Decking the stair railings

December 01, 2009


I’ve been raiding the Dollar Store like mad this year for Christmas decor, but otherwise, I’m trying really hard to watch how much new stuff I buy. Stop laughing at me, I’m totally serious. (About the trying hard part.)

So instead, if there is something I wasn’t nuts about in past years, I am trying to rework it with what I have (like our mantel) or at least be cheap about the redo. Today I worked on our staircase.

Let me preface this by saying I kick myself in the pants EVERY year at Christmas because one of the choices I made when we built our house. My husband wanted our staircase and loft wall to all be railings. I, on the other hand, was hyperventilating at the thought of spending more money and assured him the walls would be just fine.

Pushaw. I am SO annoyed with myself that we didn’t do the railings. Especially at Christmas – I adore staircases with beautiful garland weaved in an out of all of those gorg railings. Sigh.

But, just because I don’t have them doesn’t mean I can’t make ours look beautiful too! In years past, I’ve wrapped garland with lights around the hand rail:


I really did love it, but I had a little issue with the fact that it was hard to hold onto the railings with this on there. That always bothered me quite a bit. Especially with my tendency to fall down stairs. ;)

And, I’ll just admit it – I was lazy this year. The wrapping takes eons. So this year I tried to simplify it a bit by just hanging the garland at each end of the railing and swag it up in the middle.

Problem was, when I did that, all the sudden the garland was wimpy, wimpy, wimpy! Ugh, I cannot stand wimpy garland. Gives me hives. I took some simple greenery I bought at Michael's back in September uhhhh, just last week, (sure) and wrapped it around a couple times to add some fluff:



Quiz time! See the two garlands above? One is from the dollar store (15 feet), one is from Michael’s (18 feet). Can you tell the difference? The one on the right is from Michael's, but the difference is sooooo small, I say save the four bucks and go for the dollar stuff!

I had already added the plastic bulbs to the greenery years ago, so I just adjusted them so they peeked out again. To swag it in the middle, I used floral wire and covered it with a few pieces of greenery:



I had little swags I used to put on my doorknobs in the past, but in my effort to simplify a bit this year, I wasn’t going to use them. So I just added them to the ends of the garland, then added one of my dollar store reindeer ornaments for some glitter:

holiday stairway ideas

The ornaments were actually two for a buck, and I just love them. :)

The lights are plugged in at the top of the stairs – I just wrap the cord around at the landing, then plug them in with an extension cord at the top:



I KNOW. Cords. Blech. I’m taking care of that tomorrow, mark. my. words.

I’m really pleased with the final result:

decorating the stair railings for Christmas

A little simpler, a whole bunch more fluff and it was much easier to hang this year. Just because you don’t have a beautiful staircase with gorg railings doesn’t mean you can’t make it look festive and pretty. Same with mantels – use a shelf, a ledge or an armoire and treat it as your “mantel.”

I have a massive project coming up with this staircase. I am so excited I can barely stand it. I was soooo hoping to have it done before the holidays, but it’s going to be the biggest project I’ve ever done so I want to give it plenty of time. I cannot WAIT to get started!!

For now, I’m happy. I’ll leave you with my standard nighttime shot. ;)

garland on stair railing

Thank you all so much again.

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  1. GORGEOUS!!! As always! You are such a talented lady.

    And happy birthday to your hubby.

  2. GORGEOUS!!! As always! You are such a talented lady.

    And happy birthday to your hubby.

  3. I know the movie...what was the name???? Major League or something like that? There's no crying in baseball! Love it.

    The garland looks incredible, and I am on the edge of my seat wanting to know what you're gonna do with the staircase! It looks beautiful!

  4. Love that you added lights to the railing decor...I didn't think of that! I recall your cord post, so find it amusing to see an exposed one, but know it is probably perfectly disguised by now!

  5. I love the wall quote on your stairs....can you share where you got it???? Your reindeer garland looks faboo by the way! Deidre M

  6. I want to walk up those stairs in my comfy pjs with some hot cocoa and be your overnight guest. Just for the night :-) Then I can walk back down in the morning and feel like I just slept at the North Pole (warmly of course). So cozy!

