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Great tips with holiday garland

December 12, 2008|Scripps Howard News Service

Every time I look at the console table in my foyer, I'm visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past. If you look closely, you can still see a hardened globule of pinesap that's cemented to this beautiful piece of furniture, an unhappy memento from the days I filled my home with fresh pine garlands during the holidays. I learned the hard way that my home furnishings and oozing branches just don't mix.

Luckily, just about the time my feelings soured toward fresh winter greens, the folks that manufacture artificial florals started coming out with better and better products. I was delighted to discover that some faux garland looked so real you'd swear it was cut off the tree yesterday and, just as important for thrifty people like me, the price for these beauties was coming down as the quality was shooting up.

Thanks to these fabulous fakes, garland is still a cornerstone of my holiday decor, whether I'm going for a lavish or edited look. If you'd like to add garlands this year, here's how.

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Pick a perfect garland

If you're in the market for new garlands this year, you're in for a treat. You'll find sensational stuff in just about every look and price range.

Be sure to check out the traditional approaches, like wispy pine branches dotted with red berries. Or try something that's refreshingly new, like a rope of frost-kissed leaves that appear as if they were caught in the season's first freeze.

When picking out garlands, hold out for styles that look incredibly lifelike. I like those that mimic the imperfections found in nature, weave in lots of diverse textures and incorporate a number of different hues in the leaves.

Style superbly

One of the many beauties of decorating with garlands is that they're virtually foolproof. You don't have to be a pro at floral arranging to get a great look. Start by bending each branch in a lifelike pose. Fluff up the needles and twist each twig so they look as if they were actually growing where you placed them.

If you want, let a garland hang solo for a look that is simple yet stunning. Or you can give it more kick by supplementing it with dried branches from your yard, twists of dried vines and faux greenery picks. Sometimes, I snake a honeysuckle vine through the garland ropes over my doorways or on my light fixtures.

I also like to tuck in picks of bright berries, snow-covered pine cones or gilded fruit to give an added pop of color and texture. But make sure these little goodies are positioned irregularly so the garland looks wild and natural, not "matchy" and symmetrical.

Hang in strategic places

To get the most value for your investment, use garlands in a few strategic places. One of my favorite spots to deck is my front banister. This year, I want a lighter, looser and more edited look for Christmas. So I'm simply going to thread a thin pine garland around the banister and spindles.

But, in the past, I've done more elaborate displays with garlands. Once, I secured dried branches to the banister with floral wire, then added twists of pine garland, finishing off by hanging faux icicle ornaments from the tips of the branches.

I also enjoy garlands looped around the light fixtures in my study, dining room and kitchen. The key to making light fixtures look sensational is to position garlands so they appear as if they're growing up the light chain, topsy-turvy.

For a natural look, add in some honeysuckle vines and sprays of gilded fall leaves. If you want to go glam, weave in strands of gold, silver or crystal beads. Then, finish off by hanging a few fun ornaments, crystals or pine cones from the branches.

To avoid overkill, my rule of thumb is that if I use a garland on a light fixture, I don't use it anywhere else in the room.

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