Step 1: Bundle up warm and head outside with a sharp pair of cutters. Give your little ones (in our case they will be referred to as the boys) something constructive to do with themselves so you can chop your needles uninterrupted. Fill up your box to overflowing and then some – you’ll use more than you think. Trust me.
Step 2: Pour yourself some warm coffee and set the atmosphere. Turn up some Christmas carols, light a candle, relish the beauty of Christmas décor. Relax. This is going to be fun! (We settled the boys down for a Mary Rice Hopkins video and they set to dancing & head banging the morning away. Perfect.)
Step 3: Collect the materials you will need for making wreaths. Here’s the list:
1) fresh-cut pine boughs (You can do boughs of your choice. Our preferred favorite is balsam, but this year we had to do blue spruce and green. You can also do hemlock, though a hemlock wreath will shed far more.)
2) green floral wire (Did you know you can buy this for $1 at the Dollar Tree? It is also available in most crafting and department stores like Joann’s, Wal-Mart or Target.)
3) wire cutter (I have seen these at the Dollar Tree too!)
4) circular wire frame (Available at Joann’s around here, and sometimes, if you’re lucky enough, you can pick them up at thrift stores!)
5) roll of unused wire-framed ribbon (Available almost anywhere at a department store, but again, you can find this at Dollar Tree and it works just as well.)
6) Whatever embellishments you desire to use for your wreath. This year we chose to use $.74 worth of burlap(2/8 of a yard at $3.99 a yard, from Joann’s), pine cones collected from the backyard, and red berries cut from the side of a Guys Mill Road (and obtained from our friend April who had surplus to share!). Some of my friends have used fake fruit as wreath decorations and we have even used moss in previous years! The sky is the limit, let your creative juices flow!
Step 4: The next step will be creating clusters of pine boughs, in between sips of coffee of course. Dig through the collection of boughs you have freshly cut and match pieces together – thick enough to look full, but not so thick you can’t easily handle. You may have to cut some of your boughs into pieces using your wire cutter.
Once you have got a workable bunch, cut a section of floral wire and wind tightly around the stem of your pine bough cluster. This will secure your bough pieces together so they can be fastened later to your wire frame. Repeat this process until all of your pine boughs have been separated into clusters ready to become a wreath!
Step 5: There now, it hasn’t been hard at all, has it? You should now have a significant pile of pine bough clusters and you are ready for the next step.
a) Knot the end of your wire onto your wire frame.
b) Take the first cluster of pine and bind it to the frame with the floral wire. Pull it taut to secure the bough. I like to double-bind each section for added security.
c) Work your way around the circular wire frame, overlapping each pine bough cluster for a full, even look. Make sure to be pulling your floral wire tight and occasionally double-check the stability of your wreath by shaking the frame. It never hurts to go overboard on binding the bough clusters to the frame. If you feel like quadruple binding the boughs, do it. Floral wire is cheap.
Step 6: Well-ah! You have it. A plain-looking homemade wreath – ready to meet with your creative skills and your personal taste. How do you want to embellish your green circle?
(You’ll see that we used a mixture of blue and green spruce, which is not what we prefer and we won’t do it again. Now that we have our wreath embellished, you can’t tell, as you will see later, but we still like a more uniform look.)
Here is how we embellished ours…
a) We cut the 1/8 yard of burlap into two long, thin sections and hot-glued them together, end to end, into one piece that we wound around our wreath. We connected the pieces of burlap wound around our wreath with another bit of hot glue, like you see pictured here…
b) We attached the darling red berries rescued from a country ditch, next. We cut the large branches of berries into small arrangements, occasionally shouting “ouch”. The endearing things have very thorny stems, so if you choose this route for decoration – watch out! You can wire your small bouquets of red berries into your wreath where you choose, or hot glue them. I personally suggest using the glue gun for this one. It is far easier and I think more secure.
c) Attaching the pine cones we foraged from the backyard is the easiest part of wreath-making. Simply select where you want them displayed on your wreath and wire or glue them into place. Again, I prefer and suggest the use of a glue gun.
d) Now it is time for the bow, and don’t go off saying you can’t make one. Guess what – neither can I. Seriously. I never could make a bow. They always had that “she-tried-really-really-hard look” to them, until my lovely friend in Maine taught me how simple it is, this art of making bows.
1) First decide how long you want your tail to be and grab the spot you want the actual bow to start.
2) Simply make seven loops, just like you see in this picture here. (It could be less or more loops than this, but it should be an odd number for the prettiest look. I personally think seven is the perfect amount – not sparse and yet not extravagant).
3) Make sure your lengths of loop are even. That spot you grabbed in the beginning? The ends of each loop should evenly meet there, so you have a small handful of ribbon where you first decided to start looping (step one).
4) Twist the base of your loops and wire them tightly together with your floral wire. I usually wrap a significant amount of wire around the ribbon base and double-check to be sure that no loop was missed (otherwise it will slip loose and come partially apart).
6) Decide where you want your bow and fasten to your wreath/wreath frame with floral wire.
So grab a friend, some coffee and Christmas and have some food old-fashioned fun. It will become a Christmas addiction.
This is Andrea’s wreath with the red bow. This is my wreath with the white bow.