Friday, September 26, 2014

garden baby shower // natural branch backdrop

a few weekends ago, my friends ellen and stephanie asked me to help them style a baby shower they were hosting. the mama-to-be really enjoys the outdoors, so we decided it would be fun to let all the decor be inspired by nature. i was so thrilled with how it turned out!

below is a tutorial for how to create the natural branch backdrop behind our food and beverage table.

{you can also see the full gallery of professional pictures (i.e. not just my iphone attempts) that ellen snapped over on her beautiful blog. you'll see more of me rockin' my apron and my nerd glasses.}

because almost all of the decor for this shower was repurposed, found, or collected from our homes and gardens, the whole thing felt lush but was so inexpensive. stephanie and i wrote a joint post over at the entrusted blog about how we kept the whole thing under a budget of $75 (yeah, i know! $75!)- check it out!

{update: um, holy cow! this tutorial was featured on apartment therapy...huge thanks for the insane honor!}

one of my absolute favorite elements was the backdrop i made for the cake and drink table. i want to share a little bit more about how to make it, but i will warn you that, just as the backdrop itself is very free-flowing and organic, this turorial is not very precise. since you’re working with natural materials, you’ll have to be willing to let things shape up in their own direction. compound that with the fact that you'll be working with greenery that has to be fresh and picked at the last minute. in other words, you will most likely be sweaty and panicking on a ladder 60 short minutes before your guests arrive. but if you're still interested in trying...


large branch
twine & scissors
small leafy vines and branches
faux flower heads
hot glue gun & glue sticks
nails, cuphooks, or 3M hooks


first, measure your space for width. our space was 7’ wide.

next, find a branch to fit your dimensions, and that is thick enough to support some weight. my branch was 6’ long and the thickest part (at the base) was just smaller than the size of my wrist. you can go on a walk to forage or look around your yard (or ask neighbors) to see if any trees need pruning.

you will then need to make sure it is dry and bug-free. i left mine out on the deck in the sun for two days.

purchase your faux flowers. i chose large roses, peonies, cabbage roses, ranunculus and other full-headed blooms, but you can choose any styles or colors that suit your tastes. keep in mind how the colors and styles will look when they are placed close together and try to coordinate them.

on the day of your party, a few hours before it starts, go foraging again, this time for your greenery. it is hard to wait until the last minute to do this, but you will need leaves that are fresh. this style of decor doesn’t allow for practice or much perfecting time, which was hard for me! but it forces you to be flexible with the design and sometimes giving up control is a good thing. or so i told myself.

gather an overflowing laundry basket full of small branches with pretty leaves, vines or other green garden materials.

once all of your supplies are gathered, place 3-4 hooks at the top of your wall where you want to build your backdrop. if you’re using 3M hooks, you must allow some time, about half an hour, for them to adhere to the wall. (i skipped this step and had trouble with them popping off at first. trust me, that is not a good plan).

once your hooks are set, use twine to hang your large branch horitzontally on the wall.

tie several strands of twine to the branch and let them hang down from it. vary the lengths. these are just for an extra pretty touch but also give you something to glue vines and flowers to if needed. i liked how they looked like tendrils.

begin to secure your greenery to your branch by tying it on with twine, until you are happy with how full it looks. (i warned you- not a precise tutorial!) i probably used about 12 small vines and branches. try to balance the weight and have plenty that hang and drape. 

once you like the overall weight and shape of your branches, it is time to add your faux flowers. first, pop the blooms off the stems. (check to make sure they won’t fall apart- one style i bought disintegrated when i took it off the stem).

use hot glue to secure the blooms to your branches. the glue will adhere to sticks or leaves or the twine. group them or scatter them- whatever you like. i used faux because i didn’t want to risk real flowers wilting. if you want to use real flowers, you could use floral water tubes on short stems and hide the stems amongst your greenery.

{all photos (except the laundry basket) by ellen swalley // red sweater photography}

i'm sorry this is more a general guide than a specific tutorial. honestly on the day of i was just winging it, and was happy it turned out kind of close to what i planned. i think as long as you don’t expect perfection, but let the branches fall where they may, you can pull it off too. good luck! and do be sure to visit ellen's blog for the full gallery.

{update: after this party, a lightbulb really went off in my head about just how much we can collect and repurpose from what is already around us- without having to constantly buy more and more. in celebration of that, i'm partnering with my DIY blog tour girls, kyla from house of hipsters and grace of the big reveal, on a project called "Found & Foraged." if you have a DIY, great vintage find, pretty project, or something you've foraged from the garden, i'd love for you to share it with us. go here to find out how!} 


  1. Laura! Seriously, wow! I love, love, love everything about this. What an awesome idea and it looks gorgeous! You are such a talented lady.

  2. So gorgeous! and stealing the Faux flowers idea, so smart! xoxoxo!

  3. Sooo pretty! I absolutely LOVE this!

  4. That's a really relaxing setting. Good way to create a natural look indoors without a lot of hassle or waste. I think most people who like nature would appreciate a setting like this. It's also a good option for people who want to have a natural looking baby shower when it's raining or snowing.

  5. So lovely! Can I ask where you bought your flowers?

    1. Hi Chandra! All of these flowers are from Michaels. I actually think Hobby Lobby sells amazingly realistic faux flowers (just a few styles, they're in the very front of the flower section), but they can easily be $20 a stem for those. The Michaels ones I used here were more like $8 a stem and I collected them over time from different events. I can often be caught adding one or two faux blooms to my real arrangements. :)

  6. Where did you get the white sideboard the cake and drinks are on? I really love it.


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