  7. Seriously, I just want to live in your house. Talk about comfort zone...

  8. "A League of Their Own" Ha! I totally get you Sarah. LOL!
    Love that classic movie.

    The garland is just gorgeous in the swag design! I can't believe those are Dollar Tree ormnaments. It all looks so pretty and festive.

    Happy Birthday to your hubby! My prayers are still with you all.

    ~Blessings, ~Melissa :)

  9. Oh' you staircase looks beautiful. I just love how warm and inviting it looks at night. And I totally know what you mean about the dollar store. I couldn't believe it when I saw those wonderful reindeer in there. I jumped on it and bought the purple and pink ones and went right to another one to find more. I think that was the find of the year!

    Hugs...Tracy :)

  10. Very nice!

    Oh, A League of Their Own! (om Hanks, yay :)

  11. Great job on the others have said, your house looks so "cozy." I love simple...I was just at dollar store though and didn't see any! I'll have to go back to the others. I found these felt thingys and I love them so I bought a ton of them, but I don't know what to do with them..I had ideas at the time - and found a blog where she used the reindeer as garland...I'm just so overwhelmed, so I don't know what to do. Can you help?
    I've offered to send someone some if they can help!

  12. Beautiful!!! I love it!!! The reindeer are sweet, can't believe you got two for a dollar!

    Happy Bday to your husband!

  13. I wish for railings too but you created beautifully without them!!
    Love those reindeer!!
    Happy b day to your hubby too!

  14. "THere's no crying in baseball!!"
    hee hee, cute

    Love the pictures, they came out beautifully. That's some lovely decor you have going on- thanks for sharing! Don't you hate taking all this stuff down??It's so warm and wonderful~ My home always feels so blah after Christmas... Hopefully we'll leave it up a bit longer this Holiday season... ;)
    And Birthday wishes to your Hubs. Hoping he has the strength to find a little joy on his birhtday.

  15. JUST BEAUTIFUL... LOVE THE reindeer.. he looks so proud to be apart of your creativity! LOVE the childrens portraits too!

  16. Your staircase looks beautiful!
    You did an excellent job.
    I will be looking for the reindeer in the dollar store. Thanks so much
    for posting the pictures.


  17. ahhh man! i love love love it! too bad we dont have stairs :( bummer! beautiful house by the way :)

  18. Name that movie??
    Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own..."Are you crying?" "There's no crying in basebal."

    Love the stairs too!!

  19. I think your garland looks great ~ I had a cord issue this year because I went the wrong way with the garland. I usually end at the top of the stairs with an extension cord into the spare bedroom, but when I got there I couldn't find the plug end and realized what I had done. Yeah. It's staying that way. I'll have to figure something out for the cord hanging down from the middle of the garland to the outlet in the foyer!

  20. "The ornaments were actually two for a buck" - two bucks for a buck - get it?! [Just my early morning humor...]

    Your stairway is beautiful - all of your decorating is!

    And happy birthday to your hubby!

  21. Love the results... loverly!! Now can you come finish mine?!?!?!

  22. I love it swagged ! Your mantle is just adorable too.

  23. Your railing looks BEAUTIFUL!!!

    I love it. I need to paint my staircase, so maybe I can actually decorate it.


  24. Thinking of you and praying for your family.

    Beautiful staircase! I can't wait to get out of an apartment so I can HAVE stairs ;)

  25. Beautiful as always. You better make sure you hold tight to that railing. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mr. Thrifty :) Many Blessings your way.

  26. Dear Thrifty,
    Your staircase looks beautiful just like everything you do!
    That was a good idea to swag it for safety and time! Looks even better actually, course, they both look good, but I am for anything safe and time sparing! Sorry to hear you hurt yourself, but so glad your lil boy is fine. Hope you are getting around okay now.
    Sometimes a spranged ankle can take awhile to heal. Will pray for that too!
    Blessings, Nellie

  27. Ok, I will now have to decorate the steps that I complain about everyday of my life! Maybe I will like the steps more if the handrail is pretty..... I really, really love the swag(and the reindeer)you used to decorate your rail. Thanks for the ideas and for comparing the roping so the rest of us are convinced to save the money and go to the dollar store.

