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My Favorite Tricks for Fancy Christmas Garland

Friends, we should stage a revolt. No longer shall we stand for the lame, thin faux Christmas garland they sell in stores. At approximately 2 inches around, it looks like an annoying fuzzy worm – not like beautiful, lush designer Christmas greenery. No one is fooled by you, cheapo garland!

Fortunately, I have a solution and it is fa-REE. Zero dollars.

First, start with some store-bought “garland.” (I know we’re supposed to be revolting against it, but we’re conveniently going to start our revolt next year.) Here’s my little one-dollar strand making my entertainment center look festive, beautiful and lush pitiful and neglected.
Double it over on itself if you have enough. This makes a huge difference almost no difference, but we’ll take it.

Now we’re gonna fancy it up with some fresh greens! Head outside and get clippings of everything you can find. My favorite clippings are from these leyland cypress trees that line my backyard for privacy.

Weston also helped me pick some clippings from my neighbor’s ginormous holly bush. (With her permission of course. I’m no holly thief. But don’t let me near your eucalyptus.)

Now you might be thinking…

This tip is all well and good when your neighbor grows holly in abundance and cypress trees are right there in your YARD. But I live in:

  • The middle of Manhattan
  • An arid desert in the Middle East
  • A hidden colony under the ocean
  • freakin’ outer space.

First, congratulations on achieving internet connection with the Earth, and if this is you, please let me know in the comments section. Second, I have another free solution for you! This is my fave.

We buy live Christmas trees now that we have Weston. (We stopped using our artificial tree because they often contain lead and other hazardous chemicals. Even if we could stop the kiddo from touching the tree, it can spread lead dust on all your things (!!) so live trees it is, until we can find a good safe artificial one.) The best, cheapest source we’ve found so far is Home Depot. (But if you know somewhere better, I’m all ears!)

When you go to Lowe’s or Home Depot (or maybe any tree farm? Not sure), they usually cut the branches off the bottom of your tree as a free service – then discard those branches in a giant barrel. Here’s the giant barrel at my local Home Depot:
It’s like a GIANT POT OF GOLD, no?! Are ya with me?

They let you take as much as you want, free. So we load up the back of the car and bring that stash home. If you live near me and didn’t know about this hidden treasure, please don’t take it all next year. But I can just use my pepper spray if it comes to that, Black Friday style.

Here’s my take, along with the clippings from the yard:
Then just fill in your store-bought garland with clippings of everything. I don’t attach it in any way; just stick the live clippings in to the faux stuff, and it seems to hold pretty well. The variety of different greens adds all kindsa textural fun and makes it thick, full and fluffy. I kinda don’t think you can add too much.

I’m still playing with embellishments and adding garland everywhere. So far I’ve only added it here to the TV and to my staircase…

Awesome tips! No more cheapo thin garland!!

…but more is on the way!

Have you started your holiday decorating yet? Any other great sources for free fresh greenery?

Let's connect


  1. This garland is BEAUTIFUL!!! How amazingly brilliant of you!! 😀

  2. You crack me up! Wouldn’t it be cool to blog from outer space??

    I love these tricks. The only problem is I can’t be in the same house as a live evergreen or I shall die of allergy attacks. So fake tree it is for me. I just don’t use ugly garland at all! I buy that decomesh stuff and fluff it in, on, around, and about my home to add some holiday cheer! 🙂

    Three cheers to starting the garland revolt next year!! 🙂

  3. That is so, so, so smart! I never think about adding garland to my home but after this post, I think I need to!

  4. Love love love it!!! Such a great idea, specially if those stores are just going to throw the branches away anyway! I REALLY like your staircase garland, I never considered jazzing it up with some beads and ornaments! I’m inspired! 🙂

  5. That looks great! I would love to do that, but my husband is allergic to, well, nature. Unfortunately, fresh greens aren’t an option for us. But, on the bright side, I don’t have to deal with sweeping up pine needles every other day between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day 🙂

  6. Very clever!!

    I’d love for you to share this project over at my Inspiration Party at Simply Christmas ~

  7. Holy cow! Now that’s a F.A.N.C.Y garland! I just got a rather sad looking bit of plastic masquerading as a Christmas garland from Amazon so I need all the help I can get! I’m in the middle of London so tree cuttings are hard to come across but I’m off to charm the guys on the Christmas tree stall to get the cuttings! Thanks for the tip!

