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how to keep holiday garland fresh

We all want the old-fashioned kind of Christmas holiday we read about in books and see in movie holiday movie classics.

The kind with holiday garland draped down banisters and across mantels. What we forget is that these idealized Christmas holidays occurred long ago - before central heat.

In modern times (when we don't have to wear gloves indoors), the decorating scheme needs to undergo a little updating. We can still deck our halls - we just need to know how to maintain them safely in today's home.

Here's how to choose your holiday garland, prepare it for display, and some important safety dos and don'ts when it comes to decorating your home.

1. how to choose holiday garland.

For indoor decorations, choose holiday greenery of pine, fir and cedar. These cuttings dry out more slowly than other greenery and may last several weeks if you keep them cool.

2. holiday garland and greenery prep.

The best way to ensure that holiday greenery is fresh is to cut it yourself. If you buy it, give the needles the old Christmas tree test: bend them. If they are brown or they break, buy elsewhere.

Additional tips on choosing and using holiday greenery:

  • Plan on putting holiday greens up just a week or two before Christmas.
  • Buy or harvest greenery as close to when you plan to use it as possible.
  • If you buy greenery early, keep it outside until needed.
  • Before you put that wreath on the door or drape the garlands, soak them overnight in a bathtub filled with water so they can absorb as much water as possible.
  • If you bring branches home to make your own swags and wreaths, re-cut the ends and pound them with a hammer so they will absorb more water. Then soak them overnight in the tub.
  • If you make floral arrangements, keep them in the garage or outside when they are not on display.

3. holiday decorating do's.

  • If you use lights in your holiday arrangement, make sure the lights are cool.
  • Keep holiday greenery fresh by keeping it away from heat vents, the fireplace and sunny windows.
  • Check holiday greenery for freshness every couple of days. Replace sections that are brown or are dropping leaves or needles.
  • Mist garland every couple days to keep your holiday greenery fresh.

4. holiday decorating don'ts.

  • Don't decorate too early. The longest-lasting greenery (fir) will only keep about four weeks indoors - if you're lucky.
  • Don't use greenery in displays with candles.
  • Don't drape greenery from the fireplace mantel if you plan to use the fireplace.
  • If you have children or pets, don't use greenery with poisonous berries such as holly, yew, ivy, Jerusalem cherry, bittersweet, crown of thorns - or mistletoe.

And finally, with any evergreen decoration, be sure to keep the broom handy. You'll need it.

Visit the Clean Organized Home Store for home decorating ideas and more!

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About the Author

Tara Aronson

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.