Cherie Langlois
December 8, 2010

Holiday swag
Photo by Cherie Langlois
I couldn’t resist making holiday swags with debris leftover from last week’s storm.

A few weeks ago, a fairly impressive wind storm littered Douglas fir branches around our farm, plus snapped off the dead top of the big, old fir gracing our horses’ pasture. (Fortunately, it missed the horses, wisely holed up in their barn.) It seemed a shame to let all of those branches go to waste, and so—being in a holiday-decorating frame of mind—I spent a pleasant hour last week making Christmas swags for our front door and gate.

Making a swag from natural greenery found on your own farm is incredibly easy if you have the right kinds of evergreen trees, shrubs and plants available.  Here’s what I did:

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  1. Armed with pruners, I gathered some of the fragrant, downed fir limbs and then wandered up our woodlot-bordered gravel drive snipping an armful of other pretty greenery to add to the swag: cedar and hemlock branches, sword fern, salal, and holly. (These are all Northwest natives except for the latter, which has sprung up here and there on our property from seeds spread by birds.)
  2. Back on our front porch, I separated this natural booty into two piles. First, I placed several long fir branches on the bottom, with the ones on either side sweeping slightly outward to form a balanced swag-like shape. Then I layered the rest in the following order, with each layer a shorter length than the last (snipping with the pruners as needed):  cedar and hemlock branches, sword ferns, and finally salal and holly.
  3. Gathering the branches and stems together at the top of the swag, I wrapped them securely with a length of flexible hotwire, leaving extra for hanging. (You can also find wire specifically for making wreaths at craft supply stores.)
  4. I keep a bag of velvety bows, pine cones, and other decorations saved from holiday wreaths and arrangements given to us in the past that I use to decorate swags. On one, I attached a red bow, pine cones and faux holly berries to the top. And to the other, I fastened a white bow and strands of gold and white beads.
  5. After attaching the wreaths to our front door and gate, I took a moment to adjust branches and ornaments and tried to creatively neaten up things a bit. These quickly-made swags are certainly nothing fancy, but I love their pretty simplicity and that they come mostly from nature, right here on our farm.

Happy decorating!

~ Cherie

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