holiday holly garland DIY

Apple cider. Electric space heaters in the bathroom. Christmas knee socks. I find the holiday season cozy and charming, albiet a commercial venture. Until now, I’ve never really decorated during the winter months. Once my mom retired our beloved plastic  tree, in part due to its high maintenance assembly and also because the cats had eaten 15 percent of its components, I gave up on Christmas kitsch. This holiday season, however, marks my first as a homeowner and because I have to clean all this square footage, I figured I might as well make it pretty. And, to top it off, I am getting a head start by being one of those obnoxious people who decorates for Christmas before Thanksgiving. Don’t worry, it’s not like I have a snow machine in the kitchen or anything, I just made a paper garland for the fireplace.

My inspiration was this kit, sold at Paper Source. The kit is much smaller than the photo shows in the sense that the holly is very thin in width and would definitely look dwarfed on a large mantle. This kit is super cute but a) it’s 10.50, b) it’s too small and too short  c.1) it’s not exactly a creative project as all you have to do is glue together precut shapes and c.2) THERE’S NO GLITTER. Totally lacking in the embellishment department, right?

Unable to turn a blind eye to the artistic and financial flaws of this kit, I decided to make my own. At first, I was a little intimidated, but I’m extremely pleased with how my garland turned out.

The last time I was particularly crafty was way back in late high school/early college when my bestie and I went through a serious scrapbooking phase. As hard as it is to stomach, scrapbooking and paper crafts were not always synonymous with hipster fonts and chevron prints. Before Etsy, before the resurgence of vintage cameos, in a pre-washi tape era devoid of mainstream mustache stickers, there were soccer moms and there were die cuts.

Enter “Scrap Happy,” the local scrapbooking store in the burbs that hosted a bimonthly “crop night” where, for a small cover charge, you were granted access to a whole new world of paper cutters, ingenius glue products, and gilded photo corners. Not to mention a paltry discount on any other supplies you needed to immortalize your memories into an acid-free, cloth bound book. It was a glorious tradition I still treasure.

After college I purged my closet and got rid of a bunch of my craft supplies, so for this project I had to stock up on a few things. At the end of the post you’ll see a breakdown of my supply cost and how it compares to the original Paper Source kit. I hope this inspires you to do something creative! Disclaimer: I never measure or plan anything, so while it just so happened that this worked out for me, you want might to do some more rigorous recon before you had to the craft store.

what you’ll need:

  • ribbon of any color, length depends on your preference
  • adhesive– I highly recommend Thermoweb super tape
  • card stock in assorted colors
  • red glitter paper
  • gold glitter paint with a fine tip applicator, I used “stickles”
  • a hand made holly leaf template
  • hand cut circles or a circle boot punch
  • scissors

1) Make a template. I just googled “holly leaf” and quickly drew something out on a piece of card stock. I am by no means good at drawing and my holly leaf is totally uneven. Once you piece everything together, though, it won’t really matter. Wine is recommended for achieving that special “hand made” quality.  *wink, wink*


2) Trace your template onto your green card stock and then cut out more leaves. I ended up using all the card stock I purchased. I could get six holly leaves per sheet and I had 6 sheets in various shades of green.


3) Using your adhesive, start to group your leaves together. I just went with whatever I grabbed, grouping them in 2s and 3s. Supertape is extremely sticky and just a little goes a long way. It’s basically a double sided tape on steroids, it’s all I used for everything in this garland. After your leaves are grouped, and adhered to each other, take your glitter glue pen and use it to draw veins on the holly. I think this really adds dimension to the garland.



4) Use a medium and small boot punch to make berries out of red glitter paper. If you don’t have one of these you can buy one for about 5 bucks, or you could just cut out berries with scissors. I used glitter paper and also a normal red colored paper.


5) Attach the berries in random patterns to the holly leaves


6) Attach the holly leaves to your ribbon. I made the mistake of getting a thin ribbon, so I ended up having to double up with it. Here you can see the view from the back, it’s not the prettiest, as I had to adjust it here and there, but from the front, it looks fine. You could also use super glue, but the supertape I had was actually 1/4 of an inch wide and fit perfectly on this ribbon. This is where measuring might come in handy. I should have measured my mantle to see how long to make the ribbon and I also should have figured out how many leaves I needed to cover the length of the ribbon. Thankfully, it still fit on the mantle. I also ended up using some more tape to attach some of the overlapping holly leaves together and pin them down so they didn’t flop around.


7) Hang your garland! Now, here is where I slightly screwed up. My garland, having been made of thick card stock, was really too heavy for the delicate ribbon. When I hung it the first time, from the mantle, it was too heavy to sit properly and instead folded over.

It needed to be taut, so I moved it from the mantle and instead hung it directly on the brick so it could lay flat against the surface. I just used some clear packing tape to hold it up on the sides. I had intentionally left around 3-4 inches of ribbon on each side of the garland for hanging purposes. It worked much better this way and still look nice.

That’s it! I’m sure with a little more forethought you could make an improved version of this, but I usually lack the patience of planning. My garland was just a tad bit too long, but stretched out, I made it work. I had one small piece of ribbon left over and one leaf cluster, so I made mistletoe and hung it in between the living room and the dining room.


While I was up in the loft taking the photo of the fireplace, Sebastian jumped up on the ledge. I thought he looked poetically noble on his perch.


Happy holidays, ya’ll!

Price/Supply breakdown  before tax (I purchased almost everything at Michaels and  a lot of it was on sale, but things are *always* on sale at Michael’s):

  • 6  large sheets of green card stock @ .49 each =  2.94
  • 1 small sheet of red card stock @ .29
  • 1 small sheet of red glitter paper @ 1.49
  • 1 spool of red ribbon @.50
  • gold “stickles” glitter glue @2.89
  • roll of super tape @ 2.49
  • small boot circle punch @ 2.39
  • medium boot circle punch @ 4.79

Cost of raw materials: 10.60

Additional cost of boot punches (which can be used again and again): 7.18

This is a HUGE savings over the 10.50 Paper Source kit because the PS kit doesn’t include the cost of tape, which was included in my cost (there is at least half the roll leftover). Also, it doesn’t come with glitter glue (there was plenty of this left over as well) PLUS my garland is much bigger and longer than the one from Paper Source.


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