How to Measure for Wreaths and Garland

  • How to Decorate Team
How to Measure Wreaths and Garland

How to measure for garland

A little holiday greenery goes a long way in turning a plain space into a holiday wonderland. So here are a few tips to help you select just the right size Christmas Wreath and Christmas Garland for your home.

How to measure for wreaths

Christmas Wreaths

The size of wreath needed for your front entrance really depends on the look you want. For a bold and festive feel, go large! If you prefer a more reserved look, choose a smaller size.

For a standard 36 inch wide front door, add dramatic impact with a wreath 28 inches to 30 inches in diameter. On the other hand, a wreath 20 inches to 24 inches in diameter creates a classic, understated look.

For oversized doors, we recommend a 30 inch to 36 inch diameter wreath. This large size will carry the appropriate scale in relation to the front door.

Typically, the larger the wreath, the higher you should hang it on the door. Since large wreaths usually weigh more than small wreaths, be sure to use a sturdy metal hanger or a securely fastened nail rather than plastic hanging fixtures.

What to do with miniature wreaths? Use your imagination! Decorate door knobs, candleholders, bureau knobs, and other place you happen to notice needs a little sprucing up for the holidays.

If you don’t wish to put a nail in your door, there are alternatives – try an over the door hanger or the 3M Adhesive Hangers all of which are available at your local home improvement store or local craft store. It is a great way to hang a wreath without damaging the door.

How to measure for garland

Christmas Garland

Measure Holiday Greenery

Measuring an arched door for garland.

The trick is to make sure you have enough garland to accommodate the top arch. We have a simple solution for this.

  • HEIGHT – Measure from the ground to the top of the door, then double the number to account for both sides. Example: 10-ft. H door x 2 = 20 feet
  • WIDTH – Measure from the outside trim of the door across to the other side, then calculate one-and-a-half times the width to cover the arch. Example: 10-ft. W door x 1.5 = 15 feet
  • TOTAL – Add the HEIGHT measurement and the WIDTH measurement for the total amount of garland needed. Example: 20 feet (HEIGHT) + 15 feet (WIDTH) = 35 feet of garland

Add one foot to your total if you’d like the garland to puddle at the bottom.

Measuring a standard door or double doors for garland.

Simple math is all that’s required to be sure you have enough garland for your fron entrance. This solutions works for double doors as well. Just be sure to measure the width across both doors, including trim.

  • HEIGHT – Measure from the ground to the top of the door, then double the number to account for both sides. Example: 10-ft. H door x 2 = 20 feet
  • WIDTH – Measure from the outside trim of the door across to the other side. In our example, the door is 4 feet wide.
  • TOTAL – Add the HEIGHT measurement and the WIDTH measurement for the total amount of garland needed. Example: 20 feet (HEIGHT) + 4 feet (WIDTH) = 24 feet of garland

Add one foot to your total if you’d like the garland to puddle at the bottom.

Staircase Decorated with Garland

Measuring a staircase banister or mantel to swag garland.

To swag garland down a staircase banister or across the mantel, use the same strategy as above. Measure the LENGTH of the banister or the WIDTH of the mantel, then calculate one-and-a-half times that dimension. Example: 6-ft. W mantel x 1.5 = 9 feet of garland.  Many of you want to know whether garland should drape over the sides of the mantel or not?  Well, there are no hard-fast rules when it comes to hanging garland.  It is up to you.  Whatever you want to do – go for it!  Hang garland the way you like it.

Measuring a staircase banister or mantle to swag garland.

To swag garland down a staircase banister or across the mantel, use the same strategy as above. Measure the LENGTH of the banister or the WIDTH of the mantel, then calculate one-and-a-half times that dimension. Example: 6-ft. W mantel x 1.5 = 9 feet of garland

Measuring a staircase banister to wrap garland.

Measure the LENGTH of the staircase and the HEIGHT of the newel post from the handrail to the floor. Simply add the 2 dimensions and double that number. Example: 10-ft. L staircase + 3-ft. H newel post = 13 feet x 2 = 26 feet of garland

If all of this seems too complicated, use a ball of string, wrapping it as you would the garland. When you have the look you want, pull the string off and measure it with a tape measure. It can be that simple!

