Fireplace mantle with red Christmas garland made from ball ornaments draped across the mantel and other vintage styles Christmas decorations on top of the mantel.
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How to Make a Breathtaking Christmas Ball Ornament Garland on the Cheap

Inside: The most elegant Christmas ball ornament garland you've ever seen! Learn how to DIY your own elegant ball Garland for under $30.

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As I turned the corner, it suddenly appeared in all of its festive glory: the massive Christmas tree in the middle of Disney's Grand Californian Hotel dripping in splendid elegant holiday decor. And across the stone fireplace mantel, strung across the tree, was the thickest most generously appointed ornament ball garland I'd ever seen. It was a fairy tale Christmas scene.

And I wanted it.

I had no idea where to buy a glass ball garland.

And I was worried it would break.

If Disney was using it, it was probably expensive and custom-made … or both!

My online shopping search yielded:

  • Anemic strings of single balls (lame!)
  • Ridiculously short and expensive ball garlands
  • Garlands made of wood beads (NOT elegant!)
Screenshot of silver ball ornament garland on website with price of $69.99 circled

$69.99?! Nope.

I want Grand. Bold. Chunky.

Like if Gloria from Madagascar was a Christmas garland, it would be this plumpy garland I envisioned.

Good news: I knew it you can't buy it, then you can make it.

And I discovered how to make a gloriously LUXURIOUS ornament ball garland for under $30 quickly in a few minutes.

Fireplace mantle decorated for Christmas with chunky red ball ornament garland

Are Real or Fake Garlands Best?

Garlands were originally made of holly and natural foliage. That means you'd have to make a new one every year!

I love the smell of pine boughs at Christmas time but I wanted a garland I could use year after year. And maybe even pass down to my kids.

I created this garland over 4 years ago.

It has survived:

  • a long-distance move
  • 4 Christmas celebrations
  • been displayed on a mantel, a Christmas tree, and across a bookcase
Fireplace mantle decorated for Christmas with chunky red ball ornament garland

To make this ornament ball garland LAST make sure you follow all of my instructions for how to make it in the best, most affordable way possible.

What You Need to Make a DIY Ornament Ball Garland

Before you can get the supplies to make this unbreakable ornament ball garland you need to know how long to make it.

Step one: Measure the space where you'll hang the garland.

You'll need about 100 standard (2-2.5″ diameter) shatterproof ornaments for every 3 feet of finished garland you want.

Step two: gather supplies.

Ball Ornament Garland Supply List:

How to Choose Supplies to make a DIY Garland:

Avoid costly mistakes! Keep the following important tips in mind for choosing supplies to make this DIY garland:

Choosing Ornaments

I recommend choosing shatter-proof ornaments to make this project.

Glass ball ornaments ware brittle and will likely break while making or moving the garland. And satin ball ornaments fray and leave strings everywhere.

Shatter-proof Christmas ornaments are:

  • Not likely to break when hung
  • Easy to store without breaking
  • Will not break while creating the garland

Craft stores and big box stores like Target usually offer large tubs of plastic ornaments during the holiday season. I lucked out, finding them on sale for over 50% off. Or you can get these in bulk right now.

Collage of 3 images showing plastic colorful Christmas ball ornaments in store displays

Look for ornaments with these features:

  • 2″ to 2.5″ diameter
  • Top is permanently affixed with a hole for a string on top (not a hook)
  • Shatterproof
  • Round or ball shape

Using a variety of shapes and sizes of shatterproof ornaments to construct the garland will create a lumpy garland.

The Best String for Making an Ornament Ball Garland

Ball garlands are heavy. Sturdy string is needed to support the weight of the ornaments, especially for garlands longer than 3 feet.

Wire: I thought about using wire for the garland. As the wire bends over time, the metal becomes brittle and could break easily.

Twine: Twine drapes easily and was less likely to break like wire.

I chose a heavy craft twine like this one to string the ornament garland since I wanted mine to be at least 6 feet long.

Prevent Fraying with a Yarn Darning Needle

The twine will fray on the end if you try to thread the end of the twine directly through the hole in the top of each ornament.

As the end of the twine frays, it will become more difficult to insert through the hole of the next ornament, requiring you to stop assembly and trim the end of the twine.

This can affect your measurements as you'll be cutting the twine shorter and shorter as you build the garland and it may end up being too short for the length of garland you wish to make.

Two ways to prevent twine from fraying while creating the garland:

  • Wrap tape around the end of the twine to keep it together
  • Thread the twine through a yarn darning needle

A yarn darning needle has a large eye that is easy to thread with twine.

These thick needles area easy to handle for repetitive projects such as this garland. A stiff needle is easier to thread through the top of an ornament than a bendable piece of twine, even if that twine has been wrapped with tape.

