A long time ago when November was growing older and December was young…

…I festooned this staircase with real evergreen garland.

It had to be real.

No faux for me.

I searched all over town Thanksgiving weekend for yards and yards and yards of real garland.

The kind that smells like Christmas.

The kind that you can sink your nose into.

The kind that’s related to hot chocolate and Christmas carols and bells and jolly stumps of pipes and reindeer everywhere.

At first it was amazing.


Every time I walked down the staircase…

…I would pat myself on my Christmas back.

The smells.

The feels.

The tiny little evergreen branches tucked over that 100-year-old staircase.

The way the greenery draped over the side of the banister.

I was so inspired that I tied on doves at every loop of the garland.

And then tied on white satin bows.

Decorating brilliance at its finest.

And then?

One day I was walking up the staircase and I noticed a tiny little piece of greenery on the ground.

Who knocked this off? I asked.

How did this happen? I wondered aloud.

No one knew how it happened.

No one saw how the greenery ended up on the floor.

So I shrugged my shoulders and left the mystery unsolved and went on my merry Christmas way.

A couple of days later?

More pieces of greenery on the ground.

More tiny evergreen flakes.

More branches on the stairs.

And I realized no one was knocking the branches off.

No one was responsible for all the mess.

And the pieces.

And the branches.

And the bits of evergreen.


What I thought was a brilliant Christmas decorating decision?

Just turned into a HOT CHRISTMAS MESS.

And now?

I’m just trying to hold me and myself and my garland together for the caroling party on Friday night.

Two more days.

I hope it can make it.

I’m spritzing it and babying it and talking to it and telling it to hold on.

And if you are coming to the party on Friday?

Those aren’t evergreen droppings.

They are party favors.

Take one with you when you go.

PS  Did you see where the needlepoint ended up?

I tried it in the office, first, but it told me it needed a new home.

And now I get to visit it every day.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Alice Hanson Alice Hanson

    KariAnne! I love to wake up with a morning chuckle! Your post fits the bill! I know on your end not so much! I’m in New Orleans with my niece and the decorating is enchanting just as your staircase! Merry Christmas and smiles, alice

  2. Image for Jeanette Jeanette

    I use faux garland outside only. In Kentucky it's cool enough in winter that it will last until the jonquils start to come up. But inside I only use faux garland, because...well you found out why. But even when it's crispy it still says "Christmas" and your guests will appreciate the effort.

  3. Image for beverlee lyons beverlee lyons

    It is a beautiful mess...and you might want to consider replacing it, for your own peace of mind...and everything is on sale now...just mix and match it up....I love your home and your heart.

  4. Image for Liz Shivel Liz Shivel

    Your house is lovely and your decorating is beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I’d love to have a 100-year old staircase to decorate! Of course, the rest of the house too! I also hope the greens will hang on for another couple of days, and hopefully the lucious fragrance is still there to enjoy. What are the colors of cream and white that you use in your house? Your stairs and hallway look to have two colors. Your house is always beautiful! Merry Christmas 🎄 to you and your family.

  5. Image for judith feyen judith feyen

    Oh how I agree with Jeanette about using good looking faux garland. I learned a $300 lesson when I tried to vacuum up sad, dried needles from every where. The poor vacuum gave it a good try but the needles won.

  6. Image for Lisa Lisa

    I stopped fighting with the real garland on the staircase a few years ago. It was a nightmare to put up and it sheds like crazy. So fake on the stairs, real on the mantel and fake outside because it's easier and doesn't fall off.

  7. Image for Robbin Robbin

    Oh girl that newel post . . . that banister . . . . WOW! Simply gorgeous!!! I've never done real garland and I haven't had a real tree in decades. They are gorgeous . . . . for a short time . . . . but the mess is YUCK!! Keep spritzing and spraying and know that your guests will appreciate how wonderful it looks and smells!! Merry Christmas!!!!

  8. Image for JC at the uncommon pearl JC at the uncommon pearl

    Yup, the dread of using real greenery. We have all been there at some point! I switched to faux this year and can light a pine candle! A party in two days....maybe leave it there and add some fresh real boughs in with it? Then you can take it down after the party.

  9. Image for Pam Pam

    I too have bits of pine falling all over the place! Next year I will lower my standards and go with faux lol! A lot less clean-up and no getting poked in the foot!

  10. Image for Connie Connie

    I think all of us have been through this at least once in our life time. Another lesson learned! LOL At last some of the companies are making garland more realistic than the stuff I was brought up with during my lifetime.