  28. Love it Sarah! I swag ours too...used to wrap...what a pain!! We have railings. Each section gets a swag with HUGE bows on either end and a little something special in the middle. Changed the bows this year and am working on the "somethin, somethin"! Can't wait to see what you do with the staircase AFTER the holidays.

  29. Your house is so beautiful! I love your blog and how you detail all the steps and where you buy things.

  30. Your house is gorgeous!! I would give anything to have just an ounce of your talent!

  31. Thanks for sharing all the festive photos! Can you come over to my house and wave your magic wand? I don't know if I have the energy to do it this year. I will give it a shot since my kiddos won't relent. I will say a prayer for your father-in-law. I appreciate your postive attitude.

  32. Your house is so beautiful...and I don't have any railings either :(, so I'm going to try your idea!!! Thanks so much for sharing!


  33. Lovely!! I am inspired to take your advice about not having a mantle- I was a little sad this season about NOT having one... anyways, I have a ledge under the windows in mantown and one in the living room where the staris are, I'm going to see what I can come up with for them...

  34. What an awesome idea!!! O.K., yet another idea I am taking away from your blog :) Thank you so much for doing this and giving us all the inspiration to move forward :) I do not have an open staircase either so haven't thought about decorating it. . .but now. . .maybe????
    Wanted to let you know that I tried the ball ornament wreath thing. It didn't turn out as fab as yours but for a first try, I'm pretty happy. I also did the greenery thing around my door but since we don't have WOOD to screw into my make-shift hooks are not standing up to the wind we have here so I'll have to try something else. Thanks for the "push" to do a little more this year!!!

  35. Wow, looks great. No, I could not tell the difference in the two wreaths. I am like you...go for the cheaper of the two...I love the Dollar Store for great buys like that.

  36. "There's no crying in baseball!" Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own.

    We ended up paying extra for the banister, but not at the very top of the landing, because I could just see my baby falling thru the railing and decided to do a half wall there. I am so sorry i did - EXCEPT that it hides the cord from my garland! LOL! Eventually, we'll add the railing all the way across.
    Looks great! And woo hoo for upcycling what you've already got. We're doing the same and it's been interesting. I even bought new garland, then felt guilty because i had scads of other greenery so I took. it. back. WWWAAAHHHH! Here is my staircase now:

  37. looks great! i am having troubles on my staircase right now too. and its sort of a focal point when you first walk in my front door. so i want it to look fantabulous like yours... must visit hobby lobby!

  38. Ooh...ahhh...lovely! I love garlands on staircases too. I think I've officially decided I'm too lazy to do it this year, though....and I need to wait and buy more garlands during the after Christmas sales. Next year...oh out for that staircase next year.

  39. I love it! Looks great as usual! :) You are so inspiring and so creative and talented! Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!

  40. Love it! I raided our Big Lots here, inspired by your mantle, but ours isn't nearly as cheap as yours! That's our area I know. Dollar Store is next.

    I bet you've mentioned this before - but where did you get the vinyl lettering on your stair wall? Was it ready made or custom? I love the font, haven't seen one like it. Thanks!

    and Happy b-day to Mr. Thrify!

  41. I love railings that are decorated for the holidays. We just built our house (moved 800 miles from home)and I paid extra to have a pretty railing. You see the railing when you come in the house and the whole railing when you sitting in the great room. I won't be decorating this year as we just moved in 3 weeks ago. My mind and body can't take it. But go to my blog and go back a few post and look at the railing. I am so happy with the way it turned out.

  42. Love what you have done! Also love the way you have pictures arranged above the railing! Absolutely fabulous!

  43. I LOVE A League of Their Own! Also, your halway looks so swank! Happy birthday to your hubby too!

  44. pk @ Room Remix

    It looks so pretty, especially with the lights! Love the reindeer ornament too. Happy birthday to hubby :-)

  45. Lurve it! Thinking about you and your family!!!!! And can I just tell you that your blog is my FAVORITE! You have inspired me to do so much around my home and helped me realize that I can do it without spending a ton! Thank you from me and my husband ;)
    Happy Birthday to your hubby! Today is my birthday to!!!!!

  46. BEAUTIFUL!! Thanks so much for the idea. I, too, have a handrail, and never knew how to make it work. Sure wish I wasn't at work right now. I'm so inspired!! Love the reindeer, too!!

