How to make a Christmas wreath
Set some time aside during the busy festive season for a bit of creativity. Making your own Christmas wreath is easy and extraordinarily fun. What's more, if you use natural materials foraged from the garden or the woods, they are one of the most environmentally friendly decorations you can have in your home!
Decorating our homes for the festive season is something we all look forward to, and one of the most iconic decorations is the classic Christmas wreath. In fact, the very first sign of Christmas is often the hanging of the wreath. A pretty, festive wreath can be a warm show of welcome on a cold, snowy night when your home is likely to have a stream of visiting relatives, friends and carol singers.
There are some stunning wreaths available to buy, or you can commission a florist or local nursery to make one for you. However, there is something special about making your own. Wreath making is a fun, creative activity that the whole family can do together to while away a quiet winter’s afternoon. It is so, so easy to do yourself and you can make something that suits your home and reflects your personal tastes. There is nothing better than telling your guests; ‘I made that myself’. Get some logs on the wood burner, mull some wine and put your favourite festive playlist on in the background while you work. Perfection.
Why do we hang wreaths?
The origins of the Christmas Wreath are uncertain. Still, many people suggest that they derived from the ‘diadems’ that were popular during the Persian Empire. These woven crowns adorned the heads of high-profile people and were a symbol of importance and success. Some believe that these crowns evolved into the ceremonial laurel wreaths of ancient Greek and Roman athletes. Once an athlete or high standing person decided to save their wreath as a souvenir of their victory, they would proudly hang it on the wall outside for everyone to see.
Medieval German Christians started to use advent wreaths during the festive season, laying them flat on a table with four candles to mark the four weeks leading up to Christmas. The use of evergreen foliage such as pine sprigs was a symbol of continued life through the barren winter months, and the circle represented the constantly changing cycle of seasons.
Evergreen wreaths and boughs of holly have been adorning our doors, walls and fireplaces for centuries. Now, we tend to make them from every material imaginable, from tinsel to brightly coloured baubles, lavender sprigs and even succulents. They can be sensationally luxurious too, with the world’s most valuable wreath ever made costing an astounding £2,835,000 in 2013. It included over 40 rubies and diamonds, no less! Leading floral designer, Pasi Jokinen-Carter from Finland, used rare flowers and leaves as part of the arrangement.
From an eco-friendly perspective, a wreath made from greenery collected from your own garden is one of the best ways to decorate your home. Here is how to make one:
You will need:
- A pair of secateurs
- Wire cutters
- Florist wire
- Flexible branches such as willow or eucalyptus
- Two or three different types of foliage
- Decorative items – you can get some great packs on Etsy which give you a variety of natural things to get creative with.
Step 1: Making the wreath base
Collect a generous handful of long, flexible, bendy branches, for example from a weeping willow tree or eucalyptus. Remove the leaves and gather them together, twisting them together into a hoop. Keep going round in the same direction, always turning the branches inwards and tucking the ends into each other. The wreath will get stronger and take shape, the more you add. If made firmly, your wreath base will last for a good few years, so simply take your decorations off and re-use next Christmas.
Step 2: Use moss to bulk out the base
Tie a single loop of wire around your wreath and then begin to wrap it around the entire hoop, binding even amounts of moss to the wreath as you go. The moss helps to cover everything with a natural layer and add shape to your wreath. When you get to the point where you started at the top, make a little wire ring so you can attach your wreath to the door when it is finished.
Step 3: Cover with evergreen foliage
Use evergreen foliage such as ivy, spruce, bay, cedar or holly. Choose a couple of varieties to add interest and texture to your wreath. You will be surprised at how much foliage you need to use to make your wreath, so if you are gathering greenery on your next woodland walk, make sure you bring plenty back with you. This is also an ideal way to recycle any offcuts from Christmas trees if you have to cut them down to size.
Make a bunch of foliage in your hand, creating a fan shape with the taller bits of leaf spread out at the back. Hold the fan against the wreath and wrap the wire around, firmly securing everything in place. Four of five wraps of the wire should be enough for a stable structure. Add the foliage all the way around, overlapping each bunch to cover the wire from the previous fan.
Step 4: Decorating your wreath
Start with the larger decorations such as fir cones, dried lotus pods and orange slices. Arrange them evenly around the wreath, attaching them with florist wire. You can warm fir cones in the oven to open them and make it easier to thread the wire through. Once you are happy with your arrangement, add smaller decorations like rosehip sprigs, holly berries, shells, feathers, dried flowers, fluffy old man’s beard and dried hydrangeas.
You should be able to pull back the foliage and poke the sprigs into the main body of the wreath. If you want to add ribbons, create a bow first and then attach with wire, rather than tying the fabric around the whole wreath. A glue gun can be an easy way to stick additional loose pieces into your arrangement, like star anise, acorns, small baubles, cinnamon sticks, jingle bells, stars or wooden letters.
If you enjoyed making your own decorations, you can go on to make matching table displays, like this beautiful garland featured in our Christmas orangery photoshoot.
Looking after your wreath is relatively simple. If the weather forecast predicts frost, bring your wreath inside or store in a shed or garage overnight. Keep all the foliage looking fresh with a spritz of water from a spray bottle. You should end up with a wonderfully personal, completely spectacular Christmas decoration that you and your family will love.