What is Garland?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 August 2019
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Garland is a traditional Christmas tree decoration in many homes. The most standard types are long ropes of either gold or silver that look like a collection of short pieces of tinsel. Garland tends to be wrapped or looped around the Christmas tree after you have put on the lights and before you put on the ornaments. Since in some areas, tinsel is no longer available and cannot be legally sold, many have turned to the wonder of these decorative ropes to give their tree that extra Christmas glow and shimmer.

Though shiny tinsel-like ropes can come in traditional metallic colors, there are actually numerous types and colors you can drape around Christmas trees. Newer colors of tinsel-like garland can make your Christmas tree pop with color. Consider blues, hot pink, white, red, purple, or iridescent white for a completely different look. Unless your tree is flocked, green garland tends to disappear into the tree, so it may not be the best choice.


Many people consider all strings you would wrap around the tree as garland. For instance you can buy stringed beads, ropes of shiny snowflakes, strings of “real” looking candy or cookies and a variety of others. If you want whimsical strings on your tree, you’ll find many Internet stores that specialize in various tree wraps or ropes that will make your Christmas tree the most unique on the block. Homemade types can include strings of popcorn, or even prettier, strings of popcorn and cranberries. If you want to give a gift to your neighborhood’s birds, consider several strings of popcorn around an outdoor tree as a winter treat.

Though we typically think of garland as for use around a tree, it can be used to liven up the décor of any home. You can loop it around doorframes, or windows, and intertwine it up the handles of staircases. Since most of these decorative ropes are plastic, they can be used outdoors successfully without much deterioration. You can therefore use them to decorate trees or bushes outside, and they generally do not pose the danger to birds and small animals that tinsel can.

One recent style that can really make your decorating easy is garland that is strung with either plug in or battery operated Christmas lights. These are wonderful for either indoor or outdoor decorations and can really make your home a very pretty Christmas place. Do watch pets around any type of decorations like these, especially younger pets. They may find garland attractive for chewing and some are ingenious when it comes to pulling it off trees.

You’ll find this wonderful decorative tool at most department stores, drug stores and even grocery stores around the Christmas season. It may be difficult to determine how much to buy. Many types have guidelines, which suggest a minimum amount based on the height of your tree. This doesn’t always take into account width of the tree. One suggestion is to buy one to two more ropes than you think you’ll need. This way you can adequately cover your tree and have some left over, possibly for decorating your home. Further, you can often cut the strings if a rope proves to be too long and overwhelms a tree.


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Post 3

I've honestly never thought of using any kind of garland outside, but I absolutely love the idea of wrapping our small pine trees in popcorn garland for the birds to eat!

I would really like to do this next Christmas, but I want to be assured that it's safe. Is there any hazard at all that the popcorn could present for the birds, or any other animal that may try to eat it?

Post 2

We always use white garland on our Christmas tree because it gives it a more snowy look. But for the rest of the house we use garland that looks like evergreen. I like it because our whole house has a more outdoor feel.

I would even buy fresh garland if I could, but we have too many allergy sufferers in our family. We make do with the fake version though, and it looks just as good.

Post 1

I never thought of Christmas garland as being made of tiny pieces of tinsel, but I suppose that's exactly what a lot of garland is. I had no idea that tinsel is illegal to sell in some places! Is this why the garland was created? And why is tinsel illegal?

We always had tinsel and garland on our Christmas tree when I was a kid. I'm not fond of the look now, but I remember loving it back then.

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