Does your front door look a little too drab to greet all your holiday guests? Well, dress it up with a festive swag that you can make in minutes with plants from your garden!

Holiday swag

Welcome all your guests with a beautiful homemade holiday swag on your front door.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Bradley Lenet

Cotoneaster berries

Cotoneaster berries add wonderful color and interest to swags.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Bradley Lenet

This particular design is based on a 1- to 2-foot-long tree branch, which is combined with other materials (like cotoneaster, holly or baby’s breath) for a festive touch. Add a red velvet bow, a pinecone or two, and you’ve got beautiful swag to hang on your door that’ll invite everyone over with seasonal cheer.

To start, head outside and find a good tree branch for the base (and bring a bucket of water with you to stow your cuttings so they stay fresh). Pine (Pinus), California pepper (Schinus molle), redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) or cypress (Cupressus) are great choices for swags. Before trimming off the branch, keep in mind the size of your door – then cut the length that complements your entryway. (Be sure to prune only the hidden branches in the back of the tree or those in overgrown areas so your landscape stays lovely.)

While you’re outside, don’t forget to grab some accent plant materials for your swag. Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) or Cotoneaster both have great red berries and make beautiful choices to pair up with pine, redwood or cypress. And California pepper’s pink berries are great if you want to incorporate some pastels. (If you won’t be making your swag for a few hours after you collect your cuttings, be sure to keep your bucket in a nice, shady spot and spray them down with water to keep them looking their best.)

Next, collect all the other tools and materials you’ll need for the project:

  • A large, festive waterproof bow
  • Heavy-gauge wire (24-gauge or higher) for wiring your swag together
  • Wire cutters
  • Any accent touches, like jingle bells or pinecones.

To start, thread a piece of wire approximately 12-18 inches long through your bow (so you can attach it to the swag later). Next, cut several lengths of wire, each approximately 12-18 inches long. (You’ll use these to hold the swag together.) Then lay your largest tree branch on a flat surface with the right side up and the cut end at the top. Layer on a shorter length of your smaller branches, like toyon or California pepper. Wire each branch together securely, and be sure to twist the wires tightly and test each branch by pulling on it to be sure it won’t fall from the swag. Continue until you’ve got the look you want for your front door.

Now you can add small decorative touches to your swag, like baby’s breath, pinecones, holly berries, artificial birds and nests, etc. Add some jingle bells for a festive sound. Again, test each new addition with a little shake to make sure it’s secure on the swag and won’t fall off when you open and close the door.

Attach your bow near the top to cover up loose ends of stems and wires. And last but not least, make a loop out of another piece of wire and attach it securely to the back of your swag so you’ve got something to hang it by. Then proudly display it on your front door, step back and admire your handiwork!

That’s all there is to it. So instead of heading to the store to buy one of those expensive swags, get creative – and get outside. Make your holiday decorations extra-special by getting them straight from your garden!