Browse more holiday decorating ideas on our Ballard Designs Pinterest Boards.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Ballard Designs

    December 15, 2010

    Dear Reba: There are no hard fast rules to hanging garland, but if we take a tip from nature – the needles are usually pointed down. So our thoughts are to follow nature and have the needles pointing down.
    The Style Studio Team

  2. reba

    December 14, 2010

    When hanging garland on a banister, should the ends (end of the evergreen needles) be pointing up the stairs or down?

  3. Ballard Designs

    December 3, 2010

    Dear Christine: You have to give your husband credit for getting out there and hanging the garland, but we do agree that you are better to add the additional garland to complete the look. Instead of taking down what is there, maybe you could cut the new garland and add it to each end. You can purchase floral wire at your local craft store and it is strong enough to connect each end. We hope this suggestion helps with your dilemma. Have a wonderful Holiday Season!
    The Style Studio Team

  4. Christine

    December 2, 2010

    Is it tacky to have garland around half the front door only? Ours is 9ft and hubby went out and stapled it to the outside of the door, but it only hangs to barely halfway on either side started from the top. I can go buy another 9ft length, remove his and do it properly which was my intention, but he went out and put it up tonight. I am just wondering if I should leave it or fix it asap?
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!


  5. Ballard Designs

    December 1, 2010

    Michelle: There are lighted wreaths on the market that work with a battery pack, so there is no cord to deal with. However, most lighted wreaths have a cord. We think the best way to work with the cord is to use an over-the-door wreath hanger and run the cord under the hanger and down the back of the door, using an extension cord plug the wreath into an interior outlet.
    The Style Studio Team

  6. Michelle

    November 29, 2010

    Would like a lighted wreath on the front door but where would it plug in?

  7. Ballard Designs

    November 23, 2010

    Jennifer: One solution is to use fishing line tied around the door above the braid (possibly, you could secure the line by stapling flat inside the door jamb). Now attach another piece of fishing line so that it hangs down the middle of the door. Secure your wreath to the fishing line.
    Another solution is to use over the door towel hangers (which are much shorter than a wreath hanger) and tie fishing line to it and secure your wreaths to the line.
    We hope these ideas help you with your dilemma.
    The Style Studio Team

  8. Jennifer

    November 23, 2010

    I am trying to hang up two wreaths on my front double doors, but the over the door hangers I have won’t allow me to shut the doors, and furthermore don’t sit flat against the door because I have a decorative braid around the door. What is the best solution, as I can’t put nails in the doors because they are new solid mahogany doors. Any suggestions would be great! Thank you!


    November 17, 2010

    Linda: Have you tried an over-the-door wreath hanger? They work great and never leave a mark on the door. They are usually available in most craft stores or anywhere Christmas Decorations are sold.
    The Style Studio Team

  10. Linda M.

    November 16, 2010

    I am interested in the answer to Teresa’s question. I have the same problem. To make matters worse, we had a new front door put in 3 years ago. I thought it was steel like our old one but I believe it is fiberglass. When I went to put my magnetic hanger on the door for my wreather, the hanger fell off. My husband then told me that fiberglass is not magnetic. We were able to fix a spot on the front brick and use a spotlight but I would really like to try garland around my front door.


    November 16, 2010

    Dear Teresa: We have researched your dilemma and found “Brick Hangers” online in the Improvement Catalog.
    Just go to the website and type in Brick Hangers 196517 and you should go directly to them. Although we do not know anyone who has used them, they appear to be just what you are looking for. There is no drilling or nails involved. We do hope that this helps you solve your problem with hanging garland on brick. Good luck, and let us know if this works out. We are sure others have similar issues with hanging items on brick.
    The Style Studio Team

  12. teresa

    November 14, 2010

    I want to hang garland around my front door but my front door has brick all the way around it. I tried 3m hooks but they won’t stick to the brick and my husband won’t let me put nails between the brick, is there another way to hang the garland around my front door? I have went to home depot and lowes and no one can help me.

  13. jwood

    December 2, 2009

    Dear Valerie: We think the best way to measure for garland on columns is to use string. Tape it at the top of the column and wind it around the column to get the fullness you want, then remove the string and measure it on a measuring tape to determine how much garland you will need. We know that this is a bit daunting to measure this way, but it will give you the most accurate yardage needed.
    The Style Studio Team

  14. Valerie

    December 1, 2009

    How do you measure garland for outdoor columns (plantation style home)??

