keeping holiday garland fresh

We all want the old-fashioned Christmas greenery decorations we read about in books and see in 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 evergreen  Christmas 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.

  Choose Holiday Garland Wisely

For indoor decorations, choose holiday greenery of pine, fir and cedar.

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.

  Prepare Fresh Holiday Garland for Display

The best way to ensure that Christmas 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.

Some additional tips on choosing and using fresh holiday garland:

  • Plan on decorating with live garland just a week or two before Christmas.
  • Buy or harvest Christmas greenery as close to when you plan to use it as possible.
  • If you buy live evergreen garland early, keep it outside until needed.

  • Before you put wreaths and garlands up, soak them overnight in a bathtub filled with water so they can absorb as much water as possible.
  • If you 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 fresh holiday centerpieces, keep them in the garage or outside when they are not on display.

  Holiday Decorating Do's With Fresh Greenery

  • If you use lighted Christmas greenery, make sure the lights are cool.
  • Keep live evergreen garland away from heat vents, the fireplace and sunny windows.
  • Check fresh holiday garland every couple of days. Replace sections that are brown or are dropping leaves or needles.
  • Mist garland every couple days to keep it fresh.

  Holiday Decorating Don'ts

  • Don't begin decorating with live garland too early. The longest-lasting greenery (fir) will only keep about four weeks indoors - if you're lucky.

  • Don't use Christmas greenery in displays with candles.
  • Don't drape live evergreen garland from the fireplace mantel if you plan to use the fireplace.
  • If you have children or pets, don't use Christmas greenery with poisonous berries such as holly, yew, ivy, Jerusalem cherry, bittersweet, crown of thorns - or mistletoe.

Finally, when decorating with live garland, keep the broom handy. You'll need it. 

› How to Keep Holiday Garland Fresh