But that's high for this former English teacher now a blogging stay-at-home mom.
Why not make our own fresh wreath this year? Anyone with a evergreen tree, a few dollars and 30 minutes can make a festive wreath.
Once you've mastered the technique, the same skills work on any wreath, garland or swag~ for any holiday or occasion.
So that lavender, magnolia or herb wreath you've been dying to try your hand at uses the exact same method you'll learn about today.
Fresh wreaths make a wonderful gift for your mom, the hostess, a special teacher, neighbor or a close friend.
Once you've gathered the supplies, we're talking 20-40 minutes of time per wreath.
Here's my step-by-step guide to wreath-making start to finish. Ready to go? Let's do this because nothing beats the fresh scent of a live wreath!
Getting those greens to save you some "green"....
Even at the local garden center, wreaths start at $50. I'll pass on that price until I win the lotto that I don't play.
Where's the best place to acquire fresh evergreens to make your own live wreath? Your yard. Time to prune! A few solid branches and you'll have what you need.
How about a neighbor? A friend? Your parents? Know anyone with a cabin in the woods with lots of trees? Snip. Snip.
Big bonus for holly bushes. Those little red pearls will make that wreath sparkle and shine!
No yard? No trees? Do you get a live tree? Know anyone who does?
I always go for a bigger tree (8 ft) knowing that I'll snip the bottom branches for wreath making.
And it never hurts to ask the tree selling proprietor to give you some branches laying around on the ground for free.
In my experience, they are always happy to oblige. A win-win!
- 12" or 18" metal wreath form (like this) can be bought for a few bucks at a craft store. (Hobby Lobby, Michael's, Joann's all carry them.) They are ideally formed and sized to carry fresh greenery branches and can be used year after year. A wreath form might look small at 12" but once you add all the puffy greenery, the wreath will seem plenty big for a regular width door. I got mine at Walmart for $1.77 and was able to pick up my husband a few new snazzy pairs of underwear. Of course men's underwear! What else?
- Floral wire (like this) - Green colored wire is best because it will blend in with your greenery and metal wreath form. You'll hardly notice it. At the craft store, you'll see this type of wire near the artificial flowers. If not, it doesn't hurt to ask a helpful employee. Let's hope they had that second cup of coffee and are still happy.
- Wire-cutters (like this) - You probably already own a pair of wire-cutters. Don't use your kitchen scissors for the task, it will ruin them. Even if you need to buy a pair, you'll use them for lots of other projects. Or borrow one of your husbands tools. He'll never know if you put it back before he notices it's missing.
- Fresh greenery cut into 5" - 12" sections. Pine, spruce, holly, cedar, magnolia ~ whatever floats your evergreen boat. I like using a mix of fresh greens to add depth, color variations and texture to my wreath. The longer pieces will stick out giving your wreath a rustic and natural flare.
- Pine cones, ribbon or other adornments to make your wreath heart sing. Now it's time to dress up your wreath.
- More ornamental decor. Bling is my thing. So I buy lots of ornaments and glittery decor to add to my wreath. You simply can't have too much glitz and glam at Christmas~ it's impossible. But this year Walmart had everything I needed to make my glamorous side sparkle!! Big bonus for the clips on the back of the pieces. This made attaching to the wreath a breeze! Yay for Walmart.
- Loppers and hand pruners. Loppers (like these) are very useful to make the initial cut in your evergreen tree. Hand pruners (like these) are excellent for fine-tuning cuts, making those smaller pieces needed for your wreath. So if you don't already own a good set, now is the time to get your hands on a quality pair!
- Tarp (like this) One big tarp makes a great workspace if you want to keep your area clean and free of pine needles, dirt and other debris.
- Garden gloves (like these) Go figure that the biggest advocate for natural birth doesn't like her hands getting pricked by pine needles. So I wear gloves wreath-making.
- Over-the-door wreath hanger (like this) makes life easier. In fact, buy a few of them for every door you'll hang a wreath from. Use year-round!
Insider Tip: Themed wreaths!
Step one: Get organized
But it's not a perfect world and it's too cold outside now where I live to make a wreath.
For you, a warmer basement or garage might work if heated.
