Our series “Celebration Inspiration” is all about bringing you top-notch advice and creative ideas to make the most of life’s special moments. In this article, floral design expert Julie Mulligan shares how to make your own DIY summer garland at your next family reunion.

I’m anticipating that the summer of 2021 is going to have a record-breaking number of family reunions. Many families will likely be gathering just to celebrate being together, cherishing the small, in-person moments that were not possible for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.​

Whether your family reunion includes relatives from near and far or friends who are like family, engaging in a fun activity together can make for some happy memories. This DIY rag garland can be used as personalized décor or a take-home gift that will make the day extra special.

DIY rag garland

Garlands are an easy and inexpensive way to add a festive atmosphere to your celebration. They can also be customized to fit any theme, which makes them great for holidays, baby showers, and birthday parties. For a summertime family reunion, I decided to go with an Americana theme, using red, white, and blue bandanas, and plain white cotton fabric. For your project, feel free to use any colors you and your family enjoy.


What you’ll need

  • Fabric
  • Yarn, ribbon, or twine
  • Scissors
  • Permanent marker with an ultra-fine point (for personalization)

How to make

Start by deciding the length and size you want for your garland, and cut your yarn or twine accordingly. Remember to leave enough yarn at either end for hanging.

Cutting the fabric strips

Girl and woman holding garland

Since you’ll be using bandanas for this project, you’ll need to cut them into strips. These strips should be 3 inches by 20 inches. Each bandana is a 20-inch square and will give you eight strips that are 2.5 inches by 20 inches.


To make it a easier to cut strips that are the same size, start by folding the bandana in half. Then, fold it in half again, and then in half one more time. Next, run a hot iron over the folded bandana.​


To make it a easier to cut strips that are the same size, start by folding the bandana in half. Then, fold it in half again, and then in half one more time. Next, run a hot iron over the folded bandana.​


You now have cutting guides! Don’t worry about being exact. That’s the beauty of a rag garland — anything goes! Remember to cut all your strips before assembling the garland.


How to attach fabric strips to yarn

Blue bandana strip

To attach the fabric strips to yarn, you’ll need to fold the fabric strip in half and place it under the yarn.

Tying blue bandana

Then, take the bottom of the fabric and bring it over the yarn and through the fold at the top of the strip.

Blue bandana

Next, pull the strip through to form a top knot.

Bandana knot

Tying the fabric on in this way keeps it more controlled and neater.

Bandana garland

You can see the difference between the top knot and a simple knot above. It all depends on the look you want and how much time you have to spend putting the garland together. The simple knot goes much faster.

Make it special with personalization

Bandana garland

Your family is one of a kind, so why not make your garland just as unique by personalizing some of the fabric strips?

If you’d like to move things along quicker, make the garland before the reunion using only red and blue bandanas, leaving space to add the white ones during the event.

Bandana strips and markers

At the reunion, set up a table with permanent markers (ultra-fine point is best) for coordinating colors and the white bandana strips. You can also include plain white cotton strips made from an old pillowcase, if you have a lot to say and need more writing space.

Bandana garland

Encourage attendees to personalize a strip with names and dates, a quote, a word — whatever they feel represents them and their family. To help, assign a family member to attach the personalized strips to the existing bandana garland throughout the day.

Banadana garland

Want to make it extra special? Save the garland for your next family reunion and continue to add new strips to it as the family grows and changes through the years. That way, it’s sure to become a cherished part of future family celebrations.

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Julie started her career in the floral industry over 30 years ago in a small, family-owned flower shop. From floral designer to author and lifestyle expert, her insight has been instrumental in developing the 1-800-Flowers.com brand. Representing the company’s floral lifestyle vision, Julie has shared her talent and passion in numerous television appearances and national magazine features. She is an active fundraiser and longtime friend of IGHL, a group dedicated to facilitating a more independent life for developmentally challenged adults.

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