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How to Make a Winter Swag With Fresh Evergreens

Kristina is a parent of two, writer, remote worker, and volunteer. In her spare time, she enjoys nature, trying new things, and lots of DIY.

If you want an alternative to the traditional wreath this year, consider a swag.

If you want an alternative to the traditional wreath this year, consider a swag.

The Season for Swag

Wreaths are always a festive decoration to hang during the holiday season, but have you ever displayed a swag? If you have an evergreen tree that needs trimming, use the branches and DIY your own real winter swag. Swags are easier to make than wreaths, and they smell just as fresh and woody.

Hang your DIY swag outside for a fun and rustic holiday decoration. Using mostly natural materials, you can create an inexpensive and eco-friendly winter swag that will brighten your porch (in no time at all!)

Check out my tutorial and create your own in four simple steps.

Materials Needed

  • Work gloves
  • Hedge clippers
  • Old clothes
  • Duck tape
  • Pinecones
  • Ribbon
  • Floral wire
  • Twine
  • Dried oranges (optional)

Step 1. Cut the Branches

For my swag, I used mostly white pine, with some blue spruce and fir. Some swags were made completely of pine, and some had several types of evergreen combined. In order for the swag to last longer, wait as long as possible before trimming the branches. I trimmed a few branches off my trees in late November (before it got too cold), and the swags stayed fresh through the holidays.

First, decide how large you want your swag. Then trim the branches according to that size. Mine were close to 2 feet in length, but any size is fine. Mini-swags are also very cute! Use your hedge clippers and a pair of work gloves. Spruce especially, can be very prickly and pine has sap. The work gloves will save your fingers from getting sticky and poked. Don't forget to wear old clothes (I did get sap on my shirt a few times while assembling the branches).

Check out your area for pinecones. If there are any lying around, collect them. You can use them later to embellish your swag.

Deciding on a layout

Deciding on a layout

Step 2. Bundle the Branches

Use a table that you don't mind getting sap on. Or, use cardboard or newspaper underneath the branches to protect the table. It's not a ton of sap, but it could get on the table, so it's best to protect your surface.

Arrange your branches. Use the longer, fuller pieces on the bottom. My swags typically have several layers of pine on the bottom, with a few stems of spruce and fir on the top. It takes several attempts to get the arrangement just right. Once you have your bundle just how you like it, take a piece of duck tape and wrap it tightly around the stems at the top. This will hold the swag together. You'll cover the tape later with ribbon.

Step 3. Embellish the Swag

Now that the basic layout is ready, it's time to decorate your swag! Choose a roll of pretty ribbon (I found nice 2-inch ribbon at the Dollar Tree). Use hot glue to cover the duck tape with a piece of ribbon. Make a bow for the top of your swag. Here's a tutorial if you're like me and don't have a clue how to make bows! Use wired ribbon if you want your bow to have more structure.

Use floral wire to tie on the pinecones. Pinecones can be sticky. To reduce the amount of sap, check out how you can bake the pinecones (at a low heat) before tying them on. This will help dry the sap. If you are bringing your swag inside (which I don't recommend), baking will also help remove the bugs from the pinecones.

Dried oranges can also give the swag a fun, natural look. After I dried my oranges, I used hot glue to attach them to the swag.

Step 4. Add a Hanger

Using a piece of twine, yarn, or string; tie a small loop to the back of your swag. It's ready for display!

To keep your swag looking fresh longer, use a small water bottle to gently mist the branches. Do this regularly. Avoid direct sunlight to help prevent the needles from turning brown. Keep your swag outside. It'll dry up fairly quickly inside (plus you'll end up with dried needles all over the floor!)

Once your swag has started to dry and the needles are turning brown, it's time to disassemble. Remove the floral wire, glue, and duck tape. Save the bow for next year. Pinecones and pine needles can be composted (they just take longer to break down). Don't use any paint, glitter, or hard to remove glue, if you want to return your natural materials (branches, pinecones) to the outdoors.

Hang up your swag and enjoy your DIY project!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Kristina BH