Southern Roots

Welcome Home: Make Your Own Holiday Wreath

By Pamela A. Keene  |  Photography courtesy of Hernando Flower Shop and Pixabay

Let creativity be your guide when making beautiful holiday wreaths.

The fresh smell of evergreens greets visitors on the front porches of homes across the South. From the scents of pine to the fragrance of mixed cedar and Fraser fir branches, you know it is holiday time when people dress up their doors with wreaths and garland.

“There’s nothing better than fresh greens during the holidays,” says Angie Tacker, owner of Hernando Flower Shop in Hernando, Miss. “Both for Thanksgiving and Christmas, placing a wreath on your front door lets friends know you’re ready for the holidays.”

Although pagan in origin, in Christian beliefs wreaths bring with them a history of symbolism. The round shape signifies eternity, the unending circle of life. Using evergreens represents growth; holly branches with bright red berries are a reminder of the red blood that Christ shed on the cross. Ivy intertwined on a wreath signals affection.

Some people create separate wreaths for each season. Choosing fall colors – rich oranges, deep golds, and burgundy reds – works well for Thanksgiving, especially when using natural materials.

“Get into the holiday spirit early by crafting a fall wreath in early November,” Tacker advises. “You can include miniature gourds or pumpkins, fall leaves, springs of wheat or silk sunflowers. Add some whimsy with a small plush figure, like a turkey or a pilgrim.”

Anything goes for Christmas wreaths this season, but evergreens reign supreme. Whether you take a traditional approach with Christmas red and green or add some elegance using glittery gold and sparkling silver, evergreens set the tone for the holiday season.

“Boxwood, evergreens, and pine are some of the most popular materials for making wreaths today,” Tacker says. “They last the whole season and require little more than some spritzers of water every few days to keep them looking fresh. As a foundation for the wreath, they are versatile and provide a nice background for florals, ribbons, small artificial birds or pine cones.”

Angie recommends using a wire wreath form. “Available in many diameters, wire forms are easy to work with because you can cut your plant materials into flexible branches and secure them to the frame. Be careful not to trim them too short; the goal is to provide an appealing shape that’s graceful.”

Use shorter pieces wired together to add bulk. Wrap the stem ends of the branches with floral tape, especially if you’re using pine or fir, to keep the sap from dripping.

Once you’ve covered the form, it’s time to begin embellishing.

“Choose a theme for your wreath, then stick to it,” she says. “It’s tempting to find many different pretty items to use, but simplicity is better. For instance, if you want to use a floral

theme, don’t overdo it. One nice spray of flowers, such as some elegant red roses with a few berries or a grouping of silk poinsettias and mixed greenery, makes a nice focal point toward the bottom on either the left or the right side. By weaving some wide ribbon among the evergreens and finishing with one or two smaller flowers diagonally opposite the larger spray, you’ve created a balanced design.”

For a natural wreath start with willow or grape vines twisted into a circle. Tacker suggests adding a larger cluster of red berries and pine cones offset to the left or right of the bottom. Complement it with another smaller bunch diagonally across.

“This is a very simple way to make a wreath that has a woodsy or rustic flair, but you can make it more elaborate by using dried plant materials, like spray-painted okra, shiny magnolia leaves or nosegays of lavender, thyme, and rosemary,” she says.

Williamsburg-style holiday wreaths frequently include fresh fruit, such as apples, clusters of holly or cranberries, lemons or oranges, small pineapples and groupings of walnuts wired together.

“Browsing the internet is an excellent way to determine the type of wreath you’d like to make,” Tacker says. “With sites like Pinterest and ways to search for all kinds of holiday themes, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with ideas. Pick a few that you admire, find out if the elements are available to you, then begin.

“Making a wreath may be a challenge at first, but the more you practice and get comfortable with the process, the more you’ll let your creativity be your guide.”

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