Get yarn darning needles at most large sewing supply stores or you can just get these ones without having to brave the sewing machine store.

Why can't you just burn the end of the twine to prevent fraying?

Polyester twines can be melted on the end to prevent fraying. I recommend using a cotton twine because it is better for the environment, softer to handle, and won't off-gas like plastic based twines.

Cotton twine will burn rather than melt if exposed to fire or heat. The end of cotton twine cannot be melted to prevent fraying.

How to String Ornaments for a Ball Garland

Step three: Create the garland.

Follow these steps to make your ornament ball garland:

  1. Cut the twine to desired length of the garland plus 2 yards. The excess twine will allow one yard on each of the garland for tying the ends off and affixing it to the tree or mantel when using it for decorating.
  2. Measure 1 yard from the end of the twine. Loop the twine through the top of one ornament and tie off with a knot.
  3. Thread the other end of the twine through the eye of the yarn darning needle.
  4. Thread the needle through the tops of each ornament, sliding the ornaments down the thread and gathering them together tightly towards the other end of the twine.
  5. Next, continue filling the twine with ornaments until there is one yard of empty twine left on the string.
  6. Tie off this end of twine to the final ornament.
  7. Finally, remove the needle and save for another project.

The longer the garland, the more time it will take to create. I created this garland while watching a movie one evening with my family.

Fireplace mantle decorated for Christmas with chunky red ball ornament garland

Make multiple garlands for every part of your home! If you love Christmas and have multiple trees like me, imagine all the fun garlands you can make. Rainbow anyone?

Frequently Asked Questions and Common Problems to Avoid

Q: What do I do to stop the balls from falling off the garland or the tops from breaking away from the balls?

Hot glue the tops of the ornaments to the balls to prevent them from popping off.

Q: How do I prevent the string from showing when I display the garland?

Slide the ornaments closer together or add more ornaments to make the garland fuller. The string should not be visible.

Q: Can I use yarn or ribbon or wire instead of the twine?

Yes, you can use anything you can thread through the ornament tops. Keep in mind:

  • Yarn fibers may stretch over time under the weight of the ornaments
  • Wire gets brittle the more it is bent and may break over time
  • Ribbon may show through the ornaments if they are not bunched together close enough to make a full garland

Q: How do I store the garland after Christmas is over?

Carefully drape the garland inside of a bag or plastic and keep covered so the balls don't lose their finish or lustre. You can also take the garland apart after Christmas, store the balls loose, and then put the garland back together or make a new decoration the next year.

Q: I want the ends of the garland to hang down like you have on your mantel. How can I do hide the strings on the ends of the garland?

Trim or tuck the strings into the garland to hide them.

Decorating with an Ornament Ball Garland

Step Four: Display the garland.

Ideas for decorating with your ornament ball garland decoration:

  • drape around a Christmas tree as a garland
  • wrap around the base of the Christmas tree (if you need a custom tree skirt FAST, try this DIY for under $10!)
  • lay across the top of a window valance
  • drape across the top of bookcases
  • run along a banister for staircase Christmas decorations – HGTV shared this awesome tutorial using a pine bough garland as the base
  • place on top of a Christmas fireplace mantel
  • curve around gifts to prevent trampling

I displayed my garland on both the fireplace mantel and across bookcases over the last few years.

How to display the ornament garland on a fireplace mantel

The longer the garland, the heavier it is.

We used metal cup hooks screwed into the wood mantel to hold the garland in place, removing the hooks after Christmas.

Customize your garland with bows and mini Christmas stockings at the corners like I did here:

Fireplace mantle decorated for Christmas with chunky red ball ornament garland with bows tied at the corners

For stone or drywall mantels, use high-hold adhesive clips to hold the garland in place. Or drape under and behind heavy items to hold it in place. Prevent slipping by tying the garland to your tree with chenille stems like these.

Where Will You Display Your Holiday Garland?

Drop me a comment and share your idea!! If you post your pics to Instagram, please be sure to tag @smartfundiy so we can all admire your handy-work.

Save this idea for later on Pinterest:

Graphic with title showing Fireplace mantle decorated for Christmas with chunky red ball ornament garland

About the Author

Author Profile

Jennifer Priest is a 20+ year designer in the arts & crafts industry and home DIYer with a passion for creativity. An Army veteran raised on a ranch, from her experience, she shares smart DIY projects that save money and fun craft ideas that anyone can make. Besides blogging, Jennifer is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Hypnosis, and MER, and coaches other online entrepreneurs on money mindset, business, and living an intentional life. When not blogging, Jennifer is having adventures in the wilderness, on road trips, playing with her cats, and making paleo food.

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2 Comments

  1. I tried this a couple of years ago and all the ornaments drifted off to one side. The garland was not round. How do you prevent this without a glue gun?

    Thank you

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