I live close to what I like to call the Christmas Crack Store. Blasphemous, perhaps, yet totally true. I paid that special place a visit last week and came home with boughs upon clusters upon strands of assorted evergreens and got busy with one of my favourite annual traditions to do this time of year. Making wreaths. You see, the holiday season does something mighty fine to my insides. I get all in a tither about making and crafting and creating things that I know the people whom I love, will love.
I also really dig buying gifts for my kids, family and friends. Little things. Some big things (mostly for the kids and my mister). I try to reign it in and every year I’m getting better at being more organized with my making, (equalling less buying), so that I can really get into the process. Less last minute stressed out Betty, more enjoyment.
I’m definitely not a fan of the mass-consumerism that throbs and booms and pulsates around the holidays. It hurts my heard and heart to know that there are many families who go into a small amount of debt every year around this time to buy SO. MUCH. STUFF. Or those that feel inadequate because they can’t cover their living room floors with presents. Gifts with hefty price-tags in shocking amounts. All the brands, all the tech gear.
Not for me, no thanks.
What I can get into is gifting a friend with a handmade wreath say, (for example, ahem), for Winter Solstice. Or a basket of edible goodies that I canned over the summer and fall with handmade ornaments and some small boughten gifts, or thrifted treasures and coveted vinyl. Homemade cookies. Gifts that I put a lot of thought into and didn’t go crashing into some store days before the grand rip and tear, just to buy something. I don’t do last minute shopping, never have. I buy year round, the little that I do buy and I keep a list going to know remind myself of what I’ve got going on and to keep within the budget.
Pretty simple to me. It took a couple of years for Trev to stop giving me the side-eye when we were at a festival or a market in the middle of the summer and I saw something that I knew a so and so in our life would love and proclaimed that I was purchasing it for them for Xmas. He was very much the last minute shopper.
Let’s just say I think I’ve converted him and in the process I don’t think he despises the holidays so much anymore. He really gets into our basket making thing and I not-so-secretly revel in watching his eyes gleam when a pal or a relative open up the treasures within. (Blow-up Santa and Rudolph on the roof however, I’m pretty sure he hates.)
I’ve been a busy bee the past few weeks and have some exciting tutorials to share with you – but first things first. For me it always begins with decking those halls. It really gets me into the spirit of things…
Wire or wicker wreath base
Assorted evergreens (I used magnolia leaf tips, boxwood, fine Australian cedar, fraser and balsam fir, pine, gold tipped and regular cedar.)
Floral wire (I didn’t have that, so I used brass wire from the hardware store that I use for beading)
Mini pruning shears
Work or gardening gloves (hindsight)
Wire ribbon (I used a really wide, natural cotton weaved one)
Faux cranberry spray branches (optional, I used two)
Bells (optional, I used six medium matte gold ones)
Start clipping medium sized, manageable pieces that you can stuff into the base. Keep going around, creating your own pattern and securing with wire as needed. I was quite free with mine and didn’t follow a template. I wanted this to be really lush and it is! You don’t want your wire showing so it’s best to do this in clusters, not cutting the wire as you go and keeping it hidden as you tuck in and wrap wire around each new cluster, nestled over-top of the last.
Reserve your fanciest evergreen (whatever you have the least of or that you favour the most which is usually the more expensive one), to stuff into the wreath last. For me it was the boxwood and the magnolia tips. This is where I used the glue gun to tuck the pieces in.
You can leave it as it is here, a lovely, unadorned and completely natural living evergreen wreath. Or you can add some accents such as I did, beginning with a faux cranberry spray flanking either side of the bottom centre of the wreath as shown below. They usually come on wire ‘branches’ and are easily pliable to twist, curve and turn into the wreath. Find your way to the inside of the base of your wreath and wrap that wire around the form.
The perfect bow? I’m sure there are tutorials on-line for this. Myself? I just fiddled until I was happy with something big and floppy. Upon inspecting the pre-made bows at the afore-mentioned Christmas Crack Store, I opted out of buying those (even they they come on handy wires, perfect for wreaths), because I figured it would be simple enough to make my own and use the wire I already had at home. It was easy and it was also cheaper. For the same amount of money I bought a whole roll of that gorgeous cotton wide weaved ribbon down there with tons left over for wrapping gifts. All you have to do is snip a medium sized length of wire and feed an end through the back centre of the bow (as shown below), pulling it out just enough to wrap around the knot of the bow, (through the back so it won’t be visible.) Now you should have a bow on a wire that you can stick into your wreath and secure around the form inside!
It’s up to you…without the bow…
Because I was hanging my wreath on our front door, I knew bells for me it was. Maybe you don’t like bells, maybe you’re not putting this somewhere that it will move about and make noise. Skip this step then. You’re done and ready to hang! For the bell lovers, you’re almost there. Cut three lengths of hemp string (however long you want the bells to hang down from the wreath) and knot an end of each string to 3 of the bells. Feed the non-bell ends through the bottom middle of the wreath, just under the knot of the centre of the bow. Leave some space between each one and tie to the form inside. Snip short pieces of wire for the remaining three bells to loops and twist through the tips of the bells and poke the other end through the wreath (as shown below), creating a cluster. Using your needle nosed pliers, twist the wire around the form on the inside. That’s it, you’re ready to hang!
I used the same ribbon from the bow to hang the wreath to a permanent mini hook on the top of our front door for wreaths…you can use a wreath hanger, or whatever you wish.
This would also make an excellent gift as I mentioned for Winter Solstice, for friends or family like yourself who love to decorate over the holidays! So make 2, or 3! I used the remaining greenery for my urns outside and for our harvest table centre-piece. Fantastically frugal DIY’ing here friends.