Christmas Garland

Tights are not just for elves. No siree. Come Christmas, the humble pair of tights, can be transformed into a rather magnificent garland. All tights are eligible for this Christmas make-over, be they well worn, terrible fashion faux-pas, or even deplorably laddered. And no, this isn’t a large jug of mulled wine talking.

As I suspect is the case for most gardeners, Christmas really starts in the garden. The garden presents ample bounty for the most beautiful Christmas decorations, and it is truly satisfying to know that the adornments are not just home-made, but home-grown. Furthermore, as your credit card is probably working overtime now, it’s good to know that a few things can really be – economically friendly.

Similar to the wreaths1, the garland is simple to make, and forsakes the need for any special floristry gadgetry. All you need is; the best of what your garden has to offer, some old newspapers or packaging paper, garden wire, and a pair of old tights. Yes, you read that correctly. The tights2 allow for a fully flexible garland, that one can contort in all manner of positions, yet is also strong enough to drape over fireplaces and balustrades.

Proud centrepiece....
The ingredients...
Paper stuffed tights
Houston we have a dogus problem....
Flexi garland structure
December 13, 2014
Wire on bunches of foliage from foot upwards
December 13, 2014
Working on upwards
Garland now ready for adornment
Voila. Garland completed with lights on.

Trust me, this is not as nuts as it may seem….

To make the garland

  1. Roughly measure the fireplace you wish to decorate.
  2. Select a sturdypair of tights, that sprawled out, will cover this area. If they are too long, cut the foot end off, and tie in a knot. Black tights are preferable to ensure it’s not visible through the foliage. You can either use an old pair, or otherwise buy a cheap pair.
  3. Scrunch up individual sheets of newspaper or packaging paper to a rough ball. Try to be consistent, hence make balls of single sheets each time.
  4. Stuff the tights with the balls of paper, ensuring a good tight fit and fill both ‘legs’ completely. I realise this will all be sounding and looking rather odd at this stage, but trust me.
  5. Tie the top of the pair of tights into a knot, and voila there is your structure. Note, if your fireplace is huge, you may need to increase the size of the paper balls, if smaller – reduce.
  6. Just as when making my wreaths, you need some green ‘ground cover’ foliage. Dense conifer types such as Cupressus × leylandiiare best for this job as they provide good coverage and will hide the simple structure. However, use what you have in the garden.
  7. Start at the ‘foot’ end, by carefully wiring bunches of foliage to the stuffed tights, all the while ensuring good coverage. Not to worry if it’s not 100% covered, as you will be adding the more decorative foliage at a later stage. Just try as best as possible to cover the tights, working your way up. Do the same for the other ‘leg’, leaving the middle section until last.
  8. Make sure you wire the bunches in tightly to ensure the foliage is in securely. Especially around the lower ends as these will be hanging over the fireplace. If needed double up, or add additional wire ties.
  9. As this garland is for a fireplace, the middle section will be the part that sits proudly in the centre, so when working this part of the garland angle the bunches of foliage slightly forward, rather than sideways as you have been doing so far to ensure good coverage.
  10. Voila! You should now be looking at a green pair of tights that Poison Ivy would kill for.
  11. Lay the garland carefully over the fireplace to position it. Ensure that any areas that are not covered are covered by adding foliage or tweaking the foliage forward. Secure any areas that require some additional wiring support such as on the edges.
  12. Now comes the fun part. Add any decorative foliage you have, by simply pushing them into and under the wires of the previous layers, working from the centre outwards. Holly, bay, ivy, twigs, decorative berries etc., all work brilliantly – again use what you have in the garden.
  13. Add any Christmas decorations you like at this stage. Baubles or any delightful sparkly bits and pieces. Lights are good too, I opted for ones with crystal beads which add sparkle. A big NOTE of caution, if using candles, do please be careful that the flame is secure and not anywhere near the decorations. Similarly ensure that the garland is hanging safely away from the fire in the fireplace.

And that’s it!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas. And not to worry, no elves were harmed in the making of this garland. Not seriously anyway….


  1. See related blog posts – links below
  2. I can’t take any credit for the cunning use of tights to make a garland, that is all down to my artistic mother, whom is now surely giving me the ‘I told you that would work’ nod! Don’t tell her she was right – again….
  3. Sheer tights are probably too delicate, opt for an opaque 40+ denier type. Apologies to the gents whom may have no idea what I’m on about here.

The wild garden: Into the woods Moving house: Garden relocation

any comments?

Comments: 10

  1. I have just taken delivery of a Jostaberry and found the Oxonian article dated March 2012 very informative and amusing. I would be very interested to whether it was cast on the compost heap or is still in the fruit cage. If it survived I would like any information you may have. I have limited space so I am keen to know what is its current size.

    Regards Ray Barrett –

    • Hi Ray,
      I am afraid our Jostaberry did end up on the compost heap. It just became too unruly, the crop limited and we preferred the taste of a ‘normal’ blackcurrant – which replaced it. Good luck with your Josta though. Some prefer the flavour of their berries, which hopefully you will do too!

      • Thanks for your response regarding a Jostaberry. Hopefully ours will behave itself otherwise it like yours will be compost bin bound!

  2. I like how you get detailed. I have to try this

  3. I love how you’ve decorated your fireplace. Looks very nice and cozy. Happy New Year!

  4. Rt-ing idea I’m trying: Christmas Garland

  5. RT @Petra_HM: Christmas Garland

  6. Christmas Garland *eyes up mum’s holly and leylandii…..such a great idea!

  7. RT @Petra_HM: Christmas Garland

  8. Christmas Garland via Oxonian Gardener: Tights are not just for elves. No siree. Come … #Seasonal