend these to perfection.

Step 2: Making the Teardrop Base

Take your cheap garland and cut two pieces to the desired length of your teardrop garland.  Attach the floral wire right below the hook.  You can do some fancy-schmancy knot your you can be like me and just wrap it around a few times till it seems secure.  Lay the chopped up garland on the hanger and lightly wrap the wire around it to attach it.  Do this to both sides and then fluff out the garland.  Don’t worry that it looks a bit hellacious at the moment.  I swear it will get better in the next couple of steps.

Using artificial garland as a base for a teardrop swag
It gets better from here!

Step 3: Fill in the Teardrop Shape

Cut another piece of the cheap garland the same length as the other two and lay it in the middle of the two sections.  Time to bring those elementary craft skills into play.  Remember how to weave? In out. In out. Take the floral wire and kind of weave it in-between all three sections securing the middle.  It may look like it is time to panic when making your teardrop as this is not the prettiest step, but again stick with it!  After you have all three pieces attached the fun begins.

Basis for DIY Teardrop Garlands
Got a good mat of evergreens. It gets even better from here!


Step 4: The Finishing Touches

Now that you have the basis for your teardrop garland you are literally going to stuff other items in.  Cut up more of your cheap evergreen garland and stick the ends to the back of the teardrop.  Stuff in floral picks or real evergreens until the teardrop shape looks full and lush.  I like to hang mine at this point and add in some touches.  You can wire pine cones, add ribbon, or flock the entire teardrop swag with my homemade flocking recipe.

Detail of inserting evegreens into a diy teardrop garland
If you look closely you can see how I am inserting evergreens into the teardrop. Also, that I need a manicure.

Making a Teardrop Garland is this simple!  They look fabulous swagged below lights but you can easily use them instead of a wreath on the door.  Add a decorative bow on top to cover the hook and you are all set!  If you have any questions about this tutorial please leave them in the comments below.

How to Make a Teardrop Swag

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How to Make Artificial Garland Look Real

Cheap garland can look like the real thing with these tips and tricks

Did you know you can make artificial garland look real?  Did you know you can do this for cheap or even free?  Cheap artificial Christmas garland can look well… cheap or lackluster at best.  While I really love to make real evergreen garland by hand (and happen to have one of the top tutorials on making evergreen garland and wreaths), sometimes, I just don’t have time or the will to churn out yards and yards of the  real stuff.  I am ahem… lazy occasionally. Luckily, some cheap rope garland and a little know how is all it takes to make artificial garland that looks real.  Plus, the faux garland does tend to hold up better to the outdoor elements.

Tutorial on How To Make Artificial Garland Look Real

Tutorial on how to make artificial garland look real

You will need minimal supplies.  (Affiliate links may follow):

Step 1 Hang your Faux Evergreen Garland

Oddly enough, if you want the artificial garland to look real start by having it look like absolute crap.  Hang that crimped piece of faux greenery awfulness as is.  Yep, that is right, don’t fluff, bend, or do anything just put that puppy up.  As you can see here I added some bows at the corner.  You can also see here it looks very much like a dejected Christmas Garland.  Once you have it in place then fluff.  Why wait you ask?  Because anywhere the garland is against a surface or hangs somewhere you will not see the back you are going to want to fluff all the fake greenery forward.  This is also a great time to add lights to your artificial garland if you plan on having it lit.

Cheap garland just looks sad and dejected but you can change that
Start with the sad and dejected cheap garland. I found this for $1.99 for nine feet the day after Thanksgiving.

Step 2 Grab Some Greenery

Here is where you sneak into your neighbors yard ask your neighbor nicely if you can take a few branches off of their evergreens.  White pine, leyland cypress, heck any type of evergreen will do.  Also ivy, magnolia leaves, dried hydrangea, grasses, pine cones, and bittersweet berries make great additions to the garland.  You will not need much of these items.  I used what I could shove in two grocery bags to do the entire porch and add to the artificial tree, tear drop garlands, and wreath.  When you have collected all your items cut the branches into 4-6 inch lengths.  Try to get as many branch tips as possible.  Blunt cut ends will work but need a little more finesse to work in nicely.

If you bought any floral picks or a few branches now is the time to cut them into similar sized items.  All the red and white berries you see where cut from 3 dollar store faux floral Christmas stems.

If you are working with various types of greenery sort everything in piles by type.

Step 3 Making that Faux Garland Fabulous

Now that you are likely covered in pine needles and resin it is time to make the faux, fabulous. Here is when you will finally make artificial garland look real. Start with a single type of evergreen (example your pile of white pine) and start adding them into your greenery at a somewhat even spacing.  To add (complicated steps ahead):

  1. Place a piece of greenery against the artificial garland you can simply twist a free piece of the fake branch around the greenery.

Surprisingly, this will secure the items.  Seriously!  Mine held up in the rain, sun, and wind.  Now you may be wondering why just place one type of evergreen at a time?  Well, too many times I get over zealous and put way too much of one type at the beginning and then run out by the end of the garland.  It may seem to take awhile to make multiple passes to turn your artificial garland into the real thing but the end result looks balanced.  Plus it takes a lot less time than putting greenery up, stepping back, taking it down and moving it, stepping back again, etc… You get the picture!

Blunt ends of cut greenery can be hidden behind the garland or wrapped deep in the greenery.  While, all this seems like “work” I can assure you that it is far less effort than making a real evergreen garland from scratch.

Cheap garland can look like the real thing with these tips and tricks

Step 4 Optional Step

If you really want your artificial garland to pop throw in some more faux items.  No, I’m not joking.  Surprisingly, some faux on faux action pumps your artificial garland up in a way that makes it seem more real.  Adding in more pieces of faux garland, bits of faux berries, or other Christmas florals give it some umph!