  8. Fancy! I like it. A lot. Now my fake stuff on the stairs looks puny. Thanks. Come over and fix mine with your fancy skills. Show off. 😉

  9. What a clever idea! Love the one on the banister! Thanks for sharing:)

  10. Love all of your ideas. I found my garlands at JoAnn fabrics for $.69 each last year after the stuff went on clearance at 90% off. It’s great for dressing up everything. Your idea of grabbing the natural stuff would be great for an outside wreath too. Just make a wire hanger into a circle and wire the branches to it. Easy!
    BTW, found you at Tatertots and Jello link party.

  11. Erin @ His & Hers says:

    Your garland looks so pretty! I’d be jealous if I was reading this from a hidden colony under the ocean. Actually, I have like none of the things you were able to include in yours…so for all I know, I AM living in a colony under the ocean. 🙂

  12. Thanks for the tip about Home Depot! My son has a centerpiece project coming up in his kindergarten class and I have to send greenery with him… This will be great!

  13. Great tip about Home Depot. I’ve always saved the clippings from our tree to re-use around the house, but it never occurred to me to ask HD for their clippings. Your entertainment center and banister are looking so festive, btw!

  14. I love these ideas. I need to get to Hime Depot and Lowe’s for some free greenery. Your garlands look beautiful.


  15. What an incredible difference! You made it look just beautiful!

  16. Wow! All those wonderful clippings really made a huge difference! Great job and thanks for the tips! 🙂

  17. This is beautiful and such a great idea! I have one question for you cause I’d like to help out my pathetic garland strands out with clippings from the juniper bush in our yard, but how do you keep them green? Whenever we prune the clippings turn brown within a couple of days if we don’t pick them up right away. Does the type of evergreen really matter? Thanks! Just recently found your blog and I am salivating just thinking about scouring your pages!

    • Hi! The greenery that we use kinda just… stays green… for some reason. 🙂 Try your juniper and see what happens! I’ve tried cypress and fir and they both stay green for weeks. Thanks so much for visiting the blog!

  18. Emily Lane says:

    Okay, is Weston just really good about not eating the berries on the holly branches or do you remove them? I’m going to make a trip to our home depot this weekend for some greenery. I plan to try decorating my mantel this year thanks to your inspiration! I’m working on two wreaths for it now!

  19. Ha ha, you’re hilarious! Great idea! Any ideas how long it lasts before the real greenery starts shedding?

    • I used the real stuff last year and got several weeks out of it. I’m sure it depends on what you use, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much mileage you can get.

  20. You didn’t reveal where you got your Magnolia. Do I need to track you down and stalk you until I find your poor neighbor. knocked out with pepper spray, mumbling something about a magnolia thief? I’ll do it, I promise. Unless you send me some of those leaves, ASAP.

    Oh, and PS– You’ve been featured:

  21. *Beep-Click-Honk-Click-Click-Whizzzzz*

    That’s Martian for “GREAT IDEAS”!!

    Found your darling post over at Refresh Your Nest cuz you were featured and you had Carrie ROTFLing so hard she almost woke up hubs.

    My hub is on the other side of the place, sleeps like a log but *I* almost spit coffee when caught in the middle of MY laugh!

    All smiles,
    Suzanne in NW Illinois (errr…I mean Mars)

  22. Cait @ says:

    I can’t believe the difference those clipping made. Such a great tip! Thanks!

  23. I L.O.V.E love big full lush garlands but can’t bring myself to buy them because I’m supposed to be shopping for other folks this time of year and not myself. Not anymore. I’m totally doing this!

  24. Hartgirlpdx says:

    You crack me up! I love reading your blog bc your wit makes me laugh out loud. Never mind that your ideas are totally awesome and easy to recreate! Thank you! I’ll be visiting your site often. 🙂

  25. Thank you for this!!! My cheapy thin garland was about to find a home in the garbage. I’m a little behind schedule with my decorating. Looking for some inspiration from my German neighborhood.

  26. I rarely comment on blogs because I am usually tracing a pin from Pinterest to its source, and that lands me on tons of blogs. But this time I had to make an exception. I grew up with real trees at Christmas. But when I married Hubby, and we did the 20 years in the Air Force thing, we ended up stationed some places where real trees were scarce and/or expensive. So we purchased a fake tree, and have never gone back to real trees. I don’t miss the maintenance of a real tree, but I desperately miss the smell. Your idea for bulking up pathetic garland is fabulous. And a couple snips of real pine is a great way to accomplish your task, with the added bonus of good smells! I don’t need to bulk up any garland, but the idea of getting some real pine smell has me ready to jump in the car to find some. Thank you for sharing your tip!

  27. That’s awesome!! Thank you the for the tip!

  28. O! M! GEE! I was starting to get all Grinchy cause my funds are low and I couldn’t make my house merry…. thanks so much for this idea!!! You saved the day! Merry merry!

