Wreath havoc: Your 2012 DIY holiday project

Need a short and sweet DIY project this holiday season? Make a wreath! It’s inexpensive, easy, and sends a message to your friends and neighbors that you’re legit.

Need a short and sweet DIY project this holiday season? Make a wreath! It’s inexpensive, easy, and sends a message to your friends and neighbors that you’re legit, even if there is a constant pile of Amazon boxes beneath your door. Wreaths also make great gifts. They don’t always turn out exactly as planned, but doesn’t swiping leftover greens from Christmas tree farms and lurking around friends’ yards with clippers sound way more fun than buying a wreath at Lowe’s?

This year, my DIY frenemy Martha Stewart tells us in the December issue of Living how to turn “simple materials, like foraged branches and seedpods, into unconventional wreaths…” Give it up, MS. We all KNOW that nothing you do is ever “simple.” Nevertheless you’ve thrown a wreath gauntlet practically at my feet. How can I not pick it up and turn it into something real people with jobs and limited budgets can make?!

So, here goes: the how-to on a wreath that you can make this season, for just under $30, some imagination, and an afternoon.

Because it’s made from things we (mostly) can find in Richmond, we’re making Martha’s magnolia and willow wreath. Michelle at the Flower Market on The Boulevard can help you find willow branches and eucalyptus pods, but if you ask her for a flowering quince branch, she simply will shrug prettily. Consider using lovely, fragrant seeded eucalyptus instead.

Magnolia branches: do not buy them. They are ridiculously expensive. Someone you know probably has one on his or her property. Or you can use camellias or any other broad-leafed plant (in this example, we’ll use camellias because I have five camellia bushes–happy to share!). Clip lots of 12”-16” boughs and stick them in a bucket of water for a day or two beforehand.

Locate some persimmons (I found some at The Fresh Market) and some brown twine and green wire in the wreath section at a craft store, scoffing at the pre-made wire frames as you walk past hollering, “Not this year, boys! I’m making my own frame.”

Which, as it turns out, is not that difficult! Willow branches, which are $12.99 a bundle, are charmingly pliable. You simply bend them into a circle and fasten with brown twine. If it looks a little Blair Witch Project-ish, that’s okay. It’s DIY!

Lash 6”-8”clippings of camellias/magnolias to the frame in overlapping layers until you get your desired amount of lushness. This part can get tedious but hang in there. Commandeer a friend to be your second pair of eyes and to keep the snacks coming.

Once your base greenery is affixed, the fun “trimming” portion begins. Wrestle the eucalyptus away from your cat and insert sprigs to fill in the gaps and provide variety. Finally, poke the green wire through the persimmons and tie them to the frame. If you have some orange-berried Italian Ruscus growing in your yard (or you can get it at The Fresh Market), it complements the persimmon nicely.

Hang on your front door with a wreath hanger or well placed nail, and you’re done! Mist it daily with water and maybe some glycerine oil. It should last a couple of weeks, although the persimmons and berries will need replacing.

If it doesn’t turn out right, there’s nothing that a little silver spray paint and glitter can’t fix. Happy Holidays!

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Lesley Bruno

Lesley Bruno likes to solve other people’s problems, both at work and at home, and is a strategic planning consultant at Floricane.

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