December 8, 2009

Christmas Decorating Tips: Garlands


Here are some Christmas decorating tips my friends and family seem to be eager to learn from me regarding garlands:

If you notice in the magazines, interior decorated houses or holiday gift stores, their garlands are always so thick and lush.  Well it has to be doesn't it?  I mean how else will you be able to add all of the designer ornaments, lights and ribbon. Instead of paying for a high priced garland, this is what I do in my house. 

Garland Type
Figure out how much garland you need by measuring with a tape measure.  Make sure to account for any swagging or draping at the ends.  Go to your local craft store (I only use Michael's but your favorite store will have it) and purchase double the amount of evergreen garland you need.  This garland is approximate $3 for nine feet. 

Thick and Lush
When you get home fluff the garlands by separating and straightening each branch.  Combine the two garlands into one thick, lush garland by lining them up on the floor parallel and wiring them together. I typically use florists wire to wire them.  This insures they will not come apart.  However, one year I was feeling lazy and just used the wired branches themselves to wrap around the other garland for a quick fix.  There you have it a thick, lush evergreen garland ready for decorating.

Lights
When decorating my garland, I prefer an elegant look by using the white mini Christmas Lights with green wiring.  They come in a box of 150 (enough for 3 garlands end to end).  However, you can buy them in boxes of 50 and 100 count if your garland is shorter in length.  Add the lights making sure to space them out consistently.  Wire the lights on using the wired branches to hold the lights in place.  This makes it easier if I need to replace the strand the following year.

Add the Ornaments
Using a florists green wire paddle (found in the florists foam & hot glue gun isle of Michael's), wire your ornaments onto your wreath. If your garland is around your fireplace where there is not a lot of foot traffic only using the wired branches of the garland should do okay.  But if your garland is on a stairs banister or around your door or porch outside, I highly recommend using the florists wire to secure your ornaments.  Also, make sure your ornaments are safe for outdoor use.  If not, they can either fade from the sun or melt when it rains so read the tags.


Archive
I take several pictures of each of my garlands with my digital camera.  I've created a Holiday Decorating Archive file in my pictures folder on my computer.  Under this folder I've created a sub-folder of the year and another sub-folder named garlands. I can refer to these pictures next year to help speed up the decorating process.

Disassemble
So when packing up my decorations for storage, I cut the wire holding the ornaments in place and store them separately from the garland.  I do the same thing for the lights. Yes, I disassemble every garland in my house at the end of the season.  Why go to this much trouble?  It saves me money:
  • Broken lights-It never fails there will be a strand of lights that either doesn't work at all or only half works.  It is easier to replace if I know this before hanging my garland.  
  • Customized look-Each year the garland is custom made to a specific environment.  So if I want to hang the garland a little differently this year, no problem since I start fresh every year.  Additionally, garland with prewired ornaments gets twisted and does not display the ornaments pleasingly in following years.
  • Easy to change- If you want to change your ornaments due to your color scheme or style changing in the room or even if some ornaments are starting to look shabby, this method makes replacement easier since you custom design the garland each year.

I realize this is a tedious task but it works for me by saving me money, hopefully it will help you too.


Storing Garland
At the end of the season make sure to pack your ornaments, lights and garland away securely so they look just as good for next year. Wrap each ornament separately or with like ornaments.  Wrap lights in tissue paper.  Feel free to fold the garland up as little as possible taking up as little room as possible since you begin fresh next year when you fluff out the branches. 

I hope this tip on designing garlands will save you money in the long run like it does for me.

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