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Christmas Wreath Decorating Ideas:
Christmas Wreath Making

Christmas wreath decorating is a fun, creative, and practical holiday activity-- you get something gorgeous to hang in your home, you have a great time, and you save a ton of money on expensive decorations. And because they're so varied, a lot of homemade Christmas wreathes (even fancy-schmancy ones) can be pretty easy to make. Win-win-win, right?

Before you begin trying your hand at making Christmas wreathes, however, there are a few items that you've got to have on hand. These include:

  • Heavy-duty Scissors
  • Hot glue gun and glue
  • Florist's wire
  • Wired ribbon
  • Natural decorative items: flowers (plastic or silk), fruit, branches, nuts, etc.
  • Christmas ornaments in various sizes/colors (based on your desired overall color theme)
  • A wreath foundation (see below)

Additional items that you may or may not end up using include glitter, fake snow, regular ribbon, spray paint, and finishing spray. If you're a regular crafter, you'll have lots of things lying around your home that you can use. Or you can take a trip down to your local craft store to find everything you need for homemade Christmas wreath decorating.

Pre-Made Wreath Foundations for Christmas Wreath Making

Pre-made plain wreaths come in a variety of base materials including natural evergreen, shaped grape vines, fake evergreens, shaped hay/straw bundles etc. The choice is up to you, but if you're looking for longevity you'll probably want to go with a good quality fake evergreen. When doing Christmas wreath decorating, party of the beauty of the imitation wreath base is that you can always take it apart and re-decorate it whenever your holiday colors or motifs change.

Real evergreens shed their needles and I find other types of wreath bases get dirty over time from dust and dirt-- whereas the imitation evergreen can be easily rinsed, too. But choose whichever you like best. And if you're going for unbeatable elegance, always go for fresh evergreen.

Making a Christmas Wreath with a Wire Frame

Making Your Own Wreath Foundations

Here, I'll mostly be talking about how to decorate a pre-made wreath foundation in real or imitation evergreen. But you can also follow these same instructions using a wreath you've made yourself at home! Using a wire wreath frame (like the one pictured above) and florists wire, you can make fresh, natural wreaths for your door or for home decorating every year. Just as with an imitation wreath, you can re-use the wreath frame every year, and always have something fresh, beautiful, natural, and eco-friendly.

One of my favorite things to do for Christmas? Take a hiking trip with my family to collect evergreen branches, holly, pretty branches, pine cones, and other Christmas greenery to make a homemade wreath or two. Then make the family wreaths together. It's a wonderful way to do your Christmas wreath decorating, and it can become a Christmas family tradition, too.

Some good things to attach to a wire wreath frame for Christmas wreath making are:

  • Christmas tree trimmings (extra branches, etc)
  • Fresh evergreen branches
  • Pine cones
  • Branches with berries (or without)
  • Rosemary
  • Fresh holly
  • Colorful, crumpled paper
  • Dried flowers
  • Grapevine or olive branches
  • Small pieces of cloth
  • Walnuts in-shell or Chestnuts
  • Winter fruit (generally plastic-- real doesn't last so long)

Straw Wreaths for Christmas Wreath Bases. When making a wreath entirely from pieces of cloth, paper, pinecones, dried flowers, or similar items, you can also start off with a plain straw wreath and attach those items to the wreath by pushing them into the straw or gluing them.

Christmas Wreath Making: The Decorating

Christmas Wreath Decorating- Making Homemade WreathSo... you've got your fresh or artificial wreath foundation all ready to go (whether you bought one or made it yourself). Now it's time to get decorating!

In a lot of ways, Christmas wreath decorating is actually a bit more challenging than putting up your tree. Because the wreath has a limited amount of surface space, planning your layout is important. Try laying various decorative items out on the wreath, and move them around until you like the overall visual impact. Start with your largest pieces, then add smaller elements afterward. In between these elements there's room for ribbon, pinecones, sprays, etc. (or you could just leave some open space so it doesn't look too crowded).

The Four Main Wreath Types

There seem to be four basic schools of Christmas wreath decorating:

1. The Single-Element Wreath. This version of Christmas wreath making covers the entire wreath foundation (generally a plain straw wreath to start out) with a particular element (like all nuts and pinecones, or all poinsettia blossoms). The only additional element that typically gets added to this kind of arrangement is a bow at the top or bottom.

These are fairly easy wreaths to assemble in that you don't have to worry too much about patterning unless you're adding painted pieces (like silver or gold paint to the tops of nuts). This particular wreath often feels a bit Victorian once completed. A wonderful classic.

Homemade Minimalist Evergreen Wreath2. The Minimalist Christmas Wreath. The second school goes for sparse decoration (minimalist). A little wire ribbon, a bow, and a few small ornamental pieces scatter the top of the wreath-- sort of like leaves on the surface of snow. Once assembled, this wreath has a more modern appeal.

3. The Thematic Wreath. The third school likes a balance between background and elements and may include more than one decorative theme repeated throughout – like stars and berries, or Santas and small boxes. It can be a lot of fun to change this theme from year to year.

4. The Alternative Wreath. An alternative wreath uses items that you might not normally see with traditional evergreen Christmas wreath decorating. With this type of wreath, you can use different materials, like paper or cloth (see pic below), or use branches or berries instead of evergreen. These sorts of wreaths are modern, alternative, elegant, and a lot of fun.

There is no "right or wrong" approach to decorating Christmas wreaths other than what appeals to you. You can go wild and use whatever combinations you see fit.

Ideas for Christmas Wreath Decorating

Christmas Wreath Made from PaperBefore buying your ribbons and key elements, take a moment and look through internet sites and magazines dedicated to decorating for the holidays. You will begin to notice a pattern in what wreaths make you go "oooh!" and which ones leave you flat. Make a note of what you like, and use that to start your shopping list.

Here are just a few ideas of how to decorate your wreath:

Ornamental balls. These come with all kinds of colors and even glitter so all you have to do is wire them in place. In particular, the opalescent ones can be very pretty as they pick up all the other holiday hues around your house.

Bows. Another item that's inexpensive and easy to make or buy. Get little ribbon bows and place them around the wreath. These will likely require glue to stay in place for the whole season.

Christmas fruits. Fruit is such a Christmas-y thing! If using a real or artificial evergreen Christmas wreath, go with bright colors on this (things like dark purple grapes fade right into your background unless they're perched on top of a light colored ribbon). You can also do dried fruits and nuts with a branch or straw wreath, big, bright apples, or whatever you like. The sky's the limit.

Flocking. You can spray on a layer of white so that your foundation looks like it's got fresh snow on it. This allows you to add darker colored elements to the wreath and have them jump out from the background.

You might also want to try using:

  • Autumn Leaves
  • Pine Cones
  • Feathers (or little decorative birds)
  • Festive accents (mini Santa hats or stockings, tiny little presents, etc.)
  • Christmas Bells
  • Candy or Candy Canes (best indoors where they won't get wet)
  • Christmas "cookies" (use homemade dough ornaments)
  • Flowers (silk poinsettias, dried flowers, etc.)
  • Dried Chili Peppers
  • Small Toys (Match-Box cars, Legos, etc-- fun!)

Last but not least, Christmas wreath decorating can be easily accented with the addition of a few twinkle lights. You can get a short set of mini lights to stash all the way around the wreath, or just one central light (like those for a window). This way all the work you've put into your gorgeous Christmas wreath can be seen at night, too!

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Want to plan the perfect Christmas party, cook a special holiday dinner, or just make Christmas cookies with your kids? Visit My Christmas Dinner Party and Decorating Central for lots of great Christmas recipes, plus Xmas planning and decorating ideas.

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