  15. jwood

    December 1, 2009

    Shannon Lee: Have you checked your local home improvement stores or local hardware for exterior suction cups? They do have them, and hopefully they will work. There are also other gadgets out there for hanging exterior lights, etc. that may work for you.
    The Style Studio Team

  16. shannon lee gunderson

    November 28, 2009

    Attaching garland to the house???? (around front picture window) Any ideas…besides nails in the siding??? Have brand new windows…husband says NO to nails in trim????

  17. Nicole

    November 27, 2009

    I am wanting to swag garland around my rock mantle…the 3m hoos won’t stick- any other ideas? Thanks

    • jwood

      December 1, 2009

      Nicole: This is a tough one! The only solution we can come up with is using wieghted stocking hangers to loop the garland on. Hope this helps!
      The Style Studio Team

  18. bonnie

    November 22, 2009

    When hanging garland over the door outside, should we include the one sidelight that we have, or just hang the garland over the door itself.

    • jwood

      November 23, 2009

      Dear Bonnie: We think you should include the sidelight in hanging your garland. It is considered part of the door. You could hang the garland around the door itself and then outline the sidelight. A wreath on the front door and perhaps some hanging pine cones on ribbon over the sidelight will make a warm and welcoming front door.
      The Style Studio Team

  19. Raquel

    November 2, 2009

    I’m wanting to hang a wreath on every window on the front of my house but they have screens. Any ideas on how to accomplish this without taking the screen off? Thanks

    • jwood

      November 2, 2009

      Dear Raquel: The best solution is to use fishing line. Make a large loop through your wreath. Mount the loop above the window wither with a nail or a removable hook (3M sells them), making sure the wreath is centered in the middle of the window. This should solve your problem.
      The Style Studio Team

  20. Meg K

    October 29, 2009

    Consider using 3M hooks for hanging wreaths and securing garland – this allows you to mount it at any height. Just make sure you give the hook plenty of time to set up before hanging anything from it. Lowes and Home Depot carry the green color in their holiday section but if it will be visible they make very nice metal finishes that look good on front doors.

  21. jwood

    October 28, 2009

    For Meg K. There are no hard fast rules to hanging garland. You can either leave it hanging over the sides or stop it at the edge of the mantle. It is up to you. Take a look through some magazines and look at the Holiday mantles that appeal to you, how is the garland hung? Hope this information helps!

  22. Pamela

    October 27, 2009

    We have a taller door, too, so my husband made a wreath hangar out of a piece of metal that he bent to fit the door and at the end to hold the wreath. We got the metal from home depot and then we painted it with gold spray paint.

  23. Meg Kalmbach

    October 27, 2009

    Could use help with measuring a fireplace mantle. Although that seems like a no brainer, is the garland supposed to drape over the sides, or stop at each end?

  24. jane walker

    October 27, 2009

    For Mollie:

    Another way to hang a wreath is to think about hanging two! Purchase inexpensive, flocked ribbon in a wide width. Place two wreaths back-to-back, thread the ribbon through these, leaving enough so that the wreath hangs down on each side at least 24″ or to your liking and then tie a knot. Now, open them up and hang this over the top of the door. If you have a wood door, you can always secure the ribbon on the top of the door with tape or a wood staple that is pushed in flush enough that it won’t scratch the upper portion of the door jamb. Hide the knot behind one of the wreaths, and then afix two large bows. If you live in a warmer climate, you can use a preserved boxwood on the outside. Fresh wreaths will generally last a long time inside. If you have windows on the house that open from the top down, you can also use this technique to hang double wreaths there as well. Good luck. Old fashioned decor, using a lot of just a few elements, is really luxurious.

  25. Mollie

    October 13, 2009

    I have a taller door (8 feet) – do you have a suggestion for how to hang a wreath, without putting a nail in the door, so that the wreath hangs at a reasonable hight?

    • jwood

      October 14, 2009

      Mollie: Try a wreath hanger which mounts over the door, then use ribbon looped through the wreath to lower it to the height you want. Place your bow over the looped ribbon on the top of your wreath, you can also place another bow on the hook of the wreath hanger to finish the look. Hope this helps!

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