  11. Image for DeMarie DeMarie

    The best laid plans.....Oh, my, how I can relate. Always insisted on real greenery for the smell and feel...until I lived in Tucson. Truly a nightmare taking it all down. I wound up using leather rose pruning gloves. The tree was tinder, and I thanked God that it didn’t go up in a bonfire of glory. Now I use the Thymes Douglas Fir spray and burn their candles which give off a wonderful woodsy aroma. I suspect many of us decorate earlier in the season and all that furnace heat is just too much for the boughs. You could always put the needles in a bowl and have your guests guess how many needles fell off that day for a wonderful door prize!😱🤣

  12. Image for AmyG AmyG

    I stopped with the real trees and garland when we found out our son had terrible allergies (like the kind that require weekly shots for a while) but you are right - I love the smell, color and texture of the real stuff - but I sure don't miss the mess when it starts slowly shedding everywhere.

  13. Image for Teresa Teresa

    Oh how I can relate to this story! Love the plan of giving pieces away as party favors!!!! Thanks for the laugh!!!!!!!!!!!!’nnnn

  14. Image for Nan, Odessa,, DE Nan, Odessa,, DE

    Where do we go to get a printed wall hanging like you have at the bottom of the stairs? Details, please. Happy holidays to you and yours!

  15. Image for Lynn W Lynn W

    Fresh greenery is so nice but.....it’s such a mess in the end. Nowadays, I get cuttings and put them in a large crock or vase and enjoy them for a couple weeks. Dump them as soon as they look sad and go get fresh ones!! Your stairs look lovely!

  16. Image for Dana Dana

    Just a tip from my family nursery, spray any greenery that has been cut with mixture of half water half Prolong (or similar product that you would put in your Christmas tree stand). Better yet, if you have a sink or big enough container pour the mixture in the container and give the greenery a good dunk or two! This will help to keep needles on branches a lIttle longer! Just be sure to let it dry out before you start handling it or bringing inside. Your home is so incredibly lovely! Merry Christmas!

  17. Image for Leslie from Fairview Leslie from Fairview

    The Garland et al still looks beautiful in the pictures. The simplicity of white ribbons and doves is just lovely. And I love your solution to turn dry greenery into party favors! The only way to overcome disappointments. Also noticed the needlepoint. Great place for it unless/until it speaks to you.

  18. Image for Gina Gina

    Oh, do you have patience with real garland! I got tired of watering my urns of poinsettia and replaced them with faux years ago. This year, I did my garden beds in red and white flowers and cheerfully placed faux poinsettia in the center. My new neighbors must approve because several have put poinsettias out....but I don't think they are on to my trick! They will learn! :) Merry Christmas and have a wonderful party!

  19. Image for Chris Wells Chris Wells

    This reminds me of the year that I took down the real Christmas tree after the holidays and when I pulled it through the door and out onto the porch, I had nothing but a skeleton of a tree and every needle was laying on the other side of the door!! LOL

  20. Image for Tara @ Stilettos and Shiplap Tara @ Stilettos and Shiplap

    The very reason I use faux in spite of being in love with the real thing. Faux and a pine smelling candle is just not the same but 5 kids later I've come to terms with it. :-) Anyways it honestly still looks good in the pictures. Fingers crossed it makes it to Friday!

  21. Image for Patricia Patricia

    Almost as bad as my fresh Christmas tree that hatched spiders. Little crawling black dots. That was my last live tree.

  22. Image for Jan Jan

    This was really funny and I can so relate. But, is it just me or can someone explain the phrase, "jolly stumps of pipes" and its Christmas meaning? Puzzled.

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Jan, LOL! It came from 'Twas the Night Before Christmas'. Here are the lines: The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath. Merry Christmas friend! karianne

  23. Image for Erin R Erin R

    i just busted out giggling. Maybe go with the faux annd get those scented sticks you can put in there. I am in love with the doves you attached, may I ask where you got those from. My heart just leaped a little when I saw them.

  24. Image for Kathy A Kathy A

    Erin's comment of faux and Scensicles was my advice. I remember impaling my bare foot on a pine needle stuck in the carpet one JULY (so much for MY housekeeping). I switched to a fake tree the year after I swore at my daughter for not being able to hold the live tree still while I attempted to saw the bottom off; that's NOT what I wanted Christmas to be about! WHEN I am organized, I can put the tree up after Thanksgiving and leave it up til mid-January if I want and not be a fire hazard! Your home is absolutely beautiful. Merry Christmas!

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