Growing up in Canada we celebrated Thanksgiving in mid-October….about two weeks before Halloween. So when we celebrated Thanksgiving, the house decor was for Thanksgiving / Halloween / autumn. Here in the U.S. it’s a bit different since Thanksgiving is celebrated a month after Halloween. You can take the Halloween decor down and put up Thanksgiving decor. Of course after all that you switch it out for Christmas decor, making the last three months of the year the most intensive period of decorating changes.
Since we used to live in a tiny apartment, we really don’t have a lot of decorations. We do have a decent amount of Christmas stuff, but almost nothing for Halloween or Thanksgiving. Now that we’ve moved into a big house, I figured I would primarily focus on Christmas decor for the first couple of years, and just slowly build up things for the other holidays. That all changed when we talked to Dave’s family and were assigned to host….Thanksgiving.
This is going to be my first time hosting any major holiday, and I find it ironic that it’s a holiday I didn’t even celebrate growing up as a kid. In fact, when I was working in Kansas I volunteered to cover Thanksgiving Day because I had nothing to do on that day, other than watch some college basketball. Thankfully (no pun intended) the traditions surrounding Canadian Thanksgiving aren’t that different from American Thanksgiving, at least in terms of the food. (Obviously the Canadians don’t really get into the pilgrims and all that jazz, it’s really more a celebration of the harvest).
Since we’ll have almost about a dozen people in the house, I figured I should probably make the place look somewhat festive. Step one….decorate the fireplace mantle.
Given that I’m used to having “autumn” decor that can serve both Halloween and Thanksgiving, that’s how I’m going to focus my decorating for the moment. Having decor that can serve both holidays is a lot cheaper than doubling up on holiday-specific decor. When I started looking for autumn garlands online, I got really frustrated. Everything I liked was really expensive. Like $150+ expensive. There were some really beautiful options, but I was not willing to spend that much money on a garland. My next step was to check out Hobby Lobby. I figured they would have pre-made garland options I could check out and if they were a) two expensive or b) ugly then I would already be at a place where I could find the supplies to make my own garland. Turns out Hobby Lobby does have garlands that are reasonably prices and pretty, but I didn’t account for a third problem….length. Hobby Lobby only seems to carry garlands that are 6 feet long. If you have a smaller mantle, that’s wonderful, but our mantle happens to be over 8 feet long, and I think a 6 foot garland would look a little silly. So….it was time to figure out how to make my own garland.
I decided I really liked the rustic look of burlap. When I was searching online I found this great tutorial for a ruffled burlap garland.
While this garland was adorable, I was concerned that it wouldn’t be substantial enough for our mantle, plus I wanted a few other “extras.” I had this general idea in mind while I was scouting out the supplies at Hobby Lobby for my own autumn garland.
These are the supplies that I ended up using for my autumn garland:
-1 work garland form (9 feet in length)
-3 or 4 rolls of burlap ribbon (each 15 feet in length – 45 to 60 feet total)
-Approximately 10 floral pieces to attach to the garland. I used 4 pumpkins, 2 orange sunflowers, 1 red sunflower, and 3 maple leaf branches.
Tip: when picking out your floral pieces, make sure they flow together. It’s easy to pick out a bunch of items that you like, but don’t look great when they’re all placed on the garland. Hold the pieces together in a bouquet to make sure the styles match each other. Pick a style and stick with it.
I was able to purchase all my supplies at Hobby Lobby, but unfortunately I’m having a hard time finding them on the website to show you exactly what I bought. I bought everything mid-September, and at that point Hobby Lobby had a pretty large Thanksgiving / Halloween / Autumn section of supplies.
There were two work garland form options to choose from: orange or black. Honestly, I didn’t love either option. I ended up picking orange, but it didn’t really matter because I ended up covering it all up. Basically, the work garland just serves as your base. As a word of warning, the work garland I purchased did not have its tinsel wire forms evenly spaced out along its length. It was fine for me because I was looking to make something rustic and not perfect, but if you want them evenly spaced you may want to look elsewhere.
I started by straightening and spreading out the garland work form on the floor (this project requires some space!). I took the first roll of burlap, started at one end, and tied it in bunches with the tinsel wire forms. Then I did the same thing starting at the other end, focusing on making sure the bunches were on opposite sides so the base wire was completely covered. I was left with a foot or two of extra burlap on each end (using 15 foot rolls on the 9 foot long work garland). Then, I started to place my floral items where I thought I wanted them to go on the garland. I left about 3 or 4 of the tinsel wire forms “blank” on each end of the garland, and made sure there were and even number on each side of the center of the garland. Once I had everything arranged to my liking, I started attaching each floral piece. I started by placing each stem along the wire of the garland; in many cases I was able to push the stem into the nearest tinsel wire form. Just make sure you don’t shove the stem through the burlap several times (like I did), because it can start to make some large holes. I then secured the remainder of the stem along the garland with a bit of floral wire. Sometimes I had to move the burlap out of the way to tie it all together, but it’s easy to fluff it back up and cover the wire base and stems.
When I was done, I wasn’t happy with the look of the tinsel that tied the burlap to the garland. If it was a green Christmas garland it probably would have blended in very well, but it did not blend in at all with my burlap garland. So, I took my extra roll of burlap and cut it into approximately 1 foot long segments. I also trimmed down the ends of the garland, which gave me a foot or so from each side. I took these pieces and tied them around the garland in places where the tinsel was visible. I wasn’t able to cover the entire garland with one extra roll, which is why I would recommend purchasing a total of 4 rolls rather than 3 rolls (like I did). Thankfully, some of my floral pieces were large enough that they covered the tinsel for me without adding extra burlap.
I’m loving the look of this garland more and more each day! I especially love the versatility throughout the entire autumn season – it will be staying on our mantle for a few months, until Christmas decorations go up after Thanksgiving. The supplies cost around $40 – $50, which is significantly less expensive, but it looks as substantial as a lot of ones that sell for well over $100 on Etsy. It’s a fairly quick project, only taking an hour or so to design and create once you buy the supplies.
Happy Fall, Y’all!
Until later, Ashlen