Christmas

How to make a Christmas garland

This stunning seasonal display by acclaimed florist Philippa Craddock will make for a very merry mantelpiece

How to make a Christmas garland by Philippa Craddock
(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

This expert guide to how to make a Christmas garland is anything but understated. Never ones to be outdone, the H&G team has this year teamed up with Philippa Craddock, who founded – and heads up – one of the world’s most renowned and highly respected floral design studios to bring you a garland design that's truly stunning.

The fireplace is often the focal point for Christmas decor ideas, and this garland makes for a wonderful mantelpiece design; however, its versatility means that it could just as easily be placed against a staircase wall, adapted to wind over a door frame – and could even grace a front porch.

How to make a Christmas garland

This design is made from branches and fresh flowers. 'The branches form a beautiful, minimalist design and can be left for a long period. The rest lasts a few days,' says Philippa Craddock. 'Try to source the below from local growers.' 

You could, of course, substitute in dried or fresh flowers for a longer-lasting display – but nothing matches the beauty of fresh blooms.

Here, Philippa takes us through the project, step by step.

You will need:

Flowers:

  • Three long lengths of hazel branches with catkins 
  • Five smaller hazel branches with catkins
  • Five generous handfuls cotoneaster 
  • Five generous handfuls mixed acacia/mimosa
  • 25 x stems Chamelaucium Adi (Knop)
  • 10 x stems Hellebores aarendelle ‘Mara Red’
  • 20 x stems Talinum ‘Long John’

Tools:

  • Buckets to hold water, to condition stems
  • Scissors and secateurs for cutting stems
  • Screws or eye hooks, if fixing into a wall or wood
  • Flexible, strong household wire or floristry reel wire, to secure branches
  • Reusable plastic test tubes, to hold water

1. Condition the stems

How to make a Christmas garland by Philippa CraddockHow to make a Christmas garland by Philippa Craddock

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

The first step is to condition the stems. Before you begin to create your design, give each branch with leaves and flowers a clean cut on an angle (this helps with greater water absorption) and plunge into deep clean buckets or vases of water. Leave them
to drink for up to 48 hours, or 12 hours is fine; just make sure each stem has a really good drink. 

2. Create the garland's base structure

How to make a Christmas garland by Philippa Craddock

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

Create the base structure using the large branches, remembering that the base mechanics work best when the structure is kept simple. Look for branches that have natural bends, extending up and to the right and finishing with natural splayed branches. This will give an organic tree-like shape. 

3. Affix the garland to the wall

How to make a Christmas garland by Philippa Craddock

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

Stand the branches on the ground. Place simple screws or eye hooks into natural holes in the fire surround, then secure the branches to these using wire to firmly hold the base structure in place. Bear in mind that the catkins are important to the design – they stop the branches from appearing too sterile and bare, and add a beautiful finished detail.

4. Add in the first stems

How to make a Christmas garland by Philippa Craddock

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

As you add each stem, take care to follow the movement of the base branches, with stems flowing in the same direction to maintain the organic shape. The cotoneaster has relatively hardy stems and can be simply wired onto the branches, positioned evenly through the design, without access to water.

5. Add in the mixed acacia stems

How to make a Christmas garland by Philippa Craddock

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

First place any delicate ones in small test tubes filled with water, then wire into place in the branches, hiding the tubes.

6. Add in the hellebores

How to make a Christmas garland by Philippa Craddock

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

Put the hellebore stems into test tubes of water, then place securely into the branches without wiring, to make daily access to the test tubes easy. The hellebores really make this design – their petals add a perfect elegance and their color works beautifully against the browns, greens and reds.

7. Finish the Christmas garland

How to make a Christmas garland by Philippa Craddock

(Image credit: Philippa Craddock)

Finish with the delicate talinum stems, which bring overall lightness and texture to the design. It’s best to add only what’s needed, without increasing bulk, to maintain a sense of lightness.

Leave the bases of the branches clear, to give the effect of the design growing out from the floor. 

The fire was lit for this photo but not left unattended. Never dangle any stem close to naked flames.

Philippa is passionate about supporting everyone through creativity with flowers, whether you are a florist or an enthusiastic home arranger, you can discover more incredible seasonal creativity on her website and via her newsletter.

How do you make a mantel garland?

To make a Christmas garland that sits on a mantel, start by clearing the mantelpiece and lay a plain garland across its length. Next, add string lights, checking they work before moving to the next stage. Start to add decorations – live or faux flowers always look beautiful – dotting pretty details, such as baubles or pine cone decorations into the mix. Stand back regularly to check the balance of colors. 

Lucy Searle
Lucy Searle

My first job was writing a DIY column for a magazine for the over 50s (which seemed a long way off back then). I then moved to a DIY magazine as deputy ed, then freelanced my way around the homes departments of most women's magazines on the market before working on Your Home and Family Circle magazines as homes editor. From there, I went to Ideal Home magazine as associate editor, then launched 4Homes magazine for Channel 4, then the Channel 4 4Homes website before going back to freelancing and running a social media business (you can see where I had kids from the freelancing gaps!). I was tempted back to the world of big business by the chance to work with the great team at Realhomes.com, where I was Global Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years, taking it from a small website to a global entity. I've now handed the reins of the website to our American managing editor, while I take on a new challenge as Editor-in-Chief of Homes & Gardens.