Just like custom dresses and corsages, homecoming mums and garters can put those steep college application fees to shame. This popular Texas custom eclipses corsages and boutonnieres and is a big part of getting ready for the annual dance. They resemble huge corsages, surrounded by lots of ribbons, bells and trinkets that bring a teen's story to life.
But one quick way to offset those homecoming dance costs is to make your own homecoming mum. So, grab a shopping cart and get ready to raid the craft aisles.
How to Make a Homecoming Mum or Garter Yourself
Unlike a corsage or boutonniere, homecoming mums and garters are made for teens to wear on the day of the big homecoming game. Girls typically attach them to a couple layers of clothing or around their neck, and guys wear their garters on their bicep. No matter your gender identity or romantic status, though, you can make whatever kind of garter or mum you want, and position it anywhere you want!
Just as no two teens are alike, neither are any two mums or garters, but we can give you a basic structure to help you get started crafting the perfect arrangement.
Materials You'll Need:
To make a beautiful garter/mum that you or your loved ones will want to keep forever, you're going to need:
- Hot glue gun
- 3-1/4 yards (or more, depending on desired mum or garter size) of both 1-1/2-inch-wide and 1-inch-wide ribbon in school colors for the loops in steps 2 and 8
- 1-1/3 yard (or more) of 1-1/2-inch-wide ribbon in a school color for the points in step 3
- Fake ball mum, white or school color (generally the mum will be 4 to 6-1/2 inches, depending on the size of mum or garter you want)
- Pipe cleaner
- Bead (the hole of the bead has to be large enough to thread onto a pipe cleaner)
- One-half yard from two-inch-wide, metallic honeycomb ribbon (also known as punchinello ribbon)
- 1-1/2-inch letter stickers
- Approximately 10 yards of assorted ribbon in school colors for the base ribbon streamers
- Approximately 10 yards in school colors and coordinating metallics for assorted trims
- Three to four bells (one-inch cone bells were used in the example)
- Elastic garter
- Trinkets and other decorations
There are no hard and fast rules for making a homecoming mum. But, these instructions will help you build a basic, beautiful mum that you can customize with even more decoration later on.
Step 1: Make the Backers
The size you need will depend on how large your mum will be. For a garter, the minimum would be approximately 4-inch diameter circles, but for mums you may want a larger size. (Pre-made mum backers are generally five to eight inches in diameter.) Cut four circles from cardstock or lightweight cardboard in your desired size. Recycled gift or cereal boxes are a good alternative that you might have laying around.
The measurements above for the points and loops are based on a backer with a 4-inch diameter circle, so you will want to increase the amount of ribbon if you go with a larger size mum or garter. Mums and Kisses supply store suggests three yards of ribbon each for points and loops for a 6 to 7-1/2 inch diameter mum backing.
Step 2: Make the Loops
You can't leave the backer all by its lonesome. Take some time to snip and fold out the outer ribbon loops.
- Cut eight or more 6-inch lengths from both the 1-1/2-inch-wide and 1-inch-wide ribbon in your school's colors.
- Center one thin ribbon on top of one wide ribbon. Fold the ribbon combo in half with the thinner ribbon facing outward, making sure not to crease the fold.
- Staple the ends together.
- Repeat with the remaining ribbon to create eight loops.
Step 3: Make the Points
To fill in the gaps between the ribbon loops, you need to make some ribbon points.
- Cut eight or more 6-inch lengths from 1-1/2-inch-wide ribbon in your school's colors.
- Hold the length of one ribbon horizontal with the back facing you.
- Bring the ends together, rotating and crossing the ends with the right sides facing you to form a point.
- Staple the crossed ends together.
- Repeat with the remaining ribbon to create eight points.
Step 4: Finish the Top Backer
Evenly space the ribbon loops around the edge of one backer circle and staple them secure. Now, all you need to do is staple the points in between the loop spaces, and you've finished your top backer.
Step 5: Prepare the Flower
Homecoming garters and mums started out as flower arrangements, so you can't make a proper garter or mum without a flower.
