A wreath is an attractive, easy-to-make decoration for the upcoming holiday season. Materials that are needed to construct a wreath include a pruning shears, scissors, wreath frame, No. 22 or 24 gauge florist wire, wire cutter, and evergreen branches. Decorative materials, such as ribbon (bows), pine cones, holly, various fruits, and ornaments, may be used to finish the wreath.
When selecting a wreath frame, individuals can choose from box wire, crimped wire, styrofoam, and straw frames. An ordinary wire coat hanger may also be fashioned into a small wreath frame. Frames, florist wire, and other materials can be purchased at craft or hobby stores.
Evergreen branches (greens) can be obtained from the home landscape. A small amount of judicious pruning won't harm the trees and shrubs. Greens may also be purchased from garden centers, florist shops, and Christmas tree lots or farms. Additional materials, such as cones, holly, and bittersweet, can be purchased or collected outdoors.
A 15-inch-diameter wreath frame is ideal for most home decorations. Cut the greens into 4 to 6 inch sections. Begin by firmly attaching the end of the wire roll to the frame. Place a small bundle of greens on the frame; then the fasten the base of the twigs tightly to the frame with 2 or 3 turns of the wire. Position the second bundle of greens so as to cover the base of the first group. Continue this procedure around the frame, placing the groups close together to produce a thick, full wreath. Tuck the base of the final bundle of greens beneath the foliage of the first group and fasten it to the frame. Decorate the wreath with a bow, cones, ornaments, etc. Wire each item separately and fasten it to the frame. Finally attach a wire hanger to the top of the wreath frame. The wreath is now ready for hanging.
When constructing wreaths, use only fresh greens. Needles on old material will be dry and brittle. Fresh material will have a strong fragrance and pliable needles.
A wreath that possesses a strong evergreen fragrance has a special appeal when decorating indoors. Strongly scented greens include juniper, pine, and chamaecyparis. Spruce, fir, and yew are only lightly scented. Most wreaths are constructed of mixed greens; however, make sure their color and texture are compatible.
Wreaths hung outdoors should remain fresh for 3 to 4 weeks. The average life of an indoor wreath, however, is about 7 to 10 days. Indoor wreaths should be promptly removed when they become dry. The life of an indoor wreath can be prolonged by hanging it up only during special holiday occasions. Carefully place the wreath in a plastic bag and store in a cool location, such as a garage, during the remaining time.
This article originally appeared in the November 7, 1997 issue, p. 149.