Honestly, this is all it takes to make some fabulous garland.  A little borrowed greenery and the ability to twist some wire makes for a beautiful and cheap Christmas decoration.  So take your knowledge and make some artificial garland look real!

Make faux garland fabulous



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How to Make Evergreen Garland Video Tutorial

How to make Evergreen Garland for Christmas

If you have come here to learn how to DIY evergreen garland for Christmas you have come to the right place!  I have revamped the original tutorial with a video showing the tricks and techniques to make lovely, fresh evergreen garland for your home.  You can watch the video below and scroll down for a list of supplies and detail photos.  Or read the original How to Make Evergreen Garland or Swags post.

Supplies Needed

  1. 24 Gauge Floral Wire*
  2. Rustic Wire 18 Gauge* or Rope
  3. Pruning Shears*
  4. Gloves*: Wear the Gloves!!!!
  5. Evergreen pieces

Details: Starting the Garland

To start the evergreen garland make a loop with the thick wire.  This will be useful for hanging your garland later and give you a base to anchor the floral wire.

How to start making an evergreen garland

Really, put on your gloves after this part.  Otherwise be prepared for scratch, resin covered, hands.

Details: Wrapping the Evergreen

While, I may be awful at rapping, I am very good at wrapping.  This simple step is all you need to repeat to make a beautiful hand tied garland.

How to wrap a DIY evergreen garland.


  1. Evergreen items are cheap to free.  Walk around your back yard.  Ivy, pine, boxwood all make interesting additions.  Ask you neighbors and make sure to just cut small amounts so it does not even appear that you have been there.
  2. Do not be afraid to decorate your garland.  Additional branches, beads, and lights can make it look fabulous!
  3. Work outdoors if possible.  While the video was taken inside due to the wind, you are going to have a lot of pine needles around your house from the construction.
  4. Gloves. I am bad about wearing them. Which is why my hands are always cut and rough.

Remember if you need a full pictorial tutorial you can get a recap of the video.  Just visit my How to Make Evergreen Garland post.

How to make Evergreen Garland for Christmas

Feel like it is too much to make your own garland?  Well then read my tutorial on how to Make Artificial Garland Look Real for tips to cheat the DIY process and come out with beautiful Evergreen Christmas Garland.

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Easy Advent Calendar Garland

Detail of the easy advent calendar garland

Although today is the first day of December it is not too late to make an easy Advent Calendar.  I whipped up this awesome collection of treats just using small boxes, ribbon, and wire.  As a child, the Advent Calendar I remember fondly was a simple felt Christmas tree.  Each day I got to remove an ‘ornament’ from the date and place it on the tree.  On the 24th the star went on top.  The boys are finally old enough that I wanted to institute some traditions of my own, starting with an Advent Calendar.Tutorial on creating an easy Advent Calendar Garland


(Spoiler there isn’t a bunch of how to pictures, I am trusting you to use your brains on this one)

  • Small Boxes 12- 4″ x 4″ & 13- 3″ x 2″ (I have a Christmas Day Box if you realize that adds up to 25)
  • Various Ribbon
  • Wire (to hang boxes on)
  • Permanent Markers (colors to match ribbon)
  • Goodies to stuff in the boxes
Detail of Easy Advent Calendar Garland
Honestly, please tell me we don’t need the usual step by step photos on this one… Please…

Step 1: If You Saved Money & Bought Flat Boxes

If you have cash take the boxes that are pre-assembled.  If you didn’t, grab a beer and start folding.  Maybe catch up on Sherlock or Dexter.  Continue folding.  Stop to put on lotion because the paper has dried out your hands. Continue folding.  You get the idea….

Step 2: Divvy Up The Loot

I bought cheap little things like Hershey’s Kisses, marbles, couple little Hot Wheels, etc.  I made sure there was two of everything (since this is supposed to be fun and not a fight between siblings) and put some thought into days.  For example, I got two small craft kits and made sure to pick a weekend box so I could do the craft with the boyos and packed a special Christmas Morning box to finish it off.  Genius Moment!: I penciled the date in on the bottom of the boxes.Detail of the easy advent calendar garland

Step 3: If You Got To Skip Step 1

Ha ha ha.  If you skipped step one, then this is your payback.  Now tie tiny bows on all the boxes. Drink wine and catch up on the Daily Show.  Congratulate yourself on nominally watching some educational ‘news’ while crafting.

I tied a simple bow on each one.  This was on purpose (not just laziness/ beer) as the boys could each grab one side of the bow and untie it together. Take a moment to bask in the present-opening, brotherly-love scene I played out in my head. In actuality it played out exactly as I pictured which was damn good!

The key to uniformity of the garland is to pick coordinating ribbon.  I did a mix of bakers twine and satin ribbon in red and white.

Step 4: Marker Your Territory

If you have lovely handwriting, then I am envious and you can just go write in your numbers.  I cut out a 0-9 stencil using my Silhouette and created my numbers using red and gold permanent markers

Step 5: Ho Ho Hanging

String a selection of presents on the wire and hang.  I simply strung the wire under the bows.  I left some of the packages off and used extra ribbon to tie them in place staying nominally in day order.

More Details of the Advent Calendar Garland


We just pull off the correct box in the morning.  Then let the boys finish untying it and watch them get super excited about tiny trinkets.  Later I just tie the empty box back in place, which, is a hell of a lot easier than trying to move an elf around each night.  Bonus: Tie a special colored ribbon around that box of the day!

Advent Calendar Garland as part of a larger Christmas mantel
This is not my final Christmas Mantel. Though I will have a tutorial for the bleached/dyed bottle brush trees this week.

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See more great DIY and Decor at these link parties: Dream A Little Bigger, Craft-O-Maniac, By Stephanie Lynn