Thursday, November 19, 2015

How to "Build" Garland

Recently I posted a photo on Instagram displaying my stairway garland.  A few of ya'll wanted to know how to recreate it and I gave a brief description about how I use multiple layers to "build" it.

Today, I'm going to provide more details into my garland process.

The finishing result produces thick glorious garland full of pine cones, berries, lights, leaves and greenery.

The fact that I already have my garland hanging and it's only mid-November should be a tell tell sign that I don't use fresh greenery on the stairs.  My rationale is that it's such a heavily trafficked area so artificial greenery can withstand the traffic and hold up over time.  Plus, I'm able to get a jump start on my seasonal decorations and I know they will last the entire holiday season.

Supplies Needed: 

Here are the ingredients that I use when "building" my garland.  I say BUILD because it truly is a layering and adding process.  (But very simple).  

1. Higher Grade Garland
2. Layering "Roped" Garland with Berries
3. Sprigs and Fillers
4. Lights
5. Garland Ties
6. Extension Cords

1. Select a higher quality garland from your local craft store.  

It should include real pinecones, life-like berries and a few extras such as twigs.  Anything that further enhances the "real" appearance.  It usually retails for $40-100 (but it is ALWAYS 50% off, so you should expect to pay $18-30 per strand.   I used Michael's Celebrate It Winter Naturals $18.

2.  Select a decorative strand of "wrapping" garland.  

By this, I mean the ropes that contain holly and berries.  Or just berries that are strung together.   These ropes are usually located in a separate section away from the greenery.
I found ropes of small berries from Michael's (not pictured here but very similar to the holly with faux berries as seen in this photo).  Again, it is ALWAYS 50% off and will likely run around $7 per rope.

3.  Select fillers and sprigs

This aisle in any craft store is usually the most daunting.  In it's entirety, it's easy to dismiss this aisle as a bunch of tacky and elaborate bins filled with gawdy decorations.  Take time to hone in on each individual bin and picture each sprig on it's own.

Look for life like berries that can be added into your garland.  I always go for the berries that do not have any dazzle, meaning no sparkle or glitter falling off of them.   I try to pick things that look like they could be found in nature.

5. Select Lights

I use white lights.  Make sure they can connect multiple strands together.  The craft stores usually have them discounted and a package of 100 will usually cost around $6.  I always purchase more than I think I will use...and I always need more than I have purchased! 

6.  Garland 

Garland Ties are my LIFESAVER!  They make the job so much easier and are a must.  I use the plastic ties from Lowes (Holiday Living 10-pack Plastic Garland Ties $3.99).  


7. Extension Cords

I usually use one cord at the bottom of the stairs and one at the top for obvious reasons, to plug in the lights! 

Process for Building Garland: 

I wish I had photos of the actual layering process but I didn't capture those.  Still, once you have all of the ingredients, building the garland becomes simple.  

1.  Start with the "higher quality" garland and use the garland ties to affix to the railing.  A few tips: I usually start at the top of the stairs and work down.  I do NOT waste time wrapping the garland in between all of the individual posts.  I line the garland on the top part of the banister and tie the garland ties every 3-4 feet to hold it in place.  (This is the only time I use the garland ties).  

2.  Drape the roped berries on top of the greenery.  Tips: Start at the top of the stairs and work down.   Do not simply lie directly on top.  Attempt to make it appear natural with a "s" shape formation over the greenery garland.  

3. Add Lights.  Determine where the most logical location will be to plug in your lights.  For example, i have an outlet at the bottom of the stairs that is hidden behind a dresser.  My outlet at the top of the stairs is around a corner in the hallway.  Because of this, I wanted my "plug in" location to be at the bottom of the stairs where it will be hidden.  Determine your "start" location accordingly.  (For example, I begin at the top of the stairs so the plug will end up at the bottom).  

 I used to meticulously wrap the lights around the banister between each stair post.  Now, I drape the lights over the top of the greenery in an "S" shape and use the wire from the greenery to "hold" the lights in place.  (Wrap a few of the twigs over the light cord to secure in place).  

4. Add Fillers.  Take the sprigs of berries and pine cones and plug into parts of the garland that appear bare.  You may find that you don't need many fillers by this point.  

5. Ribbon.  I do not add ribbon to my stair banisters but it certainly adds another dimension.  

I find that the end result of this process brings a beautiful and custom appearance.  Of course, the same can be done with fresh greenery!   

Now, I have to resist the temptation to turn on the lights until after Thanksgiving.  It's nice to get a jump start on the decorating, but I have to pretend that we're still singing pumpkins and gourds at our house until December!  

To check out some of Vivid Hue Home's previous Christmas decor, look here:

Check out my live decorating updates on Instagram

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