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How to Make a Fluffy Christmas Mantel Garland for Less

Learn how to make your Christmas mantel garland look full and fluffy without breaking your budget with these easy to copy ideas.

I love the big, full Christmas garlands you see in magazines.

At holiday tour houses.

On Instagram.

Or Pinterest.

But when I look at the price tag for those garlands, I just can’t spend that.

Even if they’re amazing and gonna last for years, it’s just not in my budget.

Besides, I like changing things up and if I’ve shelled out hundreds of dollars for a garland like that, my fireplace will be wearing it until I die!

So I’ve figured out how to give my inexpensive garland a boost for a fraction of the cost.

And the best part?

Besides it being budget-friendly?

It’s so easy to change up how it looks from one year to the next with a few minor tweaks.

For instance, you can see the basic garland is the same from last year to this year, but I ditched the red berry accents this year in favor of faux pears.

There’s another change too.

Can you spot it?

Get the details about that little glow up from October here.

Side by side comparison of the same mantel decorated for Christmas with garland and lights but with different candlesticks and other subtle changes

Are you ready to learn how to get this kind of a look in your home?

Then you’re in the right place!

I’m sharing all my secrets for creating a custom-looking Christmas mantel garland with you!

Including the answer to the number one question I get about how I decorate my fireplace for the holidays.

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How To Create a Custom Christmas Mantel Garland

1. Create a Foundation

It all starts with a good foundation.

One thing that I did that I’ve loved was to give my builder-basic mantel an upgrade with a new board on top that’s a little deeper.

Since the garland ends up being very full and fluffy, I’ve also found I need to give my candlesticks a little boost so they can be seen above the garland.

Some scrap wood from the garage does the trick!

Be sure that the stacked wood is stable if you’re putting real candles on top.

It’s so important to keep it safe!

Close up of top of mantel with stacked scrap wood and assorted vintage brass candlesticks on top. A large round mirror is centered over the fireplace.

If you look closely, you can see a white “bump” in the center of the mantel, right under the mirror.

That, friends, is a command hook.

I attach three of the 3-lb hooks along the top of the mantle to help hold the garland in place.

The hooks are positioned at each end, plus the one in the middle, and are turned so the hook opens towards the wall.

I love that they’re removable and won’t damage the surface. But they’re sturdy enough to keep everything in place.

2. Use Two Layers of Garland

Wait.

What?

Two layers of garland?

Won’t that be expensive?!

Nope.

Not expensive.

Check out the garlands in the image below, and you’ll begin to see why…

Two different Christmas garlands lying on a cream rug. The one on the left is full with pinecones, the one on the right is very thin

The garland on the left is pretty nice.

It’s a mixed greens garland with a few red berries and large pine cones.

I’ve had it for 15 years, and bought it using a 50% coupon from Michaels.

You can get a similar one here.

But my secret to making my mantel garland look extra full?

An inexpensive, $5 garland that lies underneath.

It makes a huge difference!

Gas fireplace with white wood mantle and large round mirror hanging above with Christmas garland

Place that inexpensive garland towards the back of the mantel.

You don’t even need to fluff it up!

Gas fireplace with white wood mantle and large round mirror hanging above with Christmas garland

Now, the garland that’s going on top?

Fluff. It. Up!

Before you put it on the mantel, pull all the pieces out so the garland looks as full as possible.

Now, place your fluffed garland on top of the inexpensive one.

The garland that’s underneath fills in and hides any gaps that might happen from the fluffing!

You could stop there and your garland looks really nice.

But you’re here to learn how to make it look like your garland is super extra, right?

3. Add Unexpected Greenery

Now it’s time to get creative.

Who says all the greenery you use at Christmas needs to be some sort of evergreen or pine?

Not me!

In fact, I use greenery stems in my garland that I use in other places in my home throughout the year.

Eucalyptus.

Magnolia leaves.

Lambs ear.

Olive tree branches.

Boxwood.

I’ve used them all!

They add texture, and more importantly, a variety of colors.

This year, I used just three: eucalyptus, magnolia leaves, and lambs ear.

Gas fireplace with white wood mantle and large round mirror hanging above with Christmas garland with eucalyptus

When you add the eucalyptus, change the direction when you tuck each piece in.

Have some pointing up, some pointing down, some going to the left, and some to the right.

I love how the blue-green color looks, don’t you?

Gas fireplace with white wood mantle and large round mirror hanging above with Christmas garland with more greenery added

Next, I used faux magnolia leaves.

I got this bush from Hobby Lobby at a discount and separated it into individual leaves.

Tuck these leaves in the same way: change direction for each one.

But!

Be sure to tuck them in so lots of the brown undersides show.

Gas fireplace with white wood mantle and large round mirror hanging above with Christmas garland and magnolia leaves

Go ahead and tuck in some of the lambs ear sprigs too.

