How to Make a Natural Garland for the Holidays

A natural garland can dress up a doorway, mantle or tabletop during the holiday season.

| December 1991/January 1992

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    Tying the bundled drieds onto the base, spacing out the bunches before gluing and fastening the goodies in place with a glue gun.
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    A close-up of a completed section of holiday garland.

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In the first weeks of december, as I start bringing boxes of Christmas decorations down from the attic, I also begin thinking of what I can make to add to the holiday feel in my home. Along with traditional greens and a pinecone wreath, a natural garland is at the top of my list. A nice backdrop for decorations collected over the years, a garland smells terrific, is extremely versatile and long-lasting and gives a wonderful old-fashioned Christmas look to any home.

I used to decorate the doors, windows and hallways of my house with long single strands of undecorated pine. After a few years, I still liked the look of it, but became intrigued with creating something a little wilder, a little richer looking — a piece that would catch the eye with some color. What I didn't realize at the time was how versatile a natural garland would be for all my holiday decorating needs.

If you're anything like me, more items come out of boxes each day as the Christmas season progresses, and arrangements change over the weeks, either to accommodate space or just to let a decoration take a new spot for a while. A natural garland is very adaptable for these ongoing changes: One 6-foot garland can start as an over-the-door piece, then move to the mantel or be used lengthwise down a door front. And for a Christmas brunch, it makes a lovely centerpiece. The following instructions for one 6-foot natural garland can be used to make larger or smaller ones — simply double or halve the amount of the supplies on the list below.

Foraging for many of the materials you'll need is a fine way to get out in the winter air and exercise a bit. (If you don't have some item — or if you didn't save some of the drieds from autumn — then purchase them at a crafts store and remind yourself to collect them next fall.) You'll be surprised at how much material you can actually gather in the wintry woods and fields around your home.

Although the supplies listed for this garland may also vary slightly depending on where you live, the basic assembly of the garland remains the same. I'm simply giving you my choice of materials and some alternatives. And while it may turn out differently from what you're used to, the smell will be so intoxicating and the look so Christmasy, you won't be able to pass it by.

The first place to gather, of course, is in the pine grove. (Make sure you wear work gloves and take hand clippers and one or two large buckets.) When I cut, I look for scattered branches so that I won't leave a tree looking like someone has just hacked it up.

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