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This year’s Christmas theme decor is all about woodland winter relaxation. With lots of natural wood tones and neutrals of gold, silver, and white, I have tons of DIY ideas in store, starting with this DIY wood bead garland (cheaper to make than to buy!). I couldn’t find a tutorial for really long strands, so I made one myself!
How to make EXTRA LONG wood bead garland
When I showed a few sneak peeks of my Christmas decor on my Instagram stories (and also asked for advice on what was missing from the tree, so thank you to those of you who weighed in!), a few of you commented on the wood bead garland that I incorporated into the tree. I wasn’t exactly planning on having a tutorial about it, but since several asked about where I got it, I figured I’d provide you sources with details on how I made it, and show it off a little more!
In Atlanta, we got an early winter welcome: snow! It’s honestly pretty unheard of this early in the season. Thankfully, none of us were trapped in our cars like last time. 😉
Charlie and Stella weren’t really sure what to do with themselves. Charlie, I guess you could say, was curious at best, and did a little exploring before it really started to come down (she remained inside the rest of the afternoon). Stella prefers the warmth of the house and refused to go anywhere near the white flaky stuff. I suppose I can’t blame her… if I were short enough that my belly fur might touch it, I would reconsider the urgency of nature’s call, too.
Since I was feeling a lot like Stella and preferred a cozy fire, I took several hours to decorate the house for Christmas. This coming Saturday will be my first time hosting the family over for a Christmas dinner, so the pressure is on to make my home look as festive as possible (and possibly distract from all the unfinished projects). I’m both nervous and excited, so I’m pulling out all the glitter!
I got a few great deals recently from some 60- and 70%-off Christmas sales (Joann’s had a great one!), so I did a little editing of the items I bought to fit with the neutral decor scheme I’m going for.
Tip: never be afraid to change the color scheme on the items you buy by clipping off the fake berries. They’re usually the least realistic-looking item on even the good quality garlands, and you can always add in more later on with berry colors of your choosing. You can also re-use the clipped berries by taping them onto your gifts; more on that in a future post! (Update: that’s here!)
Those are just a few sneak peeks for this year – I should have it all finished by mid-week! So, onto the details of my DIY wood bead garland:
Extra-Long DIY Wood Bead Garland
1. Buyer beware.
I noticed very quickly that wood bead garland is rather expensive to purchase outright. It’s not so much that the garland itself is expensive — often listed less than $20 per strand — it’s that you need a lot of those strands to fully fill in a tree. It’s kind of like seeing a calorie count “per serving” on a candy bar, and then you find out the serving size is half a candy bar. Who the hell eats only half??? When it comes to garland, serving size is like a fourth or even a sixth, depending on the length available.
Many strands I found online had a number of issues:
- just a few feet per strand — which gets me only about 1/2 – 2/3 around the bottom of my tree in a single rotation with proper slack to drape on the tree — that’s a lot of strands to cover the tree!
- if the strands came longer, many of them had “spacing” on the string — aka, extra feet of string, but not extra beads, to make a longer garland; this would likely look too sparse or clumped when draping on a tree (if you’re familiar with a concept like this, the wood beads would create extra weight when draped, and expose a very long length of string… I didn’t want that look at all)
- the beads were teeny tiny — this is a little deceptive, since lots of photos are close-up or use very short lengths in their product shots, which make the scale thrown off enough to make the beads look large; you’d have to look at the bead size in the description to know if it’s large enough (16mm or so is ok; smaller doesn’t really have the kind of rounded detail from a distance to look like big wood beads)
- many of the cheaper versions I could find were painted or plastic — I wanted natural wood tones that weren’t stained or polished
I was going to need to buy several, fully-filled-in, large beaded strands. Didn’t think I had to be that specific to find some, but I was wrong! That was going to get costly, quick.
2. Therefore, it’s cheaper to make yourself.
I had string. I even had small glass beads to use on the ends (just for the sake of making it look a little more decorative). All I needed were the wood beads. And patience to string it all. But that’s kind of the best part about this stuff: natural wood beads are basically unfinished craft beads. They’re perfectly suited for the job. Best of all, they’re inexpensive to buy in bulk! I bought a few different varieties to mix and match:
- 16mm beads (qty: 200)
- 20mm beads (qty: 200)
- 20mm thread carved beads (they look like the end of a honey dipper)
- I steered away from the 150-quantity sets since they also contained much smaller beads in the mix
- champagne glass beads (I already had some in my craft supply, but if you don’t, this is a very similar set)
I divided each batch I bought into halves and strung each one for a total of six strands: 2 medium round, 2 large round, and 2 threaded strands.
3. Twist/glue or tape the end to prevent fraying while stringing.
I used a white twine-like thread, which unravels pretty easily. Cheap gift wrap tape on the end and clipped to a point served as a sufficient needle (and didn’t need to be threaded on an actual needle). I tried gluing the end instead, which worked okay for the larger beads, but still unraveled with the smaller threads because it kept catching on the inside of the unsanded wood.
4. For a more professional look, tie the ends in a loop with a glass bead.
With the carved beads, I threaded a wood bead and glass bead in a pattern; for the other two kinds, I threaded just the wood beads and finished on both ends with a glass bead. The loop on each end also served a purpose since it could be used to drape the end onto the tree. You can also make tassels for the ends if you prefer or aren’t planning on needing the loops to hang — there’s a great tutorial for that here.
5. Cover ends on the tree with ornaments.
Since I mixed and matched the wood beads, I wanted to also disguise the end of where one strand ended and the other began. Strategically-placed ornaments did just the trick!
There you have it: a somewhat short but simple tutorial, and with a little cost savings. I did the math, and this cost me around $50 for all of the strands. The same would have cost me around three times as much for the same quality, and the variety will let me drape them anywhere! The only other inexpensive version I found online that I liked that was comparable were these, but they have a majority of white painted beads instead, and I would argue you’d need at least 3 (online reviews say “I wish I would’ve ordered a second”, but that would still probably look pretty dinky with how many my tree took).
I’ll be sharing more on each room (living room, kitchen, and dining room) as its finished this week! Oh! and don’t forget, there’s still a little time left to enter the wine rack giveaway! If you missed that, go back and check it out.
What is your Christmas “theme” this year? If you have one, did you make any handmade items for it? I’ll have another idea next that ties in too!