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Back in late August, a bunch of suburbs in Melbourne were having their annual ‘hard rubbish’ collection. Whenever these collections happen, I like to visit the suburbs in question to see what awesome things I can salvage to use in my DIY projects. This year, I found a bunch of really cool stuff, including an old bird bath, a bunch of wine crates, some new outdoor furniture, and a pretty old mirror. One of my favourite finds, however, was an artificial Christmas tree.
While the tree itself was missing several parts, the pine needles were so pretty that I couldn’t just leave it destined for landfill. Instead, I brought the tree home, used wire cutters to remove the branches, and decided to repurpose the Christmas tree into a variety of decorations once the season was a little closer.
And let me tell you: The moment Halloween ended, I began scheming all of the different ways I could upcycle this old tree into some new Christmas decorations. I eventually decided that, for my first project, I wanted to reuse the tree to make a pretty DIY Christmas garland.
So today I’d like to share with you how make your own pretty DIY Christmas garland!
How to create a frosty Christmas garland
To make your own Christmas garland, you will need:
- The branches of an old Christmas tree, removed from the tree itself with wire cutters Alternatively, you can buy a pre-made garland and just decorate it.
- Paddle wire
- Pinecones. There’s no exact number – use however many you like!
- Beads in a neutral colour. I used ones like this.
- Hot glue gun
- Craft glue. Make sure it’s the type of glue that dries clear.
- Epsom salts. Epsom salts have so many purposes around the home that they’re awesome to have on hand.
- Sisal rope or any other sturdy, thick rope
- A paintbrush
- Sealing spray. I used this one. You can use any brand you like, just avoid ‘matt’ sprays, as it’ll ruin the look of your snow.
Some important notes:
- Even with the glue and sealing spray, some of the epsom salts will still fall off your garland when you move it. As such, try to minimise the amount of handling you need to do.
- Because epsom salts absorb water, it’s best to store this garland in an air-tight container in a spot with low humidity when not in use. If your epsom salts do still end up absorbing water, you can always re-coat the garland with a fresh lot of epsom salts.
Step 1: Prepare your pinecones
Before you begin work on the garland itself, it’s good to prepare your pinecones. This way you can make your garland while the glue on your pinecones dries.
Using a hot glue gun, attach a single bead to the bottom of each of your pinecones. Make sure the bead’s hole isn’t facing down, as you’ll need to thread some wire through this hole when it comes time to attach your pinecones to your garland.
Leave the glue to dry while you work on the next step.
Step 2: Create your DIY Christmas garland by tying pine branches to sisal rope
Note: If you’d prefer to buy a pre-made garland and decorate it, you can skip this step entirely.
To begin, place one of your pine branches on top of the sisal rope. Use floral wire to attach the branch to the rope. Loop the wire around the branch and the rope a few times, pulling firmly on the wire. Do not cut the floral wire.
Using the same continuous piece of floral wire, continue to attach more branches to your rope. Keep going until your garland has reached the desired length.
Once your garland is long enough, leave a small bit of rope ‘poking out’, then use your scissors to cut the rest of the sisal rope off. Sisal rope can be difficult to cut, so I’d recommend using the strongest, sharpest pair of scissors you have on hand. Or your massive muscles. Either/or.
Once you’ve cut the rope, tuck the rope’s ‘tail’ underneath the garland. Tie it down with floral wire.
Step 3: Add your pinecones
By now, the glue on your pinecones will be dry. This means they’re ready to be attached to your DIY Christmas garland!
Cut a piece of floral wire approximately 10″ long. The exact length doesn’t really matter – what matters is that it’s long enough for you to be able to easily tie it to the garland.
Thread the floral wire through the bead. Then, use the floral wire to attach the pinecone to the rope.
Step 4: Add snow
Because Christmas tree flocking is a little pricey, I was originally just going to use a can of fake snow spray for this project. However, I did a test run on a single branch and didn’t really like the result. So, instead, I decided to use Epsom salts
Epsom salts are an amazing to have in your craft stockpile. They make amazing fake snow and they’re so, so cheap. I bought a kilo of them for $5 and used only a fraction of the bag on my DIY Christmas garland (so totally expect more projects with epsom salts in the future). Plus, they’re awesome to add to baths if you have muscle aches and pains.
Anyway, this part of the process is a lot of fun but it’s also crazy messy, so I recommend that you do it outside if at all possible.
Working in sections, use a paintbrush to apply generous amounts of glue to the ends of the pine needles. Then, sprinkle generous amounts of Epsom salts over the glue. Apply way, way more than you actually want, as a lot of it will fall off once the glue dries (but don’t worry – you can just sweep it up and reuse it in another project!)
Allow to dry.
Once your glue has dried, lift up your garland and give it a good shake to remove excess Epsom salts. The ground will look like it snowed. Or like you have really bad dandruff. One or the other.
Step 5: Seal your garland
The final step is to apply a coat of sealant to your garland. This will help the Epsom salts stay attached to your garland, rather than falling all over the floor.
Spray your garland with a generous amount of sealant (I used this one). The more the merrier. Make sure you spray both the top and the bottom of your branches.
Allow to dry, shake your garland gently, then repeat with a second coat.
Once your sealing spray has dried, your DIY Christmas garland is complete!
I really love the icy effect the Epsom salts give the pinecones.
One of my favourite things about this garland is how versatile it is. You can use it on your staircase, as a table runner, draped over a mantlepiece, or as a Christmas decoration for a side table (perhaps in your entryway).
I’m also totally obsessed with these sweet little reindeer ornaments, can you tell?
Have you upcycled an old Christmas tree into Christmas decorations? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
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