how to create beautiful garlands | christmas decorating

by | Dec 3, 2021 | Decorating, Holiday, Winter | 5 comments

I remember buying my first Christmas garland for my college apartment.  It was the kind that was a single strand with thin plastic needles.  It was an unnatural shade of green and looked nothing like real evergreens.  But, I wrapped it with lights and hung it up around my apartment, proud of my efforts.  After being married for about six years, Jeff and I bought our first house and I had a lot of pent-up decorating energy to throw at all 1,100 square feet of that 1980s townhouse.  I was super excited about decorating for the holidays and felt I had graduated from my college-apartment-style garland.  I bought artificial greens that were on clearance after Thanksgiving, mixed in some Christmas evergreens, picked everything apart, and made my own wreaths, garlands, and swags.  That started my can’t-leave-well-enough-alone when it comes to using artificial greens.  They just look so much better when you do a little mixing and customizing.  These are a few of my tips on how to create beautiful garlands for the holidays, whether you’re working with real or artificial greenery.

how to create beautiful garlands | start with a good foundation

Start with a garland that you like.  I have a few different artificial garlands I use – eucalyptus, pine, and cedar.  Some of them are easier to shape and some are more rigid, so I decide which garland I’ll start with based on its characteristics.  Around a picture frame or mirror, for example, I like to use something that is a little floppier and less structured, like eucalyptus or cedar.  For garland along a banister, I use something with more structure like pine that I can mix with greens that are more feathery.

This foundation gives you something to tuck and tie other greens and embellishments into.

creating beautiful christmas garland | holiday decorating | miss mustard seed

how to create beautiful garlands | create bundles

As I said, I like to cut apart greens and mix them together.  I do that with both fresh and faux.  It makes the arrangement more interesting and adds more visual texture.  In the case of artificial greens, it makes them look more convincing.  I just cut apart sprigs from larger bunches or garlands with wire cutters and group together a few different varieties…

creating beautiful christmas garland | holiday decorating | miss mustard seed

…and then I’ll tie them together with some florist wire or, as I did below, a bent ornament hook.

creating beautiful christmas garland | holiday decorating | miss mustard seed

I’ll tie those bunches into the garland to create a fuller, more interesting garland…

creating beautiful christmas garland | holiday decorating | miss mustard seed

Artificial garlands can sometimes be a little “one-note.”  They are all the same color or texture or there is a repeated shape.  This breaks that up and makes it harder to spot.

And I don’t mind my garlands going a little wild.  I think it makes them look more playful and, in the case of artificial, it makes them look a little more realistic.

creating beautiful christmas garland | holiday decorating | miss mustard seed

how to create beautiful garlands | add in natural elements

I do this with faux and live, but it’s especially important if you’re working with artificial pieces – mix in some natural elements like dried flowers, fruit, nuts, pinecones, etc.  In the case of my mantle, I even added some seashells.  Adding those natural elements brings in some new textures, colors, and elevates the artificial greens.  It becomes hard to spot what’s real and what’s fake!

creating beautiful christmas garland | holiday decorating | miss mustard seed

how to create beautiful garlands | add embellishments

Mix in embellishments like ribbons, ornaments, bells, lights, etc.  Think about texture, shine, color, and scale when selecting these elements.  I like adding pieces with a little shine or sparkle to play off the matte finish of the greens.  Velvet ribbon is also a favorite way to add soft texture and some color.  I just draped a bunch of ribbon in two shades of blue along with a couple of brass bells to dress up our banister in the foyer.  (Notice the mixed greens in the garland, too?)

Oh, and as a note, I was introduced to these garland ties for banisters this year and they are awesome!  You can find them in lots of colors HERE.  I got mine in olive green, but they are sold out.

how to create beautiful garlands | christmas decorating | miss mustard seed

As far as purchasing artificial greens, I have picked them up over the years and from a little bit of everywhere.  Terrain, Ballard Designs, Target, Walmart, and Hobby Lobby are where I’ve bought most of my greens.  Most of my extra sprigs of greenery aren’t specifically Christmas greens.  I love using faux rosemary, boxwood, and lamb’s ear, and this year I added magnolia leaves.

creating beautiful christmas garland | holiday decorating | miss mustard seed

HERE is a post showing how I decorate my chandelier with greenery.

As you’re putting out your garlands this year, I hope this gives you some fresh ideas!  If you use live garlands, I would suggest mixing in some artificial sprigs that you can reuse each year.  It’ll require storing a few things, but it’ll save money in the long run.

You can find more decorating ideas, recipes, and Christmas crafts HERE.


  1. Alli for Short

    I don’t even decorate for the holidays & these are beautiful! I’m definitely thinking I have to start collecting bits of greenery when they go on sale and make garlands to bring that natural element in doors. And that luxe velvet ribbon sort of streaming down the side? Too pretty and welcoming for words!

  2. Betty Sparrow

    I found a really pretty faux olive garland at Target from Hearth and Home. Have you worked with olive leaves before? I am not sure what to mix it with.

  3. Irene Kelly

    I make a lot of sprays and wreaths from frsh greens on our property and use bells, artificial flowers and lots of ribbons and we put some on graves of relatives each year. It’s a lit of work for me but we’ll worth it just knowing our family appreciates all my extra work. Really like your banister how you used the streamers of ribbon but no big bow on the top ?

  4. Fenne

    Very beautiful!

  5. Kris B

    Can you share where you are purchasing the brass bells from? They are so darn cute & look like antique ones…thanks.



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