So I like to create my wreath on the hardwood floor in my den. (For the ahem...under 40...nah, let's go with 50 crowd). For those of you pushing past 50, if you don't want to sit on the ground...I get it!
But when I work on the floor I can just sweep up the pine needles and toss when done.
And there's no shame on laying a tarp on the floor to work on. Then you shake all the needles outside and keep the sweeping to the bare minimum when you're finished.
Bear in mind that the branches you bring in from "the great outdoors" look and smell great but will have some dirt, leaves and other debris on them.
So the tarp is for preventative measures. Let's slay the mess before it happens.
Then, lay out everything you need on the tarp so you can continue working non-stop.
Step two - Snip clippings from your evergreen branches
Smaller pieces with thinner bases (more twiggy) are easier to handle and bundle together. They also end up looking cuter!
Your first task is to cut those big branches down to size creating 50-60 of 5" to 12" pieces. I wouldn't go any longer than 12" as a general rule.
Most of the pieces you'll be able to sever using just your fingers, but keep a pair of pruners/loppers on hand for those thicker bases.
Then you'll make little evergreen bouquets out of 3-5 evergreen pieces and those will be tied with wire directly to the form wreath.
So you'll need about 3-5 evergreen pieces per "bouquet" or bundle and about 15-20 bundles per wreath.
I used 3 evergreen pieces per bouquet and 20 bundles of these to complete my wreath. But I like a very full wreath!
It's nice to use an assortment of evergreen in each bundle to create depth, color variation and build texture.
For example, maybe you'll use two pine pieces, two spruce pieces and one holly piece in varying lengths for effect. Or one pine, one spruce and one holly for a bunch of 3.
Step three - Create bough bundles
So take your 3-5 snippets of evergreen that are 5"-12" in length and gather them together at the base of the branch.
Longer and shorter pieces and ones of various coloring work well together.
Use your floral wire to wrap the boughs together tightly at their woody stemmed base. This could take 5-6 times around.
For this step, I like to use the long strips of wire that can be purchased for 99 cents a pack. (As seen in the supplies photo).
I used half a strip for each bouquet cutting them in half before using them. Make sure you wrap the wire tight enough around that base so that your bouquets won't come unloosed. Tight is key!
I like to make most of my bough bouquets before starting and then I attach them to my wreath with wire. This way I can lay them out on the metal form to get a gist of what the end result will be.
But not all wreath makers choose to wire their bouquets together first. Some skip this step altogether and just gather their bundles tightly at the base and tie them directly to the wreath.
Personally, I feel my wreath is more secure wiring the bouquets together prior to attaching them to the wreath. You do what works for you!
Step four - Attach the bough bundles to the metal wreath form
Take your first bundle (remember 3-5 pieces of evergreen) and place it against the wreath form. Use your floral wire to wrap the bundle around the form a few times (5 or 6) until it feels very secure.
DO NOT CLIP THE WIRE WHEN YOU ARE FINISHED!
Take your second bundle, and layer it slightly over the first bundle. Try to criss-cross so that the tail end of the second bundle covers the wire and woody stems of the first bundle.
Moving up an inch is a rough estimate. You definitely don't want a sparse wreath so your artistic judgment is essential! I barely left 1/2 inch because I didn't want any gaps. Unsightly!
See how it's starting to form?
Then add a fourth and fifth bundle. Each subsequent bundle you add covers the previous bundle's wire. Leave no gaps.
Keep repeating this process of wiring the bundles to the wreath and covering the wire until you have worked your way around the entire circle.
When you get to the last bundle, tuck the base of the branch end under the first bundle's greenery.
After you make sure that last evergreen bouquet is secure, you can finally snip your wire.
Step five - Decorate & adorn your wreath!
It's the only time of year you can get away with as much glitter and bling as your hearts desire with no shame.
At Christmas, no one is tacky or over over-the-top!
Secret Code: Bling
Just don't hack at it! That would be a disaster. But snipping off little pieces that got too thick and don't look right is fine!
But if there's a weak spot in your wreath? Bingo. That's where you stick the big, red bow. No one will ever know.
And cheer up. No one makes a perfect wreath the first time. You learn each and every time you make one.
My first wreath took me 25 minutes to make. The second. Done in 15. Wreath-making is like that.
You'll learn techniques that suit you too as you go on your wreath making journey.