DIY Fall Garland Made with Real Autumn Leaves

I was thinking of making some kind of Thanksgiving banner this year. And while browsing Etsy and Pinterest for easy Thanksgiving banner ideas I had a stroke of insight. Why not make a banner/ garland out of real fall leaves?

I am not a very crafty person. But I do excel at something: collecting leaves. My kids and I love to collect leaves and other natural objects that have fallen from trees and plants. And fall is one of our favorite times to go for a Nature Treasure Walk, as we like to call them.

Now I'm sure at least 100 other people have already posted how to make a natural leaf garland on Pinterest. But I want you to know that I came up with this idea all by myself, and I'm pretty pleased about that.

If you'd like to make your own fall leaf garland, and are lucky to live in a nice moderate climate like mine where the trees are still losing leaves, here are the steps.

[Check out this post for photos of the leaf banner I made with my 5yo in 2017.]

DIY Fall Leaf Garland

1. Go on a walk with your kids. Collect leaves. Look for a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors, but especially look for leaves that are not yet dried out. I imagine that the thickest, waxiest leaves will last the longest. It occurred to me while collecting that a windy day would be ideal for leaf-collecting because there would be many newly fallen not-yet-dried-and-crinkly leaves on the ground. (Note: For flatter leaves, press leaves in a heavy book overnight.)

2. Grab a needle and some embroidery floss. Measure and cut the length of embroidery floss you want to use. You could probably use something besides embroidery floss, but I found that it worked very well: not too thin, not too thick, and smooth enough that the leaves didn't catch too much on it as I threaded them along the length of the garland.

3. Spread out your leaves and then thread them along your floss in any order you like. It works well if you thread up and back inside each leaf. Don't worry if they flip over. You can fix that when you hang them up.

4. You can thread them all in the same direction if you like. I made my 14-foot one with all the stems pointing up. But my daughter made a shorter more haphazard one that also turned out well.

5. If making an especially long garland (like my 14-foot one), consider threading from both ends. The longer the embroidery floss, the greater the chance of knots and entanglements. If you want a very long garland, you might consider threading several shorter lengths and then knotting them together.

6. Hang and admire.

This was a fun project to do with my kids. They love collecting leaves. And it was easy for them to help with the assembling and threading. My 4yo even helped use the needle (her first time using one).

I'm not sure how long our leaf garlands will last. I'm guessing a week, maybe two weeks tops. If they look decent at Thanksgiving I'll consider that a real coup. But it doesn't matter, because it was fun to collect the leaves, the garlands were easy to make, and my kids and my husband and I all think they look pretty amazing.


Find more ideas for an eco-friendly and budget-friendly holiday season 

Related Posts

Two Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Thanksgiving Reflections
Kids and Nature
Eco-friendly and Budget-friendly Arts & Crafts Supplies
Choosing Arts & Crafts Materials that Are Safe for Kids

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  1. Way to go Betsy- the garlands are beautiful.

  2. I love decorating with natural items so this is right up my alley.

  3. Cute idea! I love it. We haven't had the best year for fall leaves because it was really warm for the first part of the season and then it froze. But maybe next year!


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