Getting your wreath right this Christmas

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Wreaths celebrate the textures and colours of Christmas. In Ancient Rome, they were deemed status symbols – gladiators and commanders were awarded ones made from laurel leaves and olive branches. When they weren’t wearing their prizes, they would hang them in their homes, often on front doors to inform passers-by of their victories. Instead of traditional crowns, their rulers wore wreaths crafted from pure gold; similar adornment was prevalent in Ancient Greece and other early civilisations. Yet, it was the 16th century Northern and Eastern Europeans that began hanging them at Christmas. They would trim large fir trees to fit their interiors and turn the excess branches into advent wreaths.

Nowadays, wreaths remain a coveted seasonal accessory. They help balance the dreariness tied to the colder months of the year – a beautiful wreath on a front door will certainly compensate for disagreeable winter weather. They let you embrace your creative side and offer more ways to decorate. If you’d like to pick up a few tips on featuring them in your home, including what size to choose and suggestions on hanging, read on.

Should I choose a real or faux wreath?

Unless you live near a flower store or are naturally green-fingered, individual stems are tricky to get hold of – online florists usually sell them exclusively in bunches. One advantage of faux stems is that they are readily available.

Another reason to choose faux foliage is it creates less mess; you won’t be forever cleaning up piles of pine needles. Additionally, faux stems last a long time. To ensure your real foliage lasts for as long as possible, buy as fresh as you can and give the stems a spray with a misting bottle every so often.

If your wreath is going inside your home, a downside of lookalikes is that they have no fragrance. Adding real sprigs of lavender and eucalyptus helps create a sense of calm, and orange pomanders and pine branches capture that delectable Christmas scent. Another option is to recreate your favourite aromas with candles or diffusers instead.

Homemade wreaths require several stems. Purchasing single faux flowers and sprigs in bulk isn’t the most cost-effective option unless you plan on bringing your wreath out every Christmas. If you change your decorations annually, finding a pre-made faux wreath and customising it with new stems might be a better approach.

Selecting the right wreath size

First, decide where to display your wreath. If it will be welcoming you home, something to be aware of is that its sides shouldn’t touch your front door frame. You don’t want clothing and bags catching as you enter and leave your house.

For perfect, central placement, larger wreaths should hang close to the top of the door, whereas smaller wreaths are happy to be hung a bit lower.

Measure your door in advance to ensure a comfortable fit. Wreaths are made in different shapes and sizes, so even if your door has unconventional proportions, you’ll likely find something suitable. Most are circular, but half-moon wreaths, with greenery covering only one side, are becoming popular. Though unusual and tricky to track down (unless you’re making your own), heart and star-shaped wreaths undoubtedly stand out from the crowd and you’ll even notice doors festooned with triangles.

Factor any quirks your door has into the positioning of your wreath. They can be tied directly to traditional knockers or used to frame door windows.

What is the best way to hang a wreath?

There are many ways to hang wreaths. Widespread options include resting them on nails and using ribbon to attach them to fixtures. If you don’t want to fill in the hole created by a nail at a later date, purchase specialist wreath hangers, magnets or command hooks. Choose an over-the-door hanger that already looks like a decoration, complete with a silver star or snowflake, or an adjustable one which allows you to experiment with placement.

Using wreaths indoors

The more festive additions, the merrier – get creative with both a Christmas tree and a wreath. However, if a tree doesn’t work in your space or you can’t have one because of pets, wreaths make excellent alternatives.

Hang different sizes at alternate lengths to create a unique display or suspend identical ones from windows for a balanced look. If there’s a big, blank wall going spare, save prints and mirrors for the new year and instead opt for a large wreath that acts as a focal feature. For a wintry take on a chandelier, turn your wreath on its side and suspend it from ribbon attached to a ceiling fixture.

Place twinkling LED candles in the centre of your wreaths for an elegant table decoration, or hang one from a mirror, mantelpiece or window; wherever there’s room.

They aren’t just for Christmas. If you want to turn yours into an Easter decoration, swap berries and holly sprigs for ceramic eggs and spring flowers. For an autumn wreath, use conkers and leaves in warm rust shades as embellishments.

To light or not to light

This is a matter of personal taste. Designed to look as natural and minimal as possible, OKA wreaths don’t come with an added glow. Nonetheless, if you enjoy creating a festive feel with fairy lights, relax in the knowledge that LED-adorned configurations are easy to find. Personalise your wreath with battery-powered string lights if you can’t find a pre-lit one that ticks all your boxes; its abundant foliage will conceal the power pack. Seek out a showerproof set if you’re taking things outside.

How to make a wreath from scratch

There’s a myriad of pre-made wreaths, ready and waiting to radiate verdant Christmas cheer. Up for a project? Here’s how to fashion one of your very own.

You’ll need the following: a wreath frame, craft wire (any colour will do, as this won’t be visible in the design), ribbon, wire cutters and scissors for trimming stems. There are all kinds of wreath frames available; single hoops are suitable for minimal designs and double hoops fit plenty of foliage. Once you’ve got everything organised, pick your greenery, flowers and decorations.

There are no rules when it comes to choosing the elements of a wreath. If you’re creating one with real foliage, visit nearby woods where you can forage for pine cones and branches. You might also find inspiration closer to home in your local park or back garden. If you’re going faux, why not treat your arrangement to some exotic stems or give the artificial flowers in your collection a new lease of life?

The decoration doesn’t stop at flowers and greenery. If you enjoy winter scents, some dried oranges or cinnamon sticks are a welcome addition. Berries are perfect for classic Christmas wreaths, but for a unique approach, consider accessorising with feathers, shells or beads.

As soon as the materials are primed, plan your layout before putting everything together. Place the wreath frame on a blank surface and roughly arrange the foliage and decorations on top, until you find an arrangement you’re happy with. Use the camera on your phone to photograph your layout in case something gets knocked out of place.

There are numerous approaches to wreath making, but we like to start by cutting flowers and greenery to size then grouping them into short, even bunches. Take your first bunch and use the craft wire to attach it to the wreath frame, with the stems facing upwards. Next, take another bunch and tie it higher up the wreath. Ensure the first bunch overlaps the stem of the second slightly, to hide the wire tie. Keep adding the mini bunches until you have foliage fully covering the frame, or half of it if you’d like a crescent moon wreath. Finish with a ribbon or use extra craft wire to add further flourishes.

If you have something specific in mind or want to research the different methods in detail, it’s worth scrolling through the many video guides available online.

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Topics: christmas

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