Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How to Make Christmas Garlands and Swags


Snowman Garland

Who doesn't smile at the sight of a snowman? The following project will allow you to stay cozy and warm inside while creating a craft masterpiece that represents the outdoors.

A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland

These happy snow people will bring a smile to your face every time you catch a glimpse of them!

A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland

You'll Need:

  • Tracing paper
  • Pencil
  • Temporary spray adhesive
  • 5-inch length of wood (such as poplar or basswood), 8 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/8-inch drill bit, 5 inches in length
  • #2 reverse tooth scroll saw blades
  • Scroll saw
  • Medium- and fine-grade sandpaper
  • Tack cloth
  • Acrylic paints: buttercream, Prussian blue, white, fiesta pink, bittersweet orange, crocus yellow, tangerine, burnt umber, black, heritage green, mallard green, chamomile, light Victorian teal, pthalo green, mocha brown, rhythm 'n' blue, touch o' pink, Bahama purple, royal fuchsia, sweetheart blush, purple, pale lilac, drizzle grey, napthol crimson, tompte red, periwinkle blue, coastline blue, pthalo blue, pink quartz, pink silk, ocean reef blue, sparkle glaze
  • Paintbrushes: various sizes of flat, angled-shaders, liners; stippler
  • Stylus
  • Interior/exterior varnish
  • 16 round wood beads, 1/2 inch each
  • 28 round wood beads, 3/8 inch each
  • Two 1/8-inch dowel rods, approximately 12 inches long each
  • 2 yards hemp cord

To Make A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland:

  1. Copy and cut out patterns. Download snow people patterns here. Apply temporary spray adhesive to backs of patterns, and apply them to wood in direction of the grain. Rough cut pieces apart into blocks, being sure that side edges are perpendicular to dotted lines.

    A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Apply patterns to wood.

  2. With the 1/8-inch drill bit, carefully drill through where dotted line indicates. (You may want to practice on wood scraps to get the feel of going through wood without breaking sides.) Be sure to stay in center of each piece so bit doesn't "blow out" sides. Don't force bit through the wood; let bit do the work.

    A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Drill through area marked
    with dotted line.

  3. After drilling all holes, cut around perimeter of all pieces with #2 reverse tooth blade of scroll saw. Lightly sand pieces, and use tack cloth to remove dust.

  4. General painting instructions for all snow people: When painting base colors, continue painting around sides of all pieces. Base coat bodies, heads, and faces with buttercream. Paint all clothing, hats, and carried items according to individual instructions. (Specific painting instructions for each snow person follow.) Float shade around all buttercream areas (including sides) with Prussian blue.

  5. Use stippler brush to stipple over body and head with white. Keep stippling light and airy, and allow floated shades to show through. Stipple sides of snow people in same manner.

    A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Stipple snow people
    bodies white.

  6. Dry-brush cheeks with a very light hint of fiesta pink, building color. Basecoat nose with bittersweet orange. Float a line of crocus yellow on top third of nose. Float a shade on underside of nose with tangerine. With liner brush, make a tiny line of burnt umber on underside of nose.

  7. With small side of stylus and black paint, dot eyes. Line mouth and eyebrows with black. With stylus and white paint, add a highlight in each eye.

  8. Snowman with star: Basecoat star with crocus yellow. Basecoat mittens, hat band, and pompom with heritage green. Base coat scarf and hat with mallard green.

  9. Dry-brush center area of star with chamomile. Dry-brush green areas very lightly with light Victorian teal to highlight.

  10. Paint stripes on scarf with heritage green. Float shade on all green areas with pthalo green. Float shade on star with mocha brown.

  11. Snowwoman with baby: Basecoat hat, cape, and mittens with rhythm 'n' blue. Basecoat baby blanket, hatband, and bow with touch o' pink. Dry brush center areas of cape with Bahama purple.

    A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Basecoat cape on snowwoman
    with baby rhythm 'n' blue.


  12. Float shade on blanket, hatband, and bow with royal fuchsia. Refloat blanket, hatband, and bow with sweetheart blush to strengthen. Float shade on hat, cape, and mittens with purple. Dry-brush purple areas with pale lilac.

