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how lovely are your branches: using the leftover trimmings from our christmas tree {part 1: christmas swag}

Waste not, want not.  A penny saved is a penny earned.  Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.  A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.

These wise sayings make a lot of sense when you really consider the message, don’t they?  We live in a small rural town (about 1400 people) on the east coast of Canada.  My Love likes to tell people we need to drive an hour to buy a pair of socks.  That’s mostly true…in a pinch you just may find an acceptable offering at the local grocery store (which also has a small hardware area and a few other necessities).  Because of this, we have learned to take some of these sayings to heart.

Case in point:  the Christmas tree.

We brought home our tree a few days ago and let it settle in.  Before decorating, we decided we needed to remove some of the lower branches if we were ever going to put gifts under there.  My Love dutifully cut until it was just right.  And I had a significant pile of boughs.  I had a few projects in mind for those branches.  A wreath.  A swag.  A centrepiece.  A bucket of greenery with branches and such.  I began working to see just how far those boughs would go to saving me some moolah…and a trip to the big town.

First things first:  gather materials.  I had my pile of boughs, several types of wreath, ribbon, and a selection of decorations.

First project:  a swag for our front door.

christmas swag

  • I began looking for the most appropriate sized branches for the overall dimensions of my swag.  You could mix your greenery, if you wish.
  • I then continued to stack progressively smaller branches, trimming as necessary, until I was happy with the fullness of my swag.


  • Carefully lining up all my ends, I tied them all together with some twine.
  • I wrapped the ends several times to secure them.


  • Next came the bow.  Originally, I was going to go with burlap; but I decided to add a pop of red outside, as the lights on our porch are white.  I had a red and white mesh ribbon that would suffice.  I also thought that the mesh fabric would hold up better in the crazy weather we get.
  • I measured about three yards, folding over twice in the middle.  I didn’t have to worry about a wrong side. I wanted a simple two loop bow with two 10-12 inch tails.  I had to hold it down with anything I could reach, ’cause it wanted to stay curled up!


  • The ribbon I used could not be tied, so I cinched the middle with more twine (you could also use wire).  If you’re anxious about making bows, you can watch this video and you’ll be a pro in no time
  • I folded the ends and made a diagonal cut to create a dovetail.
  • I fluffed it up and tied the bow onto my swag.


  • Weave the tails into the swag.
  • Tie or wire your decorations to your swag.  I used three silver bells.  I thought it would be nice to hear them jingle as we go in and out.


Voila!  A lovely swag for nothing…I already had everything I needed!


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Look for more great ideas here:

DIY Salvaged Junk Projects #456 @ Funky Junk Interiors
Best Friday Features @ Tatertots & Jello
Happiness is Homemade @ Bloghetti


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