I love a really full mantel garland. This year I tried a new way to assemble and hang it. Read on to learn how to take your garland from blah to wow!
This Year’s Holiday Mantel
I started working on my blog post for this week on Thursday.
I was going to share my Christmas trees, so I spent the afternoon getting the tree in the guest cottage set up and taking pictures of this year’s three trees.
In the evening I began the actual writing.
And then that night I switched gears to finish pulling my living room mantel together.
I have been all over the place like that with my decorating this year….
This year I decided to try a new technique to assemble and hang the garland that I learned from my friend Suzanne, @suzannezinggstyle on Instagram. Suzanne creates the most spectacular mantel garlands, as well as beautiful table settings and seasonal displays. Her home is more formal than mine, but I thought the method she uses would translate well to my rustic style too.
So I got to work at around 9:30 at night…
You know where this is going, right? Do you find yourself faffing and fluffing your house into the wee hours this time of year?? That is often when my creative juices start to flow, for some reason.
At first it was rough going, and I thought about stopping and trying again the next day. But then I got into the groove and it all came together.
But I LOVE how it turned out!
And I decided I needed to share this with you immediately in case you are still working on your mantel and want to give it a try.
So read on to discover what this garland trick is!
Garland Supply List
To get a really full garland here are the supplies you need:
- 1 or more cheap bendy garlands: These are used for the base. I got mine at Walmart for a couple dollars.
- 3 or more high quality garlands: These are the garlands you will see. What you choose is a matter of taste and the look you are going for. I wanted a natural rustic look, so I used two plain garlands I had from Walmart and one embellished with blue berries and pinecones that I found at HomeGoods last year. I shared some sources for garlands in my post Planning My Holiday Home Part 1 | Greenery and Decor .
- Greenery picks and other embellishments: Again, these can be different for everyone. Suzanne uses everything from ribbons, large florals, and ornaments to simple greenery picks. I was going for a natural look, so I used pieces of cut up garlands and foraged branches. Yes, branches. You know me!
- Nails or Command hooks
- Floral Wire: This is to attach the garland. Some people also use pipe cleaners (green or brown to blend in). And I know someone who swears by zip ties for her mantel garlands.
- CHICKEN WIRE!: This is the key to Suzanne’s bold garlands. It is what you secure everything to. I ordered mine from Amazon, but you can probably get it at Lowes, Home Depot, or your local hardware store. Bonus — it can also be used for floral displays. Can’t wait to try that too!
Are you ready to get hanging?
Assembling and Hanging the Garland
Here are step-by-step instructions to assemble and hang your garland
1. Attach the nails or Command hooks to your mantel.
My mantel is a rustic beam, so I just hammer nails into it. I used a total of 5 nails to support the garland. I would say better safe than sorry in this situation. You don’t want the whole thing to come crashing down.
2. Cut a piece of chicken wire the length of the mantel and hook the chicken wire over the nails or hooks.
I used wire cutters to cut the chicken wire. Be careful, the cut edges are a little sharp and tend to catch on things. Don’t worry if it the chicken wire hangs down too far. You will trim it once you are done.
3. Attach the bendy garland to the chicken wire by using the little branches like a twist-tie.
I only used one of these garlands, but in retrospect, I think it would have been easier to use one bendy garland for each quality garland. (Three in my case.) I will explain my reason why in step 5. Let the bendy garland hang down on either side. (I like a slightly asymmetrical drape.)
4. Again, using the bendy garland branches like twist-ties, attach the first quality garland.
I did this in two pieces so that the garland would hang with the branches facing down on each side.
5. Attach the other quality garlands using floral wire or the bendy garland.
I attached my other two garlands using floral wire. I found it a little tricky looping the wire back through the chicken wire and around the garland. The bendy garland is so much easier! Plus, it seems more secure and also creates a good green base for the garland. I placed the plain garlands on the top and bottom and then the embellished one in the middle, sort of layered over the other two.
6. Cut off the excess chicken wire and tuck in any pieces that are showing.
7. You are done with your garland base! Now for the fun part!
It is time to get really creative!
First, step back and take a look at your garland.
Fill in any holes or thin spots with extra pieces of garland. You probably won’t need to attach these with wire, just push them into holes in the chicken wire.
Continue to do the same with other embellishments.
I used pieces of a juniper garland I cut up. I love the light blue berries!
Then I added my favorite lichen-covered branches I forage in the woods here. Again, I just wedged these into the holes in the chicken wire.
Keep going until your garland is as simple or elaborate as you want!
This was my first time using this technique, so I didn’t try anything too fancy. Another time I might go for a swag, add more vertical pieces, or maybe something a little more dramatic on either end. For now, though, I am perfectly happy with my full natural-looking garland.
Here is a link to Suzanne’s tutorial saved to her story highlights on Instagram. You will definitely want to check out Suzanne’s IG page. She is so incredibly creative!
The Rest of My Mantel Decor
I generally keep my holiday decor pretty simple.
But for the living room mantel, I do go all out.
Inspired by my walks with Maddie and Cisco, I wanted it to have a wild coastal Maine woodland feel — greenery, pinecones, lichen covered branches, and of course pops of ocean blue.
My Embellished Wreath
I embellished a faux greenery wreath with the same elements I used on the garland — juniper pieces and foraged sticks.
You may have figured out that I am a bit obsessed with these branches that I find littering the forest floor! They have so much character! I can’t go on a walk this time of year without bringing a few home!
A hammered bell and a three-ribbon bow, are the finishing touches. For now I am using the bow from last year. I have some new ribbon on order. We will see what I come up with!
This is the third year I am using this vintage artillery basket on the mantel for my holiday display.
I actually attach it to the mantel with some screws to keep it from tipping over. Thank heavens for that rustic beam mantel!
I changed things up a bit this year a bit with the wreath instead of the large bells I have used previously. And I added some branches to the greenery the basket holds.
Once I was done with basket and garland, I tucked a few more of the natural elements in on the sides of the mantel.
You will have to come on a walk with me, Maddie, and Cisco to get some of the branches!
This Week Into Next
I have been busy this week with holiday decorating.
And if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I also did some re-decorating earlier this week, when I made a large and unexpected furniture purchase.
On Black Friday we did some shopping in Kennebunk/Kennebunkport, and I fell head-over-heals in love with an 1800’s folk-painted Bavarian cupboard. It is a spectacular piece and I was lucky to get it at 60% off since the store is going out of business.
I will share more about this piece and my love of antique painted furniture in the new year!
Suffice it to say, these days I might be spending more time facing inwards, admiring my new piece, than looking outwards at the ocean view!
This weekend and next week I plan to finish my holiday decorating. I need to go order my natural wreaths and garlands for outside. There is still work to be done in the dining room, which includes swapping out the dishes in the big hutch. I have a few new additions coming from my friends at Caskata this year, which I am excited about!
And I have some more Christmas shopping to do. I have a lot of gift ideas; I just need to make the purchases.
Like many of you, I have a lot going on. At the same time, though, I am trying to stop and savor the beauty of the season. I am looking forward to joining friends at a wreath-decorating get-together on Sunday!
And thankfully, I have a jump start on my blog post for next week!
Be sure to let me know if you give the chicken-wire garland method a try!
Thanks for “hanging” out with me and my garland today!