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Hang in There
by Melissa Butler Burdick

Wreaths are a classic holiday decoration and nothing could be better suited to do-it-yourself crafting. But wreaths with fancy silk flowers and luxurious bows can get very pricey, not to mention more than a little fussy. I prefer to stick with the original wreath materials – items straight from the garden – but add a few glitzy or modern twists here and there. A quick trip to the thrift store will save tons of money … did you know you can take your pick of horrid old wreaths for pennies and strip them down to the bare frame? A little creativity will reveal tons of potential in everyday objects such as old shirts and jewelry. A spritz of spray paint can take a wreath from bland and cheap to elegant and expensive-looking. And never underestimate the transformative power of glitter! Take a few cues from the examples here and get inspired to create your own holiday garden wreath this weekend.

 

 
Simple Magnolia Wreath 
$5



 

 



Materials:

Thrift Store
• Straw Wreath Form $2
• Scarf $1

Garden
• Magnolia Leaves $0

Craft Store
• Floral Pins $2

 

This simple and easy wreath took about half an hour to make. Gather leaves from a magnolia (M. grandiflora) or any large-leaf evergreen at hand. Start by laying one leaf on the straw form and fix it in place with a floral pin. Pin the next leaf on top of the first lower down to cover the first pin; try to leave about half of the first leaf exposed. Continue pinning the leaves all the way around the wreath until you reach the beginning again. Tuck the bottom ends of the last leaves under the tops of the first leaves to finish the circle. The evergreen leaves will last a long time without wilting or browning. An inexpensive wintry scarf replaces the traditional ribbon for a wintry theme.

 

 

 
Cottage Herb Wreath 
$5


 

 

 

Materials:

Thrift Store
• Grapevine Wreath $2

Garden
• Rosemary Stems $0
• Bay Stems $0

Craft Store
• Little Owl $3

Home
• Hot Glue and Gun $0

 

This cute wreath is absolutely charming, and fragrant too! Start with a grapevine wreath base and an armful of 10-inch-long evergreen herb stems such as rosemary (Rosmarinus sp.) or bay (Laurus nobilis). Stem by stem strip off the bottom 2 to 3 inches of leaves and tuck the stems into the grapevine form until you have a tight fit, no glue or wire needed! Owls are very “in” right now, so I hot glued a little one to the bottom of the wreath. Try a faux cardinal for a more classical, seasonal reference.

 

 
Golden Holly Wreath 
$9


 

 

 

Materials:

Thrift Store
• Woven Wreath $2
• Old Brooch $3

Garden
• Holly Stems $0

Hardware Store
• Gold Spray Paint $4

Home
• Floral Wire $0


This fast and easy wreath has the elegant glamour of gold. Spray paint the wreath form in metallic gold and let it dry. Clip 12-inch-long stems from a large-leaf holly. I used Ilex x ‘Emily Bruner’; look for one with Christmassy red berries. Arrange one or two holly stems along the wreath in one direction and tie them in place with floral wire. Take a few more slightly shorter stems and tie them to the wreath in the other direction with the cut ends just touching the first bunch. Add a chic “gold” brooch to cover the ends of the stems and, voila, you’re done!

 

Pinecones and Plaid Wreath 
$11
 

 

Materials:

Thrift Store
• Grapevine Wreath $3

Garden
• Pine Cones $0

Craft Store
• Plaid Ribbon $3
• Spray Glitter $5

Home
• Hot Glue and Gun $0

 

This was one of the most expensive wreaths to make (about $11!), and it wasn’t one of the easiest. It took about two hours and five hot glue burns to attach all the pinecones, but the results are worth it. Start on one side and hot glue a pinecone flat against the wreath form. Use hot glue to layer on more pinecones working your way around the wreath, covering the bottom of each pinecone with the tip of the next one. As you move around the wreath the angle of the cones will become more perpendicular to the wreath base, eventually the cones will point straight out. Stop here and move to the opposite side of the wreath to start the next half of the pinecone crescent. Work in the same way toward the bottom and position the cones into a starburst arrangement where the two sides meet. Move the wreath outside and give the cones a good dusting with silver spray glitter. When that’s dry you can tuck in sprigs of evergreen (here I used Ilex x ‘Chesapeake’) to hide any glue globs. Hang it with a loop of simple plaid ribbon for a classic Yuletide look.

