With Bing Crosby blaring in my car, I drive through the humble hills in the far eastern suburbs of Cleveland. I pass by century homes with white picket fences and small piles of snow pushed to the sides of driveways. This is an outing I make every year for one of my favorite holiday traditions at my friend Terry’s authentic and cozy farm house.
Several years ago, Terry started holding a wreath making workshop in her yard. A florist by trade, she mixes fresh greens she orders wholesale with branches and greenery she cuts from her own yard. Her husband tends the bonfire in big steel drums while her chickens cluck around behind us.
“Make it wild!” she instructs us.
Year after year, we all start out by griping “I don’t know what I’m doing.” But within an hour, the group of about 30 or 40 people come out with gorgeous creations, no two the same. This creativity is just part of the hook. Once you put a fresh, fragrant work of art on your front door or over your fireplace, you will never go faux again.
It’s not that difficult either. I’ve used the skills Terry taught me to make a wreath for every season. I’ve used sticks from my yard or greenery from the grocery store.
First, Terry has us start with a wire wreath base, concave side down. These are typically dark green, circular and have 3 tiers of wire. You can get them on Amazon or at any craft store.
You’ll also need green florist wire to wind around your greenery to hold it into place. Tie the end of the wire to the wreath base by threading the end of the wire through the middle tier of the wreath base and twisting it in place.
We always start with the sturdy branches she cuts from her own pine trees in her yard. Any sort of “wispy” branch is fun, but make sure to mix in the classic Frasier Fir. If you get a real tree, save those extra branches they cut off before it gets tied to your car.
The method to start? Wind the wire around the branch about twice loosely (don’t strangle the branch). Keep adding the base layer of your sturdy branches with all of the clippings going in the same direction (clockwise or counter clockwise).
Next, Terry always incorporates some cedar branches (my favorite). These are the most fragrant of the layers and I love the varying colors. With cedar, you can get a few branches that are more green, some have a bluish silver tint to them. I like to even flip some of the branches upside down as I mix them in to get the different shades and depth.
This year, Terry bought seeded eucalyptus to incorporate after the cedar layer. I picked through and found a few branches with hints of maroon along the stems, leaves and seeds. Because of this, I wanted to play off of the pinks and muted tones for my wreath.
I spied a few branches of Blue Dried Echinops Globe Thistle that Terry said she bought and I hoarded them for myself. Terry told me later, she knew I’d love those and incorporate them.
At this point, my wreath has so much wire wound around it, I tend to stick branches into wire that’s already there. I feel like adding this way helps secure what’s already in place.
I’m a total sucker for a pheasant feather in holiday decor. So, I added several around the thistle bulbs, making them stick out. At this point, I have just one spot to the lower right section of the wreath where I add all of my “detail”.
I felt like the wreath needed one more unique piece to make it pop and stand out from other holiday wreaths. Terry offered me a couple of dried coral cockscomb. The color played beautifully off of the seeded eucalyptus!
Big bows? I’m over them. Instead, we tied a simple maroon velvet ribbon folded once. We used the florist wire to secure it in place.
All the way home, my car smelled like fresh cedar. And when I hung it on the front door, the wild branches seemed to fall perfectly.
Leave a message if you try this project for yourself! I dragged my friend, Nicole, with me to make a wreath and as she said at the end of the day “Once you go fresh, you’ll never go back.”