How to Make a Garland of Coffee Filters for New Year's

December 29, 2015

Tiny votive candles flanked by flower arrangements can make for a very pretty table setting, we all agree. But the details (the candles! the flowers! the heft of the plates!) add up—not to mention when you're trying to make every inch look as dressed for dinner as your guests. Especially on New Year's Eve.

I was inspired to elevate the everyday centerpiece by this image and this image—the 8th one down: one line of greenery down the center of a table, one large bundle of dried hydrangea down another. My version? This DIY for a sweeping garland of cloud-like, connected coffee filters, which makes a real statement down the center of a long table. I’ve seen a few great tutorials out there for similar garland, but none that suggest gracing your table with one. Give it a try!

Fluffy, simple DIY-ed table decor. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Mix filter sizes and colors (gold would be pretty for New Year's, pink for a baby or bridal shower, and a coffee or tea stain for something rustic), and then snake it down the center of your table or just let it fall straight. A great use for a cheap pantry staple and a time-saver: Make the garland days or minutes before dinner, and now you’ve got time to properly prep the meal.

What you'll need:

  • Melitta Basket Coffee Filters (a 200-count pack will get you several sizable garlands)
  • Spray bottle
  • Coffee (for an antique look)
  • Metallic spray paint (if you want a sparkly garland)
  • Food coloring (for a colorful garland)
  • Needle and thread
Photo by Mark Weinberg

How to turn the filters into a garland:

1. Stain or spray paint them, if doing so.

  • If you're opting to stain some:
    Brew a batch of strong coffee and put it in a heavy pot with lots of water; slip the filters in and let them sit for about an hour. When they're stained and the coffee has cooled, wring the filters out and lay them flat to dry—of if you have the option swing by a laundromat and run them through a dryer before setting out flat. Now, skip to step 3.

  • If you're opting to spray paint some:
    Separate the filters and put them in a big paper grocery bag, take them outside, and spray them from a distance of 8 inches or so, shaking the bag in between sprays so the color hits haphazardly. The below filters were hit with a combination of silver, gold, and bronze spray paints.

Flattening the coffee filters is much more effective if you get them wet.

2. Flatten the filters.

Start with a large selection of dry, frilly filters (spray-painted or plain white), and spread them out in a single layer on a lined surface; I open up a few trash bags and simply lay them on the floor. Fill spray bottle with water, and spray filters for about a minute until most are fairly saturated. Flatten them with your palm.

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Alternatively, if you want to turn some a bright color, add some food coloring to the spray bottle at this stage.

This is the easy part. Photo by Mark Weinberg, Mark Weinberg

3. Thread them together and scrunch.

Once all of your filters are dry and flat, gather them in a stack. Using a needle and thread, connect the filters together by piercing the center of each one with the needle—one after another until desired length is achieved. If you want a less uniform look, alternate white, spray-painted, and coffee-stained filters in irregular amounts. Knot the thread at both ends to to finish, leaving plenty of space for the filters to expand when you fluff them.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I think it looks cool, and it is easily modified, and it is something simple to accomplish. I love Tom Ford, but I can more easily afford this. Cool your jets, Duane. ”
— Isabel

When you're ready to use it, crunch, fluff, and shape the filters with your hands. You want them to be different degrees of crumpled, flat, and partially-bunched up. This gives your garland some life!

Happy New Year's, am I right? Photo by Mark Weinberg

4. Lay out as a centerpiece—or hang it up.

Lay your garland down the center of the table (as in the first image), or tie some twine to either end and hang it on the wall in a single swag (as in the image above)—and, of course, invite over everyone you know to admire it.

What are you crafting for New Year's Eve? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Lisa
  • Isabel
  • Nothing in the House // Emily Hilliard
    Nothing in the House // Emily Hilliard
  • nancy essig
    nancy essig
  • Lin


Lisa December 28, 2017
Really ugly! Looks like it's destined for the worm bin.
Isabel December 27, 2017
I think it looks cool, and it is easily modified, and it is something simple to accomplish. I love Tom Ford, but I can more easily afford this. Cool your jets, Duane.
Nothing I. December 31, 2015
Why are the comments no longer visible here?
Nothing I. December 31, 2015
FYI it appears there is there is some glitch, creating a big gap between comments...
nancy E. December 31, 2015
Perhaps it all boils down to a bad photograph and the item is actually pretty in the flesh
Lin December 30, 2015
I find this very charming also. Sometimes simple is perfect.
Kenzi W. December 30, 2015
I'm so disappointed with the comments here—not only do we find this beautiful (I'm actually hanging one as I type, and our creative director mentioned she wanted one hung at her wedding), but better, we find it resourceful. We're always looking for ways to smartly repurpose ordinary objects, and we think this does that job very well. We totally understand that it's not everyone's cup of tea (or coffee)—but we appreciate open minds, and at the very least, politeness.
Nothing I. December 30, 2015
I don't see anything wrong with a little jovial critique in this community. I want Food52 to be a place where its members and readers can offer constructive criticism and playful jokes from time to time. I see the lack of peer critique and "taking itself too seriously" as big drawbacks in the food and lifestyle blogger community. Allowing an opportunity for dialogue and dissent-- serious or fun (albeit respectful), will make your content better in the long run.
nancy E. December 31, 2015
Well said Emily. I find that unless you are all sunhine and pretty words here, you get shamed
PMWalsh December 29, 2015
Interspersing squares of used toilet paper is another inexpensive alternative; the square shape adds flair and visual interest taking your garland to a new level of sophistication!
Nothing I. December 30, 2015
Nothing I. December 29, 2015
Has Food52 started a parody column? (If not, that would be pretty great...)
Martin W. December 29, 2015
Certainly, Nancy! But if you truly consider yourself an inhabitant of ancient Philistia, you'll have to forgive me if I don't hold your opinion in high regard.
nancy E. December 29, 2015
I never asked you to
nancy E. December 29, 2015
Call me a Philistine!
Martin W. December 29, 2015
Stunning and simple. Only a philistine could find this unattractive!