 

 
Chic Privet Wreath 
$3


 

 

 

Materials:

Garden
• Privet Stems $0

Craft Store
• Wire Wreath $3

Home
• Floral Wire $0

 

Our front door is a very bright red and has an awesome starfish knocker. I love the doorknocker but it tends to interfere with wreaths. So I decided to go with a very simple round garland of Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense). Chinese privet is terribly invasive in our area so I had no qualms about hacking it back to get a bucketful of stems. Of course, any evergreen would work; visit your local Christmas tree lot and ask for their bottom branch trimmings for a fragrant pine or spruce wreath. Cut the stems to about 12 inches and gather them into bundles of five or six wired together at the base. Then wire the bundle to the frame. Wire the next bundle on top and about 3 inches down. Continue layering the bundles until you can tuck the cut stems of the last bundle under the tips of the first bundle. Simply hanging the dark green wreath on a bright red door over the elaborate knocker gives it all the seasonal dazzle it needs for a Christmas at the beach.

 

 
Charming Birdseed Wreath
$13


 

 

 

Materials:

Thrift Store
• Embroidery Hoop $2

Hardware Store
• Dark Birdseed $4
• Light Birdseed $4
• Elmer’s Glue x 2 $3
• Rope $4

Home
• Hot Glue and Gun $0
• Cardboard $0
• Cardboard Cuter $0
• Small Paintbrush $0

 

This is a great wreath to make with kids. Technically, I spent a little more than $13, but there was so much birdseed leftover I used it in our backyard bird feeder. I wanted the wreath to be an oval, but those are hard to draw, so an old oval embroidery hoop from the thrift store was the solution. I used it to draw an oval on a piece of cardboard and then I drew another smaller oval about 5 inches inside the first. I cut out the oval wreath and used it to trace a second oval on another piece of cardboard, ensuring that the “grain” of the cardboard corrugation ran the opposite way. I glued the two ovals together for rigidity, then used a pencil to freehand a scroll pattern on one side. My husband, Max, painted Elmer’s Glue (which is nontoxic to birds) on the scroll pattern and sprinkled a mix of dark birdseed over it. Once it was dry he shook the extra, unglued seeds off, painted the rest of the wreath with glue, and added light birdseed. We finished it by hot gluing a rustic rope border and loop. We’ll hang this one outside near a window (in a spot where rain can’t soak it) and watch the birds enjoy their winter treat!

 

 

 
Lumberjack’s Welcome Wreath
$9


 

 

 

Materials:

Hardware Store
• 1/2” x 3” Board $2.50

Thrift Store
• Frame $0.50
• 3 Votives $3
• Plaid Shirt $3

Home
• Hot Glue and Gun $0
• 4 Screws $0
• Buddy with a Saw $0
• Tea candles $0
• Wood Stain $0

Garden

• Fallen limb $0

 

Picture frames make great square wreaths and when I found a ghastly nature scene in a sturdy frame on sale for 48¢, I knew it was a bargain. Of course, when I got home my husband said, “Hey, that’s a nice picture of the Grand Tetons!” Ugh, I’m considering revoking his decorating votes. I had a friend with a table saw do me a favor and slice a fallen branch into “tree cookies” about ½” to ¾” thick. I hot glued the round pieces around the frame and Max added the little shelf on the bottom for a variety of candleholders. Strips of a plaid flannel shirt make a rustic bow and hanging loop. Remember to keep a close eye on burning candles or use flameless battery candles instead. The wreath is heavy so it will need to hang from a sturdy hook or you could prop it in front of a mantle mirror or windowsill for a flickering reflection.


Also Try:

 
Neo-Industrial Colonial Apple Wreath
$31


 

 




Materials: 

Hardware Store
• 1 piece Gutter Guard $2
• 5 Downspout Leaf Guards $10
• 22-Gauge Wire $2.50

Grocery Store
• 9 Red Apples $6
• 6 Green Apples $4.50

Craft Store
• Red Ribbon $2
• Green Ribbon $1
• Novelty Paperclips $3

 

OK, so this one wasn’t under $15, but it is one of my favorites and it’s the most nutritious. The original idea was to create an old-fashioned Colonial apple wreath in which you hammer nails into a board and then jab apples onto the nails in an attractive arrangement. Unfortunately, my husband and I couldn’t quite master the technique and we just ended up massacring a bag of innocent apples. So the unfortunate fruit went into the compost pile and we went back to the hardware store for inspiration. Max came up with the idea of using wire grate as the base and when he found the downspout leaf guards (which are perfectly shaped to hold an apple), we knew we had found a great idea. We used wire to attach the downspout guards to the gutter guard to create five little pockets. We alternated Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples in the pockets and finished the whole thing off with bright red and green ribbon to complement the apple colors. The ribbon is held on with giant novelty paperclips that look a lot like Santa’s belt buckle!

 

(From State-by-State Gardening November/December 2011. Photos by Maxwell Burdick.)

Posted November 2011

 


Melissa Burdick is the curator of herbaceous plants at the Norfolk Botanic Garden.

 

       

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