How to make your own wreath
Create a natural holiday look with berries and colorful foliage from your garden.
Thu, Dec 08 2011 at 12:02 PM
WREATH FESTIVITIES: Design holiday wreaths by placing decorative elements on the wreath and moving them around to get your desired look before wiring everything into place. (Photo: Tom Oder)
If you'd like to make your own wreath for Christmas, there’s a good chance you have an abundance of plant material growing just a few steps from your front door to make a unique sign of the season.
Take a look around your yard or garden for the amazing number of plants that make colorful berries in late fall and early winter and for those with foliage in interesting shapes, colors and textures. Here’s an example of some plants to look for:
Hollies, especially variegated ones
Cypresses, junipers and similar evergreens (look for stems full of berries)
Japanese maples with red or yellow branches
Native and ornamental grasses
Beech trees (the leaves stay brown through winter)
And if you want to give your wreath a regional look, choose plants that are native to your part of the country. For example, if you live in the South, what could be more Southern than magnolia leaves?
The easiest way to make your own wreath is to buy a wire frame from a garden center with the greenery already attached. If you want to make your own wreath from scratch, arts and crafts stores usually sell bare wire frames. Christmas tree branches, boxwood stems, magnolia leaves and vines are popular base materials.
The only equipment you will need to get started is a pair of clippers, thin green florist wire and a little imagination!
The best way to make build your wreath is to lay it on a flat surface. This allows you to place plant material on the wreath and “design” it before you begin wiring on various branches and flowers.
It’s also very important at this time to orient the wreath so that you know where the top is. This will prevent you from finishing the wreath only to realize it’s sideways or upside down. The wire frame should have a hook indicating the top of the wreath.
In designing your wreath, think about three basic looks:
The corsage effect. There is a central focal point, which can be in the center, to a side or at the top.
A uniform look. Items are spread evenly around the wreath, possibly covering every inch.
Interspersed look. Items are spread at intervals around the wreath.
At this point, if you are thinking to yourself … "I am so not creative!" Don’t worry. This is your wreath, and there’s no right or wrong way to make it.
Just go with your instincts for a look that you like. And, because you aren’t wiring in colorful leaves and branches with berries yet, you can move things around until you get that look.
Once you have the wreath the way you want it, use the thin, green florist wire to tie the decorative elements to the base. You may be able to tuck some of these into the base branches on the frame or into the wire frame itself. Just cut the stems to fit and slide them into the greenery to hide any bare parts. Most of these decorative branches and stems will have to be tied to keep them secure. (Remember, the door that holds the wreath will be opening and closing a lot during the holidays as friends and family stop by to share holiday cheer — and admire your handiwork!)
Start designing the wreath with a focal point of plant material that catches your interest.
If you want, add exotic flowers from the florist.
Use magnolia leaves to fill in the hole in the center of the wreath.
When everything is tied onto the wreath, give it a shake. Retie anything that wobbles.
When buying plants at the nursery next spring and summer, think about colors, textures and winter flowering shrubs and trees and what you’d like to put on next year’s wreath.
Bonus tip: Pine cones
Pine cones, prevalent in much of the country, can be tricky to add to wreaths because they are brittle and can break easily. Instead of using wire to attach them to wreaths, it may be easier to use twine, which is more pliable and easier to guide between the scales of the cones than wire. If you are picking your own cones, try to find ones that have a sturdy stem and attach the wire or twine there. If no cones with stems have fallen from the trees in your yard, you’ll have to thread the wire or twine through the lower scales of the cone and then twist or tie that to the cone. The challenge is to do this without breaking the scales of the cones. Patience and nimble fingers are key. Then use the remainder of your wire or twine to secure the cone to the wreath.
Have other tips for how to make your own wreath? Leave us a note in the comments below.
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