All About the Garland

Tips and tricks to incorporate and care for fresh garland throughout the home.


There is nothing that says the holidays are here more than fresh garland. “Not only does it look beautiful but smells wonderful,” says Christine Mango, a holiday decorating expert from Calabasas, Calif., who has decorated the homes of Sylvester Stallone and Gene Simmons. “Garland can last up to two weeks if cared for properly.”

Christmas wreath and boughs on window sill
There are several types of fresh garland from which to choose. “The most popular is white pine,” says Peter Bieneman, general manager of Green Fields Nursery in Baltimore, Md. “It is thin and good for around columns, staircases, and entrances.”

Bieneman also suggests boxwood garland, which dries out very quickly. “It turns a glossy green that people use to make boxwood topiary trees and stick boxwood into floral bases. The minuses of it are also that it dries out quickly and shatters when it’s dry. Most people just hang it and don’t disturb it.”

Finally, he suggests cedar garland. “It is thicker, larger roping that lays beautiful on a mantel and lasts a long time,” he says. “It also has a very beautiful wonderful smell.”

Fireplace with Christmas decoration
When it comes to decorating with garland, Mango says that less is more. “Twinkle lights and holiday bows are all that is needed,” she says. “Doubling up the garland for your fireplace mantle adds fullness and enough to drape and place on top of the mantle. Pillar candles placed on top of the mantel are a great addition to a mantelpiece.”

If you want to use fresh garland in time for the holidays, Mango suggests these tips to care for whatever type you choose:

Soak it: “Toss your garland in a large bucket, the kids’ wagon, the kitchen sink or your bathtub and soak in lukewarm water for at least 30 minutes, giving garland its last big drink (including garland wreaths),” she says. “Once you have hung your garland, spray with water once a day (make sure twinkle lights are off and unplugged if woven throughout). There are also coating sprays available that help seal in the water.”

Limit lights: “Only plug in twinkle lights when the family and friends are around to enjoy the décor,” she says. “The lights dry out the garland.”