Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gorgeous Garland on the Cheap

Let the Christmas decoration posting begin! I've been hard at work crafting and decorating my first grownup pad, and I plan to post as much about it as possible.

I absolutely love the Outdoor Ornament Pine Garland from Pottery Barn, but at $59 for 60”, that wasn’t happening. So, like I do when I see something I love but can’t afford, I decided to try to make it myself for a more affordable price.  

Super beautiful garland via Pottery Barn
Like the inspiration garland, I chose to use the type of garland with branches on it so that the ornaments could nestle among the branches. I actually decided to put my own spin on the garland by choosing to use pre-lit garland, so that my creation would illuminate our house at night.

A few tips on selecting artificial garland:
  •  A forest green color tends to look more life-like than the bright green stuff. Not that trees can’t be bright green, but I find that that the bright green color makes the texture of the artificial material more apparent and thus less lifelike. 
  • Garland with flimsy branches will be in expensive, but if you’re planning to attach anything to the garland or even put it outside, you’re better off finding garland with sturdy branches. You especially don’t want the branches themselves to come off of the garland. 
  • If you plan to wrap your garland around something, you should probably select the rope-style garland without branches because pine garland can be too wide to wrap around the spokes of a railing.
  • Pre-lit garland saves a lot of money and ensures that the lights are attached to the garland with slightly more depth.
  • If you prefer not to purchase pre-lit garland, garland lights will illuminate your garland far better than a regular string of lights will. Garland lights have are a string of light clusters, rather than a string of one light after another.  
Craft stores and nurseries often sell very nice garland, but since I wanted mine for outside use and I was on a budget, I headed to Target and Walmart. I ended up selecting Walmart’s 9-foot pre-lit pine garland for because it frankly felt sturdier and looked more realistic than Target’s. And at $10 each, it was significantly more affordable than Michael’s 9-foot garland that was selling for $25.  

Walmart 9 ft Pre-Lit Garland -- $10
 While I prefer the solid color ornaments on the PB garland, I was hard-pressed to find sets of solid plastic ornaments at less than $5 for 18 ornaments, and I knew that I would need quite a few ornaments for each one. I found this set of 101 red, white and silver shatter-resistant (read: plastic) ornaments by Martha Stewart for Home Depot. The ornaments have kind of a candy cane theme going on, but at $21.95, it would work for what I was trying to create.

One of my favorite parts of the PB inspiration garland was the mixture of different sized ornaments. To give my garland a little more interest, I bought two boxes of larger red ornaments from Home Depot and four boxes of little red and silver ornaments from Walmart.

To make the garland, I first “fluffed” the garland, bending the branches away from the garland to make it look fuller. You may want to wear garden gloves for this process because working with nice garland can really cut up your hands. I then plugged the lights so that I was able to consider the placement of the lights while attaching the ornaments.

To attach the ornaments, I threaded a 4-inch piece of floral wire through the end of the ornament, secured the wire tightly around the branch, and wrapped extra wire ends around the rest of the branch. I used a pattern of one larger ornament and two medium-sized ornaments to start the process. After I completed the garland with the large and medium ornaments, I went through the entire piece and randomly attached the small ornaments. This process of working with this floral wire can also scratch up your hands.

Here’s the breakdown of materials I used for each piece of garland:

  • Railings – 2 pieces of Walmart 9 ft pre-lit pine garland
  • Door – 1 piece of Home Depot 25 ft pre-lit pine garland
  • Large red ornaments: 1 box of 18 matte, glossy, and glittery Home Accents Holiday ornaments from Home Depot
  • Medium ornaments: about 1/3 of a 101 piece set of Martha Stewart Living Ornaments from Home Depot
  • Small ornaments: a little less than 1 box of 16 Holiday Time Mini Shatterproof Ornaments
  • Floral Wire from Michael’s

I used two lengths of garland on each railing on our front walk. Since 18 feet was way too long (I really needed about 13 feet), I swagged the garland and let the end of it hang along the railing.  I used one long piece of floral wire to attach the garland to the railing in each place, and secured it tightly by crossing the wires over each other and twisting them. After the garland was secure, I folded a longer piece of floral wire in half and wrapped it around the garland and the railing to hold the weight of the garland.

In addition to the garland on the railings, I made another length of garland to put around our door. For this project, I used 25-foot pre-lit garland from Home Depot. It was in a box when I bought it, and I found it to be disappointingly flimsy when I started working with it. But I actually think the flimsier garland was better for over the door because it was lighter and slightly more narrow, making it easier to attach securely.

To attach the garland over the door, I placed a large nail on each corner and one in the center of the door frame. Then I took a long piece of floral wire, folded it in half, and wrapped it a few times around the nail before securing it to the garland. After wrapping it around the garland a few times, I wrapped the excess around the nail. I also took a long piece of wire and looped it loosely around the bottom of the garland through a spoke in the railing to prevent it from blowing around too much on in windy weather.

I am so thrilled with the result! I especially love that the house looks festive during the day and night.

The total cost of this project was:
  • Garland:
    • 4 pieces of 9-foot garland: $40
    • 1 piece of 25-foot garland: $20
  • 1 set of 101 medium ornaments: $22
  • 3 sets of 18 medium ornaments: $15
  • 3 sets of 16 small ornaments: $9
  • Floral wire: $2
Total: $108 for 61 feet of garland

Brace yourself: The same amount of the Pottery Barn inspiration garland would’ve cost nearly $720 without tax and shipping. Even when it was on sale (according to my catalog) it would’ve cost $665. So even though $108 sounds like a lot, when you consider it’s over $600 cheaper than the inspiration garland, I’m deeming this one a success.

1 comment:

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