How to Make a Free Christmas Wreath
Christmas is an expensive time of year for most people, so I try to economise as much as possible. A couple of years ago a friend gave me an idea for how to make a free Christmas wreath, and I've been developing and perfecting the technique ever since.
It so happens, that, as a family we're into nature, so a natural wreath made with bits and pieces from the hedgerow is just up out street. We usually make it in the week leading up to Christmas, and put it up on the door then. Most years, it lasts until twelfth night, even through gales!
The basis of this wreath is Ivy. I keep an eye open on my walks for a long, trailing strand of Ivy, the sort with many branches melded together, so that it is three or four inches wide. These strands can often be found on old stone walls, of which there are plenty around here.
Cut the strand of ivy as long as is possible. Sometimes, I can only find shorter pieces, but that's OK, I will just cut a few of them.
Also on my walks, I'll look out for pine cones and Holly bushes, preferably the female Holly, with red berries on. However, locally there is a variegated bush, with a mixture of green and waxy yellow leaves, which look attractive in a wreath.
Take the Ivy strand and coil it around to form a circle, then fix it into shape by tying or wiring the stalks together from the back. I tend to wire it, because I usually have plenty of garden wire in the garage.
Ivy is not a popular plant right now, and many gardeners cut it down, because of the damage it does to walls, fences, trees etc, so you may not find any with the wide strands, which are ideal. Never mind, just use single strands and plait them together, then join two or three plaits to make a broad strand of Ivy. It is a shame that the plant isn't popular, as the flowers provide important nectar for late insects, when there is little else available for them.
Thread the Holly into the Ivy, so that it's fairly evenly spaced throughout the wreath, then secure this from the back also. We usually have a real Christmas tree, so I tend to use some of the offcuts of this in the wreath too.
Weave string or garden wire around the fattest part of a pine cone, tucking it in so that it's invisible, then secure the cone to the wreath. I usually put three cones to a wreath, but the number is up to you. Odd numbers tend to look best and most attractive to the eye.
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Sometimes, there might be a bit of gold or silver spray paint knocking about in the garage, depending on what craft stuff we've been up to, so I might give the wreath a little squirt of paint, but mostly I prefer to leave them natural.
One finishing touch, which looks attractive is to add bows to the wreath. I'm a bit of a magpie when it comes to sparkly things, and so save every scrap of gift ribbon that comes into the house (much to the annoyance of my partner). These little scraps of ribbon I make into bows and secure them on to the wreath. Quite often they're all different colours, or, like last year, there was just one large bow at the top.
make a loop of wire or string on the back of the bow, so that you can secure it to your door, then enjoy.
If you want a really swanky wreath, you can buy small sets of battery powered fairy lights to weave through it, but they may not stand up to a really wet British winter.
If you're interested in mythical symbolism, you could plan your wreath to include symbolic elements you wish to attract, for example:
Ivy is good for protection and healing.
Holly is good for protection, luck and magic.
Pine is good for healing, protection and money.
Number Three draws creative growth and power
number Five draws change, insight and love.
Who doesn't need some of those things at any time of year. Colours are also symbolic, so you could choose your ribbons accordingly.