  47. LOVE this! I may have to steal this idea for our handrails. Can't wait to hear what your big project is!

  48. I have been to the Dollar Store a tone lately. They have some really cute, obviously cheap stuff. Who doesn't love cheap?! Your stairs look great!! Happy Holidays.

    PS. We are having a HUGE give-away over at our blog for the next 7 days...There is a give-away inspired by your wall paper art with a twist...would you ever check it out and let me know what you think?? I would LOVE that!!!

  49. I like your Christmas pictures. I've been busy doing the same. Maybe you'd like to check some out at:

    I'm busy doing the inside now, more pictures to come.

  50. Beautiful, as usual!

    Quote is from A League of Their Own - "There's no crying in baseball!"

  51. Very lovely staircase decorations.
    And, you did it all on low budget and it looks like a designer did it!

  52. So pretty ~ loving the lights and your swags. I tend to wind but it does make it hard to hold onto ~ I may try something new this year....hmmm

  53. Oddly enough, right before I read your post I had spent an hour trying to arrange my garland on my staircase. You way is a 1,000 - million times easier!!! I'm going to tackle it tomorrow, but thanks for sharing the much more simple way of 'light.' :)


  54. Hey, Sarah, looks beautiful! I'm all about garland today too. I had to beef mine up too, no skimpy garland for me either.

    So sorry about your FIL, my prayers will be with your family too. Hugs!

  55. You are one very talented lady..My prayers and thoughts will be with you and your family.....Pat H

  56. Ahhh it's beautiful! I think I *need* to do something with my railing now. Happy Birthday to your husband!

  57. Hi,

    Some funny thougths are running through my mind, such as: how many times peole fell down the stairs after being blinded by the lights, or that you placed those lights there so that people don't put dirty hands on the rail :-)

    Wish you a Merry Christmas,


    P.S. as I'm writing this, I'm looking at an image of a tree (is that in your place?) and it looks awesome.

  58. Sarah - I'm just now catching up on my blogs. I'm so sorry to hear about your father in law. I can only imagine what your family is going through but I'm so glad to hear you seeing the positive in it all. Ya'll will certainly be in my thoughts and prayers during this time.

    On a happier note, I love what you did with your stairs and the garland. I'm digging my stuff out this weekend and can't wait! I look forward to seeing what other original ideas you share with us!

  59. Your railing looks beautiful, you always do just a great job!!

    PS will be praying everyday for you and your family.

  60. It's beautiful. I admire everybody that has started decorating. I have NOT done a thing yet. I use to start Christmas decorating during Thanksgiving week, but not this year. Nothing, I mean, nothing! You have inspired me! Thanks!!

  61. It looks beautiful and I have those same cute reindeer on my mantle right now! Happy B-day to your man and know that you father-in-law is in my prayers. My own dad was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma cancer---a 6mth at most life expectancy post-diagnosis---and that was 2 yrs ago. He's amazed all of his doctors and is a walking miracle. He still has cancer; he still could pass at any moment from all the tumors, but his life this past 2 yrs has been full and good and a huge gift. I pray the same for your family!

  62. Your stairs look gorgeous!!! And that reindeer at the top is such a wonderful little detail!

  63. I love it and I love you! You make my day with your fab ideas and enthusiasm! Happy B-day to the Hub. Can't wait to see more!

  64. Fabulous job! It amazes me how we seemed to be the same when we built our houses, choosing wood, not doing the railing...I only thought of my little one sticking his head through and getting hurt, never pictured him growing up and how much I would want a railing!!!
    It looks wonderful! Thank you for sharing! :)

  65. Never thought I could decorate my stair railing. Of course, it wouldn't look like this. I only have 6 or 7 steps. This looks amazing! I especially love the glittery reindeer.

  66. I love your decorations, everything you do is so beautiful in the end! I ran out to our nearest Dollar Store to look for those garlands and found I'll try to make mines presentable like yours..Thank you so much for sharing..your blog is all that and much more!!

  67. Hey, after Christmas check out Dollar General or any "dollar stores"...they have great discounted sales.....sometimes 50-90% off !!!! I always shop then for decor for next year.


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