Many years ago I worked at a real estate company that sponsored a Christmas decorating contest called Chittenden A-glow. It was a lot of fun. Four of us drove all over Chittenden County to various towns scoring the decoration entries. We were even interviewed on WCAX TV. People do amazing things to decorate their homes during the cold, dark, holiday season, making them look wonderful and festive and, well, happy.
All those pretty homes inspired me to get creative and go out into the woods to cut evergreen boughs and create my very own Christmas wreaths. While I would not win any blue ribbons for my designs, I enjoy the process and I am willing to share my wreath-making experience. Here is what I’ve done to make simple, elegant wreaths.
First and foremost, invest in some circular frames. I purchased three wire frames and some green wire for wrapping the ferns my first year and I still use them now. They have paid for themselves several times over. You can get them at Michael’s on Williston Road in Burlington.
I live in the mountains of Underhill and have pine forests within easy reach, not to mention several in my own yard which seem to need trimming annually. This is where I get most of my pine boughs. Another option is to go to a Christmas tree farm, such as White’s Tree Farm in Essex Junction, and pick up some of their scraps. Most tree farms generally sell them for nominal amounts.
Decorations can consist of pine cones, berries, sprayed white snow, ribbons, glitter, and more. The options are endless. I tend towards red and shinny… yes it’s true. You will find a huge variety of wreath decorations at Michaels, so while you’re there picking up the wreath frames, take a look around at all the holiday decorations they have.
Once you have gathered all the parts, cut the boughs into small manageable sizes, six to ten inches long at most. Cut many of them, more than you think you could possibly use. You will most likely use most of them.
I have two methods for attaching the greens to the wreath frames. One is to gather a bunch of the cut boughs together and wrap and bind them. Then I fit them around the frame and tie them in, generally making layers until the wreath appears full.
Last year however, I tried a different technique. I just kept layering ferns around the frame until it looked full and then I tied them in with wire. I repeated this about three times. This method created a more spiky appearance.
Now it’s time to add decorations. Here is where your personal style comes into play. Go wild! Or not. I tend to be conservative with a big red bow and shiny red berries. However, if you want to get really creative and design a more formal wreath, check on the ones shown in the gorgeous front door displays in the winter edition of Best of Burlington magazine, pages 27-30.
Good luck and have fun!