Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Practically free Christmas Decorating

Our front door tends to look a little drab at the best of times, so I decided that some Christmas decorating was in order. We have a juniper topiary in the front yard that looks scraggly if it doesn't get a good pruning every year, and some pine shrubs that were encroaching on my tomato patch, so I spent a half-hour or so with the pruning shears and got 2-3 five-gallon pails worth of foliage. I also clipped some seed pods from my Rose of Sharon bushes for decoration. The only other materials were:

  • Cotton twine/yarn (green or brown is easiest to camouflage, of course)
  • A spool of galvanized wire
  • Optional: A red berry garland ($3.50 at JoAnn this time of year), or any other trims, ribbons, floral picks you like.
  • A tape measure, and nails for hanging.
  • gardening gloves (A lot of sap in there!)

The process was time-consuming, but really quite simple. Begin by tying the string and wire together (I recommend keeping both on their spools, if possible. lay a branch on the string, and wrap the wire around both once or twice to secure it. Lay the next branch so that the pretty end overlaps your wire wraps, and wrap the wire around the stem end to secure it. 

Since this garland was only going to be seen from one side, I kept everything on the same side of the string, but you should work things around all sides if it will be hung on a banister or other such location.

Add the other decorations as desired, wrapping them together with a piece of the greenery. When I wanted to add the berry garland (cut in halves), I just held it together with the string and made sure the branches didn't hide the berries as I went. I also sorted out some of the more interesting branches (with attractive berries or pine cones) to intersperse with the decorations as well. Give the string a good firm tug every few wraps to make sure you haven't introduced any loops or slack.
The project took a few hours, all told, and I'm very pleased with the result. The same idea works well on a wreath form. You can either purchase one, or make your own from a pool noodle or a couple layers of sturdy cardboard (I wouldn't recommend the latter for anything long term, but it should last as long as live greenery).

A couple of helpful notes:

  • I tied/twisted loops in the string and the wire once I got to the corners, for hanging. I recommend stopping a few inches short of your door measurement, because the vertical sections of the garland will stretch once you hang it. 
  • For my doorway, I saved the smallest branches for the top section, so that nothing would interfere with opening the door.
  • I worked on the front step, since the weather's been so warm, but I'd recommend laying down newspaper if you're working inside, to catch sap and stray needles. 
  • If your garland is living inside, mist it with a spray bottle every couple of days to keep it fresh.