D.I.Y. Holiday Wreath

 

Gail’s wreath on Blithewold’s front doorIt’s easy to buy a wreath. Get a basic balsam wreath, throw a ribbon on it and you’re golden, right? But are you proud? If you make your own wreath instead, I guarantee you will glow with I-made-that! satisfaction every time you open your front door. And it’s such the perfect thing for any of us gardeners who might have early onset cabin fever and need all the green-stuff creative outlets we can get.

 

Step one: Look around and see if you or any of your neighbors has beautiful evergreens in need of a trim. Always, always, always ask permission first before pruning! (I know that’s obvious to most of you – unfortunately there is someone in our neighborhood who does not remember to ask permission…)

2. Assemble your materials. Along with a variety of greens you’ll need a frame and 22 gauge wire (available at floral, crafts suppy stores and garden centers), pruners and a wisp (at least) of holiday spirit. Ready to make a wreath

3. Go!

The first bundleThe second bundlehalf done - will it be round?

Attach the wire to the frame so that if you tug on the wire it won’t unravel. Cut and put together a bundle of mixed greens – hint: using a backbone of white pine or balsam in each bundle will make a fairly sturdy, non-floppy wreath. Another hint: Make your first bundle extra long so that your last bundle can tuck underneath without sticks showing. Attach the bundle by winding the wire around the frame a time or two. Layer all subsequent bundles on the stick ends of the previous. Hint #3: If you want a fat wreath, closely overlap the bundles; to make a skinny wreath (ie, for inbetween door and stormdoor), make longish bundles and lay them farther apart. Keep checking as you go for symmetry. It’s easy to get stalled in one spot piling bundle after bundle in a skyscraper building sort of way, so watch out for that! Also (and this is what happens to me) don’t lose steam towards the end putting on thinner and thinner bundles because you’re “ready to be done now!” When you’ve made it all the way around, hold it up for a look because chances are you’ll need one or two more bundles (it’s inevitable). When you’re truly done, tie off the wire by passing the spool through a sewing loop and leaving a long strand of wire, snip it using wire cutters or the notch in your pruners (never cut with the blade!) and use that length of wire to (proudly!) hang up your wreath.

 

To make a bow, pinch a small loop of ribbon between your thumb and forefingerhow to make a bow. Working back and forth, make loops pinched in the middle until you have an even number on both sides of the middle mini loop. Cut the ribbon leaving a tail; cut another tail piece to attach and wrap a wire through to grab the wad between your fingers. Hint: Wired ribbon is the most forgiving.

My very first wreath was most certainly egg shaped – but I was never more proud. This one is, remarkably, pretty roundish! Wahoo!Finished - and boy am I wreath proud!

Saturday’s wreath classI made this wreath from workshop leftovers of white pine tips, Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’, C. pisifera ‘Squarrosa’, C. pisifera ‘Plumosa’, C. obtusa (Hinoki Cypress), Thujopsis dolobrata ‘Variegata’, Ilex aquifolium (English Holly), Buxus sempervirens ‘Rotundifolia’, and Rosa multiflora.

Everyone who participated in Saturday’s workshop went home with a wreath to be proud of and just like snowflakes, no two were at all alike! Do you make your own wreaths or any other holiday decorations? (Aren’t you proud?)

13 thoughts on “D.I.Y. Holiday Wreath

  1. I have always bought our wreaths, but you’ve inspired me to actually try making one this year. I’ll be lucky if mine is even egg-shaped…I’m not a very crafty person ;-)

  2. Kris: I usually make a swag or a burger or a fruity thing but maybe this year a wreath! When is the question! Yours is gorgeous! So simple and so lovely!

  3. Kris, beautiful. I’d be very proud to have that wreath hanging on my front door. I’m inspired, but I already went all out on the tree project and I’m spent. I do affix my very own wire bow to a purchased wreath each year. It’s 3 pieces of wire ribbon tied in a pretty bow — dark green, deep red, and silver. I’m posting on the Christmas tree project tomorrow.

  4. Colleen, That makes me so happy! I hope you post pictures of your creation – whatever ingenious shape it turns out to be (why do they have to be round after all?)

    Layanee, Thank you! — and what’s a burger??!

    Heather, Thank you too and I’ll be over soon to see the tree project!

  5. I make a wreath and garland for my front door every year from the plants in my yard that I consider ugly in the warmer seasons–the scrappy dwarf alberta spruce that’s twigged out on the top; the clouded juniper on the border of the property that has branched out; the crab apple with loads of crossed branches and acute crotch angles. All the plants, deemed ugly and worthy of the chain saw magically redeem themselves this time of year. I just wish my arborvitae would turn chartreuse more quickly so I could use it like you did Kris.

    One note to all wreath aspirants, though: before you go out and denude your landscape of all berries, fruits, healthy branches, be mindful of the little guys trying to survive off of your landscape. I often hang the wreaths in a tree after Christmas so the birds can pick away the edibles in January.

  6. Utterly delicious, Kris! I sometimes make a wreath after taking a workshop from a woman who is very talented, but usually I content myself with buying a few of hers to support her, and filling my containers with bunches of evergreens etc to compliment her beautiful wreaths. There are only so many hours in the day…

  7. This is a great idea … I am going to have to go scouting for some evergreens and make my own wreath. You’ve inspired me! And thank you, too, for the instructions on making a bow.

  8. Susan, That’s a great idea to give back the wreath – though I would also hope for the landscape’s sake that we take (borrow) only the minimum required. Plenty for everyone!

    Jodi, Thank you! There’s a wreath sale in Newport that benefits a women’s shelter – local gardeners and designers make the wreaths and they sell like hotcakes – sometimes supporting an artist or a cause is just what to do!

    Kate, I’m so glad — I love those words “you’ve inspired me”… It’s what I shoot for!

  9. What a great tutorial and a great idea! I don’t have access to a lot of evergreen prunings this year (unlike last year), but I’m hoping I can figure something out anyway, because this is so much more satisfying than just buying something! Thanks for the tutorial.
    ~Angela :-)

  10. Kris,

    I absolutely love your wreath, especially the Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Filifera Aurea’. I’m sure you’ve inspired alot of your readers to ‘give it a try’. I also love the idea of a wreath workshop. One holiday season, I invited everyone over for a party and had all of the wreath making material organized in the basement. Those who wanted to could make their own wreaths. It was pretty cool to see how certain individuals became involved with the process and felt very proud of their results. Thanks for stopping by GGW and telling me about your post! Fran

  11. Angela and Fran, Thanks for visiting!

    Angela, I’ll be checking your blog to see your decoration progression – looks like you’re a master!

    Fran, A wreath making party is a GREAT idea! A lot of the people who come to our workshop come in groups so there is a social party-like atmosphere (we don’t provide hors d’oeuvres and spiced cider though…)

  12. Gorgeous!! Love Love Love it. 1,000 times better than the one on Gardening Gone Wild!

  13. Thank you, Molly! They’re apples and oranges though – I love how home-made wreaths are like snowflakes – no two at all alike!

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