  13. Basecoat hat flower with crocus yellow. Float shade with mocha brown. Dot center of flower with crocus yellow.

    A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Use crocus yellow on hat.

  14. Snowman with broom: Basecoat hat with drizzle grey. Basecoat scarf and mittens with napthol crimson. Basecoat hatband and broom with crocus yellow. Basecoat broom handle with mocha brown.

  15. Float shade on hatband with napthol crimson. Float shade on broom with mocha brown. Float shade on bristles and broom handle with burnt umber.

  16. Dry-brush mittens and center area of scarf with bittersweet orange. Paint lines on scarf with crocus yellow. Float shade on scarf and mittens with tompte red. Float shade on hat with black. Dry-brush top and sides of hat with black.

  17. Snowman with shovel: Basecoat hatband, pompom, and scarf with crocus yellow. Basecoat hat and mittens with bittersweet orange. Basecoat shovel with drizzle grey. Basecoat shovel handle with mocha brown.

  18. Float shade on hat, scarf, and mittens with tangerine. Strengthen floats with mocha brown. Float shade on shovel with black. Float shade on shovel handle with burnt umber.

  19. Snowman with birdhouse: Basecoat hat and scarf with periwinkle blue. Basecoat hatband, pompom, and mittens with coastline blue. Basecoat birdhouse with chamomile. Basecoat roof and birdhouse pole with mocha brown.

  20. Float shade on hat and scarf with pthalo blue. Float shade on birdhouse with mocha brown. Float shade on roof and birdhouse pole with burnt umber. Use large end of stylus and black paint to dot hole on birdhouse.

  21. Snowwoman with basket: Basecoat hat, hat bow, mittens, apron, and apron bow with pink quartz. Base coat ruffles on hat and apron with touch o' pink. Basecoat basket with crocus yellow.

  22. Dry-brush top of hat, center of mittens, and apron with pink silk. Dry-brush hat and apron ruffles lightly in center with white.

  23. Float shade on hat, mittens, apron, and bows with royal fuchsia. Float shade on basket with mocha brown. Strengthen floats on hat, apron, and mittens with sweetheart blush. Float shade on inside of basket with burnt umber. Lightly strengthen floats on basket and do line work with burnt umber.

  24. Snowflakes: Basecoat snowflakes with buttercream. Stipple (including sides) with white, allowing buttercream to show through. Float shade with ocean reef blue. Stipple sides of snowflakes lightly with ocean reef blue. Lightly paint, including sides, with sparkle glaze.

    A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland
    ©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
    Stipple sides of snowflakes white.

  25. After each piece is finished, apply several coats of varnish. Let dry between coats.

  26. Garland beads: After stringing small beads on a dowel, paint them white. After stringing larger beads on other dowel, paint them ocean reef blue. When dry, apply several coats of varnish while beads are still on dowels. Remove when varnish is dry.

  27. Finishing: Tie a blue bead to the end of the hemp cord. First string on a white bead, then a blue bead, a white bead, a snowflake, a white bead, a blue bead, a white bead, and a snow person. Repeat process, stringing on remaining beads, snowflakes, and snow people. Finish by tying on remaining blue bead to end of hemp. The finished garland will be about 32 inches long.

Whether you're decorating a mantel, doorway, or staircase, nothing quite says the holidays like a homemade swag. The crafty gems detailed here will brighten up any home with tons of holiday cheer.

©Publications International, Ltd.

About the Craft Designers:

Williamsburg-Inspired Christmas Swag: Sylvia Montroy

Gingerbread Garland: Trena Hegdahl

Sweet Cinnamon Holiday Swag: Ed Smith, AIFD

Santa Hangs It Up: Diane Hardy

Santas in a Row Mantel Swag: Alesha Whitney

Well-Lit Welcome: Delores Ruzicka

Grizzly Bear Garland: Sharon Miller Cindrich

Christmas Mantel Topper: Allan Howze

Christmas Arch: Allan Howze

A Lovely Assortment of Snow People Garland: Sheila A. Bergner