Simplified steps to make store-bought basic garland look like expensive magazine-worthy garland on a mantel with easy embellishments.
Over the years, I have fallen in love with creating different styles of Christmas garland on our fireplace. Apparently plain store-bought garlands aren’t enough… I have to be “extra”.
But by adding a few embellishments to basic garland, the end result is a beautiful magazine-worthy focal point in the living room.
In this guide, we’ll explore how to transform basic garland into a stunning holiday display, complete with fairy lights, layers of greenery, dried fruits, leaves, and ribbon.
Just use whatever you have on hand and get crafty to add a touch of magic to your home this Christmas!
Here is a quick DIY mantel garland video tutorial to get started:
You don’t need to use all of these embellishment suggestions, but the more details you add, the more layered and upscale it will look. Use fewer embellishments if you prefer a minimalist approach.
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- Basic base garland (slightly longer than the length of your mantel – this is my favorite pine garland)
- 2-3 Command heavyweight hooks or 4-5 Command cord bundlers
- Battery operated fairy lights and batteries
- 1 Command picture hanging strip
- Faux (or real) evergreen branches and leaves
- Berry picks or sprays
- Fruits (such as dried orange slices, fresh strung cranberries, or dried pomegranates)
- Ribbon in the color of your choice (wired for a modern look or unwired for a traditional look)
- Florist wire and wire snips
- Beaded garland
Hang Your Basic Garland
Before diving into the embellishments, begin with a base garland. You can find affordable options at your local craft store or even repurpose an existing one. Whether it’s faux pine, eucalyptus, or a combination, choose a garland that suits your style and complements the rest of your holiday decorating.
My absolute favorite garland is a little more than your “basic” Walmart garland, but it looks and feels so realistic! I’ve had it for 3 years, and it still looks good as new like fresh, live pine garland.
Add Fairy Lights
Fairy lights can instantly elevate your garland, creating a warm and enchanting ambiance. Even if your base garland comes pre-lit, including fairy lights that twinkle add a little extra magic.
Start by draping the lights evenly across the garland, weaving them through the branches. Opt for warm white or multicolored lights, depending on your preference. Battery-operated lights are convenient and eliminate the need for visible cords.
I like to use a Command picture frame hanging strip to the back of the fairy light battery pack to keep it in place on the mantel shelf. These fairy lights are perfect for weaving through garlands and come with a timer built-in to automatically turn on at dusk each evening.
This minimalist pine garland with fairy lights is simple but very effective.
Take your garland to the next level by layering multiple garlands to look more lush.
Use different types of garland like cedar, cypress, juniper, magnolia, or eucalyptus for even more dimension.
You can hang the additional garland from the same Command hooks as the base garland or attach it to the base garland with florist wire twisted around the stems.
Introduce variety of natural elements such as sprigs of cedar, pine cones, holly branches, or cinnamon sticks. This not only adds depth to your display but also gives it a natural, woodland charm. Don’t be afraid to mix and match – the more textures, the merrier!
In this mantel decor below, along with layering multiple pine garlands together, I added faux sprigs of juniper with florist wire.
How to Make Fresh Garland Last Longer
When using fresh foraged greenery, spray them with Wilt Pruf or Wilt Stop and let the leaves dry before attaching to the base garland so your greenery will last longer.
Add individual leaves or stems with florist wire to the base garland. Arrange leaves randomly for a whimsical look or strategically place them for a more polished appearance.
Spice up your plain mantel garland by incorporating dried fruits like oranges, apples, or even cranberries.
The garland below is made of the same basic garland as the mantel above, but I added lots of orange slices, berry sprigs, pine cones, and foraged leaves to look more lush.
How to Dry Fruit to Use In Garlands
To achieve a rustic look, slice the fruits thinly and dry them in the oven on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Thread the slices onto twine and intersperse them throughout the garland for a burst of festive color and a hint of natural fragrance.
Poke a hole through the dried fruits with a toothpick and florist wire to attach to garland stems or string entire strands of dried fruit garland with twine to hang from the base garland’s Command hooks.
If you don’t want to go through the effort of drying your own orange slices, you can buy already dried orange slices at craft supply stores or buy artificial dried orange slice garland.
Add Ribbon Accents
Finally, tie it all together with festive ribbons. For this year’s mantel (below), I had a simple garland.
I just tacked up a strand of wired plaid ribbon with florist wire to add some embellishment.
Choose a ribbon that complements your overall color scheme and style. For a classic look, opt for red and green velvet ribbons, or go for a more modern aesthetic with metallic or plaid patterns.
Twist and tie the ribbon around the garland, securing it in place and creating bows at intervals for a polished finish.
Wired ribbon is best for a modern look while unwired ribbon is best for a traditional look.
This mantel garland below is embellished with unwired ribbon.
The beauty of a DIY Christmas mantel garland lies in the personal touches you add, so feel free to let your creativity run wild. You can use a lot of these same tips for embellishing a basic Christmas tree.
Happy decorating, and may your holiday season be as bright and beautiful as your newly adorned fireplace mantel!
More DIY Christmas Decorating Ideas
- DIY Christmas Decorations You Can Make Inexpensively
- How to Hang Garland on Stairs + Entryway Christmas Decor
- How to Hang Wreaths on Windows for Christmas
- Simple and Inexpensive Christmas Table Centerpiece
- 5 Minute Christmas Bow Ribbon Art
- How to Put Christmas Tree Ribbon Decorations on Trees
- Easy Tutorial: How to Make DIY Dried Orange Garland
Frequently Asked Questions
Measure the width of your mantel then add one and a half times that width to know how much garland you need.
Using Command heavyweight hooks or Command cord bundlers is the easiest way to hang garland. You can suspend the garland directly from the hooks or attach the garland to the hooks with twine or florist wire.
Make sure to follow the directions on the Command packaging. Press the adhesive strip to the hook for 30 seconds and press it onto the mantel for 30 seconds. Let the hooks set for an hour without any weight before hanging the garland to prevent it from falling.
When kept in a cool, dry place, dried fruit garland can last up to two years (sometimes longer).