- Remove the stem from your faux ball mum. This can usually be accomplished by simply pulling the stem out of the bottom of the flower.
- Thread a bead onto the end of a chenille pipe cleaner. Bend one-inch of the pipe cleaner over the bead and twist it around the longer length.
- Insert the pipe cleaner through the center hole of the flower, from the front to the back. Pull until the bead is securely embedded inside the petals of the flower.
- The bead will keep the pipe cleaner from coming loose and prevent the petals of the flower from coming apart.
Step 6: Attach the Flower to the Backer
Once you've got your flower prepped, you can attach it to the backer you already made.
- Pierce a small hole through the center of the top backer using the tip of scissors, a pencil, or a wooden skewer.
- Apply hot glue to the front of the backer.
- Insert the stem of the pipe cleaner through the hole on the front of the backer and pull until the mum is sitting in the glue. Allow the glue to cool.
Step 7: Attach Your Waterfall of Ribbons
Homecoming garters and mums aren't just wide, they're also long. And they get all that length from the ribbons you're going to attach to the backer.
- Cut 18- to 24-inch lengths from assorted ribbon in your school's colors. Approximately 15 ribbons will make a nice, full base, but you can attach as many as you like.
- Arrange as desired and staple one end of each along a five-inch length on the edge of a second backer.
Height matters when making a mum! You need to measure the person you are making the mum for to ensure that the ribbons are just the right length. A simple way to do this is to have the person who will wear the mum hold their backer where they want to wear it and have another person measure the length between the bottom of the backer and their lower calf.
Step 8: Make a Homecoming Loop Streamer
A homecoming loop streamer is a looped ribbon streamer that'll hang in the ribbon waterfall and show onlookers what the garter/mum is for. This is another area you can customize with unique colors and phrases or words.
- Make 11 loops in the same way as in step 2.
- Cut an 18-inch length from 2-inch-wide metallic honeycomb ribbon that coordinates with your school's colors.
- Starting at the bottom of the metallic streamer, place a loop on top of the streamer with the stapled end turned toward the top.
- Position the stapled end of the loop one inch above the bottom of the streamer. Staple to attach.
- Overlap the top of the next loop 1 1/2 inches above the first loop.
- Staple the loop to the streamer.
- Repeat with the remaining loops.
- Starting from the second loop down from the top, attach an "H" sticker. Continue down the length of the streamer to spell out the word "HOMECOMING."
You don't only have to use loose craft ribbon for your streamers. Experiment with different braids, like this pretty braid tutorial from Skip To My Lou.
Step 9: Add Even More Embellishments
Just when you think you've decorated enough, it's time to add even more.
- Place the homecoming loop streamer in the center of the ribbon streamers. Staple the top of the streamer to the backer.
- Cut an assortment of trims in your school's colors and coordinating metallics. These can be as short as you want, but should be no longer than your longest base ribbon. Curling ribbon, wire garland, Christmas tree garland, and feather boas are just a few suggestions.
- Randomly tie bells to the ends of ribbon. Three or four bells are nice, but for a really big festive sound, you could always add more. Some Texans even add small cowbells for an added musical effect.
- If desired, add your name, school mascot, grade, or year on ribbons with letter stickers. If you are going to the dance with your significant other, also add in ribbons with both of your names. Hot glue trinkets to the ribbons.
Step 10: Attach the Backers to Each Other
To finish off the garter/mum itself, you need to attach one of the four backers you cut out in the beginning to the flower backer.
- Pierce a small hole through the center of the second backer using the tip of scissors, a pencil or a wooden skewer.
- Apply hot glue to the back of the top backer.
- Insert the pipe cleaner stem through the second backer from the front to the back. Pull the stem through and press the backers together. Allow the glue to cool. If you need to, you can secure with additional staples.
- Cut the end of the pipe cleaner to approximately two inches. Bend over and hot glue to the back of the second backer.
Step 11: Attach the Garter (If You're Wearing It on Your Arm or Leg)
It's time to make sure that garter's secured nice and tight by layering on those other backer pieces.