I only had a few sprigs, but their velvety texture and grayish-green color really do add a little something extra.

You could even use clippings from shrubs around your home to make it even more budget-friendly!

4. Add Some Spiller

When you create a container garden, the general rule of thumb is to use three kinds of plants: a thriller, a filler, and a spiller.

So far we’ve mostly been creating the filler layer of your Christmas mantel garland.

Now, it’s time for some spiller!

You’ll need to use a floral stem instead of a pick.

Faux pine bough floral stem

The floral stem is long enough to be able to spill over the front of your mantel.

I’m loving this stem I found at Michaels.

It drapes nicely and it has some mini pinecones.

Gas fireplace with white wood mantle and large round mirror hanging above with Christmas garland

Simply tuck the long stems under the garland you’ve already created.

I had to bend the long stems for the ones along the front of the fireplace.

5. Don’t Forget Extra Color and Texture

Now it’s time for the thriller part of your Christmas mantel display!

This is the part that’s easy and affordable to change from one year to the next.

You can change your color scheme by adding different colored berries or other floral stems.

I’ve been seeing some gorgeous mantels featuring roses and peonies recently.

Last year I used red berries.

This year, I was inspired by the colors in my Christmas stockings, and decided to use gorgeous golden pears.

You can see how I hung the stockings here.

I used faux pears that I’ve used to decorate for spring, summer, and fall!

Gas fireplace with white wood mantle and large round mirror hanging above with Christmas garland with other greenery and pears

The star of my fireplace at Christmas is really the garland, but I love adding a little sparkle with candles.

My collection of vintage brass candlesticks complements the golden colors of the pears.

While I love the look of real candles, I’m leaning towards these super realistic faux candles since they’re so much safer.

6. Light It Up!

The number one question I got about my Christmas mantel garland last year was about the lights.

Fireplace with painted marble surround decorated for Christmas with South House Designs stockings and greenery

Aren’t they fabulous?

I didn’t want the wires to be overly visible, so micro lights were the way I wanted to go.

When I found this set of lights designed for Christmas trees, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to use!

It has 16 wires with 42 micro lights on each wire. The wires are all connected at one end.

The end with all the connected wires is in the center of the mantel, and the wires are split equally on each side of the fireplace.

overhead view of microlights on multiple wires inside greenery

I love that the wires are thin and easily bendable!

It was so easy to wrap each wire around all the little branches and stems.

Close up of unlit microlights on wires wrapped around Christmas greenery on a mante;

Even though the wires may stick up a tiny bit, they blend perfectly into the greenery of the mantel garland.

And when the lights are on, all you notice is the way the whole garland sparkles!

Close up of lit microlights on wires wrapped around Christmas greenery on a mante;

Creating a Christmas mantel that’s truly the focal point of your space is simple and budget-friendly when you customize an inexpensive garland.

Fireplace with painted marble surround decorated for Christmas with South House Designs stockings and greenery
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Collage of products used to create a custom looking Christmas garland.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me or leave a comment!

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Georgina

Monday 5th of December 2022

Wowsers!!! These are fantastic tips. Thanks so much for sharing!!!

AnnMarie

Tuesday 6th of December 2022

You're very welcome! Hope they helped. Merry Christmas!

Phishead28

Sunday 27th of November 2022

What kind of Command hook did you use?

AnnMarie

Tuesday 29th of November 2022

Hi Erin - Thanks for reaching out about the command hooks. Anne used 2lb clear hooks. Heres a link to what she used: https://rstyle.me/+X1Eh6V2HU_G9POsiBSB9gg

Lori

Saturday 12th of November 2022

I followed the link for the lights which brought me to a 7 ft strand. Did you use the whole 7 ft on your mantle? It looks like an awful lot of lights. Thank you! Your mantle is so beautiful!

AnnMarie

Sunday 13th of November 2022

Hi Lori - Thanks for reaching out about Anne's Christmas mantel... its gorgeous right?! She did use the whole box of lights for the 7ft tree on the mantel. She strung the lights throughout the garland along the top and also down each hanging branch. This set of lights ensured she had plenty to cover all the greenery. Thanks so much for reading our blog! :)

Anne Marie

Thursday 10th of November 2022

This is beautiful - such great ideas. Where did you find that mirror - it is fantastic!

AnnMarie

Thursday 10th of November 2022

Thank you Anne Marie! Anne got the mirror from Wayfair. Here is our affiliate link: https://rstyle.me/+zUAy1dUaJ6fqugG3V2X3mQ It doesn't cost you any more to shop through our link but it does really help us!

Renae

Thursday 10th of November 2022

I love this! It’s gorgeous!

AnnMarie

Thursday 10th of November 2022

Thanks Renae! Anne does such a great job decorating her mantel for Christmas.