A few years ago we found ourselves celebrating Christmas on the road at a hotel, without a tree or our usual decorations. Plus, we had a four-year-old with us who needed to be entertained for an 8-hour flight to our destination. The solution? A portable, pocket-size Christmas garland that can be decorated and assembled on an airplane tray table and packs up into an Altoids tin. We hung it up across the front of the desk in our hotel like a mantel, and it turned out so cute that we still use it sometimes, even when we’re at home. This project would also be a fun little gift to send to someone who can’t be there to celebrate Christmas with you whom you want to share a little cheer!
What you’ll need:
- Templates (download below)
- Cardstock (white, green, red, glitter, etc. depending on how much coloring you want to do)
- 2 yards of baker’s twine or yarn
- 24 1/2-inch-diameter (or thereabouts) round stickers, any color (for attaching shapes to twine)
- 1/4-inch-diameter round stickers in a variety of colors (for decorating trees, making snowman buttons, etc.)
- Other stickers, gold stars, etc. for decorating
- Altoids tin
- Optional: Hole punch, small star-shaped punch for cutting out decorations
- Optional: Glue stick (only necessary if you’re not using stickers)
The template file has one page with all the shapes (snowman, tree, stocking, candy cane, ornament, star, wreath) that you can use with any color cardstock you like; one page with just trees in case you want all trees; one page with just the trees and wreaths meant to be printed on green cardstock; and one page with just snowmen and candy canes for white cardstock. Mix and match however you like.
What you do:
1. Print out the templates (the PDF) you want to use on cardstock or print on white paper and transfer to cardstock if you’re doing multiple colors of cardstock. (If you’re using a cutting machine, skip printing and go to Step 2.)
2. Cut out the shapes. Our garland uses 23 shapes on 2 yards (72″) of twine. If you have a cutting machine, you can use that to cut out the shapes faster – I’ve also included SVG files in the download, but fair warning I haven’t tested them with the cutting machine, so please review carefully before cutting and let me know if you have tips for improving them! I did all the cutting by hand because I wanted to use lots of different card colors. Either way, if you’re traveling by air it’s best to do the cutting before you go because scissors + airport security = headache.
3. Decorate the shapes with stickers, markers or glued-on cutout shapes, however your heart desires. Give the snowman faces and outfits, decorate the trees, customize the stockings and ornaments, go crazy. Raid your office supply or scrapbooking stash for stickers, or hit up the local office supply store for round “color coding stickers.” You could do the whole thing with just markers, but the sticker dots were a big hit.
4. Use one 1/2-inch round sticker to attach the back of each shape to the twine. (We used smaller stickers to attach the wreaths.) My garland has about 3″ of space from the center of one dot to the center of the next. You could make the spacing wider if you want to use fewer shapes.
5. Fold it up into your Altoids tin and tuck it in a pocket for the most portable, festive Christmas ever! If you want to get extra fancy you could decorate the tin with washi tape, decoupage (wrapping paper scraps, anyone?) or stickers.
Tip: You can further customize this garland by cutting out letters to spell a message, or numbers for the new year, or shapes related to your destination or your special family traditions. You could even run with the idea for a completely different holiday, like sending a tin of hearts on a string for Valentine’s Day or candles and stars of David for Hanukkah. Have fun with it!
This printable is free for your personal, non-commercial use – just sign up for my newsletter (also free, and I promise not to spam you, and if you’re already on my list it won’t double you up!) to download a zip file containing the PDF and the SVG files:
Pocket-size Christmas Garland