With its spicy fragrance and stellar form, star anise is perfect for holiday decor. Here are two garlands that are quick and easy enough to make at the last minute.
Photography by Justine Hand for Remodelista.
Above: Unlike cinnamon sticks, which can be overwhelmingly potent, star anise has a more subtle, spicy scent.
- 1/2 pound of Whole Star Anise (illicium verum). I ordered mine from Glenbrook Farms; $10.29 for 1 pound.
- 4 or 5 raw cotton bolls. Similar Cotton Branches are available at Save on Crafts; $5 for two stems.
- Several yards of silver thread (Garland 1) and ribbon (Garland 2)
- Glue, such as Elmer’s
- Wax paper
Above: Raw cotton bolls were left over from my Winter White Holiday Bough created earlier this season.
Garland 1: Star Anise and Cotton Bunting
Step 1: Take a small bit of cotton in hand and roll to form a slightly more uniform boll. (Note: You can also substitute white felt balls.) Using a needle, string your bolls along the silver thread, making sure to leave enough room for the star anise in between. Don’t worry too much about the spacing at this point because you will be able to move the cotton bolls up and down the thread.
Step 2: I experimented with trying to pierce and drill a hole through the anise, but it just fell apart, so in the end I went with glue.
Once you have your cotton bolls evenly spaced, place one star anise face down in between each boll. Lay the thread over the back near the top of one of the arms of the stars and add a drop of glue. Note: You don’t want to affix the star anise across the middle because the weight of the star will cause it to flip horizontally when hung. Allow to dry overnight.
The Finished Look
Above: Voila, your simple garland. I hung mine over a bare branch and some beeswax candles made by my friend Niho Kazuru.
Above: A celestial landscape: Up close the finished garland looks like a sky filled with stars and clouds.
Above: As the sun goes down, a string of LED Fairy Lights add a warm glow; $17.99 for 20 feet.
Above: A detail of the star anise and raw cotton.
Above: Not bad for about 10 minutes of work.
Garland 2: Star Anise Clusters
Step 1: On a piece of wax paper, arrange a pattern of contiguous stars in a slight arc. Once again, make sure that most of the weight falls at the bottom of your garland.
Step 2: Apply a liberal amount of glue along the length of the garland. Don’t worry if some glue seeps through to the wax paper.
Step 3: While the glue is still wet, lay a ribbon across the garland leaving at least six inches of bare ribbon on each end. I used Studio Carta Thin Metallic Tight Weave Cotton Ribbon in silver; $9 for five yards. Again apply a liberal amount of glue. Leave to dry overnight. The next morning, gently peel the garland off the wax paper.
The Finished Look
Above: Moon and stars on my mantel.
Above: A detail of the star-anise cluster garland.
Looking for other easy holiday DIYs? See:
- A Star Is Born: DIY Foraged Tree Topper
- A David Stark–Designed Table Setting Made from Pine Needles
- God’s Eye Ornaments with a Scandi Twist
- DIY Poinsettia: A Common Christmas Plant Goes Luxe