  29. LOVE this trick – I used it to make garland for the 2 story foyer in our new house and it turned out beautifully! I shared it on my blog today as well –
    Thanks so much for the tip!!

  30. Ma’am, you are a riot! I love the witty writing as much as the project;) Happy crafting,

  31. Brilliant! One of those, “why didn’t I think of that?” I’ve already got mine all up for this year but will remember this for the years to come!

  32. Well, here we are, all the way into 2014! Some things never will go out of style, such as FREE fresh Christmas Tree GREENERY Hints! I am SO on top of this ~ as soon as they start selling & trimming their trees this Season! Thanks for this stupendous hint! (I do hope they have the same routine here in TX as where you are!). Wish me luck, creative lady!

  33. Great, funny too, post! I see people do these types of things all the time and nobody asks my question or addresses it. Sap. There should be sap all over your handrail and desktop. No? Nothing? Why not? I don’t understand? When you cut them you get sap on your hands. How does that not continue when you bring it into a warm house? Thanks for the help!

    • Haha! I don’t know why? You’re totally right — when you cut it, it gets sappy, but then I’ve never had sap all over my things. I cannot explain it. 🙂

  34. Beautiful garland!!!

    If you are willing to shop just a wee bit ahead of season, watch the artificial Christmas trees at Home Depot after Christmas. They mark them down fast a furious in order to dump them, I got a $100+ tree from there for less than $20. Sure it sat in storage for a year, but the next year I had a gorgeous tree that I practically stole. They (HD) mark their stuff down so far and then throw what doesn’t sell, guess its easier to count it as a loss than sit on it. I am not sure about the other big box stores but I would assume Fleet Farm and Menards are similar

  35. I just found your post on Pinterest and I have to commend you. Finally a pin that leads to the instructions without spending 10 mins searching or not finding it at all. And second, I love that you posted great pics with your instruction and you kept me interested with your great personality! Thanks for the idea!

  36. I love this garland idea, but how do you attach it to your bannister so it looks so pretty? I have an open staircase right inside the front door and would love to do this, but can’t seem to get it attached in a way that looks beautiful (it typically looks like eggnog soaked reindeer put it up in a rush at 2am!). Any tips on bannister attachment?

  37. Tara Schroeder says:

    Ok…. so none of those fanc, awesome looking clippings here in HAWAII …. so what can I do?!

  38. Brendaelaine Waddell says:

    Great ideas, however, if you’re concerned about potential lead in artificial trees, I feel I should point out to you that Holly BERRIES are poisonous and UNSAFE for use. Eating berries may be deadly. There isn’t enough information available to know if holly LEAVES are safe for use. The leaves can cause side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and stomach and intestinal problems.

  39. You did a great job! Why didn’t I think of that?! I will be doing this next year for sure!

  40. How pretty ????

  41. I love this idea…and you are FUNNY!

  42. I love this idea!

  43. How do you keep the fresh trimmings from drying out? I like to decorate 6 weeks before Christmas, do you just change them out when they start to brown and get brittle

  44. I love this! Thank you for sharing :o)

  45. This is awesome…unless you have a child allergic to all of Thomas live stuff and the whole reason you buy artificial is so he can stay out of an oxygen tent. I’ll just buy a bunch of the cheap artificial …..

  46. I have been raiding the Home Depot bin for years. I don’t use any of the fake garland though. I just use the branches!

  47. if you are adding the good stuff… why bother with the $store garland?

  48. Haha! I love your sense of humor! And an amazingly smart idea for free greens!
    That said, where do you think I can find the nearest Home Depot up here in space? Oh, and thanks for the congrats. I just happened to aim a shooting star at your router setup, and WALA! Instant WIFI hack! (don’t try this at home!)
    I look forward to peeping next year to see people trash binning at all their local home improvement centers! I hope Home Depot doesn’t start charging for their trash! lol

  49. Fresh greens will dry faster indoors than outdoors, but there are steps you can take to preserve the fragrance and the longevity. A lot of it has to do with the type of greenery you are purchasing. I’m happy to help anyone on here that wants to try live decorations and has questions!

  50. Cindy Carrin says:

    If you don’t want to use real, you can get cheap artificial trees and wreaths at thrift stores or from friends and relatives who throw theirs out and cut them up. I’ve saved some branches from an old artificial tree I was getting rid of and I use them to put greenery on top of tall bookcases and armoires. That being said, I’m hitting the lawn and home Depot this Christmas. I love these ideas.


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