- Lay the mum face down on your work surface.
- Apply a horizontal line of hot glue across the center of the backer.
- Place your garter over the glue. Allow the glue to cool.
- Apply hot glue all over the back of the backer. Slip the third backer through the garter and attach to the second backer. Half of the garter will be sandwiched between the backers. Allow the glue to dry. For more stability, add additional staples around the edge of the backer through all layers.
- Hot glue an additional backer to the back of the last one to cover up the staples for a cleaner appearance.
Or Set It Up as a Hanging Mum
If you're wearing your mum around your neck, it's simple to get it ready:
- Drape a soft ribbon around your neck and allow the ends to fall over your chest. Add four inches to the length to accommodate the ends that'll be sandwiched between the backers. Keep in mind the ribbon will need to fit over your head.
- Before adding your loops or points, space the ribbon ends approximately two inches apart on the back of the top backer and the rest of the ribbon extending above the top. Hot glue and staple the ribbon ends to the backer.
Depending on the size of your mum, you can also pin it to your outfit using large safety pins.
Step 12: Add the Final Touches!
The last part before handing off your garter/mum to the awaiting teens in your life or getting it ready for game day is adding the final touches. For many years, people put a teddy bear or stuffed animal in the center of the flowers, but you can get really creative with what themes or trinkets you want to include to make yours special.
Tips and Tricks for DIY'ing Homecoming Mums
Many parents, loved ones, and romantic partners will hunt for special items to put in their mums and garters all year long. Unique items and ideas seem to be everywhere, but if you wait until the last minute, all the great ideas might've been taken and the craft aisles completely obliterated.
Here are a few tips and tricks for cultivating the perfect DIY homecoming garter and mum:
- There are so many trim options to use as embellishments. Novelty printed ribbons with a football theme are available year round at craft stores and during the football season at discount stores that sell craft supplies.
- Curling ribbon is one way to add volume. And it's inexpensive, too.
- Tulle ribbon helps to blend the streamers together. You can get it in a variety of widths and colors.
- Check jewelry or craft stores for chains. You can use chains to tie small trinkets to so they'll stay put on your mum/garter.
- Don't forget about party supply stores. Party supply stores offer colorful selections of feather boas and small novelty trinkets.
- You can even use holiday decorations. Christmas ornaments, tinsel tree garland and battery-operated twinkle lights add a lot of glamour and flare.
- Keep things personal with charm frames. Small charm frames hanging from key chains and pins are a great way to insert personal photos into the mum.
- Don't overlook unusual shopping venues. One-of-a-kind embellishments can be found for ultra cheap at yard sales and thrift stores.
- Consider expanding on your mums throughout your four-years. Many schools have adopted traditions with progressive mums where one mum is added each year, ending with four flowers in the senior year. To accommodate more flowers, either staple several backers together to enlarge the base, or cut one larger one for each layer.
- The same homecoming mum can be used each year. Attaching more embellishments will transform it into a hanging scrapbook of the wearer's high school years.
- Don't skip over the pencil and pen aisles, either. Glitter pens and letter stickers in assorted sizes can be used to add names, years, grades and sentiments to the ribbon streamers.
- Adding small stuffed animals is a Texas tradition. Wire or glue them to the flower or the streamers.
- Bigger isn't always better. Mum wrist corsages and mum rings, known as ringers, are mini versions of a homecoming mum. These can easily be made using elastic instead of a garter.
Homecoming Mum Supplies
You can pick up mum and garter supplies practically anywhere, but there are some specialty stores in Texas where you can grab everything you need in one trip:
Everything's Bigger in Texas
Step aside, corsages and boutonnieres, homecoming garters and mums are coming through. These bold commemorative decorations just prove that everything's bigger in Texas. But mum doesn't have to be the word about these fun accessories. Crowdsource ideas with your friends and family and pile on anything and everything you can think of. At the end of the day, there's no wrong way to make a homecoming garter or mum. All that matters is that you love it.