A great way to get into the Christmas spirit early is to prepare by making your own Christmas holly wreath. They look great, are cost effective, easy to make and can be hung outdoors or inside.
Everyone thinks of Christmas at the mere mention of holly, with its beautiful festive reds and greens. Making a wreath is just as easy as wrapping the presents and can be done with natural materials gathered in the garden or local park.
The first thing to do is make your base using the grapevine, willow or flexible wood. Start with 4-5 pieces about 80-100cm in length. Weave them together and secure with twine or string. Continue to weave additional lengths together until you have the desired thickness for your base, this can vary depending on what size you wish to make.
Once you have twisted your vines together they will need to be curved into a circle and the ends tied together. Allow the ends to overlap so as to create an even thickness across the circumference. This will now look like a complete wreath base, ready to decorate.
A ribbon or wire can be used to wrap around the top of the wreath and made into a loop to create a hanger. It is best to attach this before decorating to avoid later difficulties.
A long piece of coloured string can be tied on to make sure you do not lose where your hanger is positioned. The formed loop will need to be strong to withstand any movement, especially if hanging on a door.
Now bundle together some of your chosen foliage. This can really be anything that looks good and catches your eye, and can be collected from your garden, hedgerows or local park. Pick plenty of green foliage to fill out the wreath such as sprigs of ivy, eucalyptus or conifer.
Cut the branches down to 6-10 inches and gather a few from each plant in to a decorative arrangement. Bind the bundle together with florist wire at the base.
Position them onto your wreath, making sure they cover the width of the base and are angled effectively – no 90 degree angles! Attach to the base with more florist wire or string.
Repeat step four working your way around the wreath until almost completely covered. Make sure your foliage is spread evenly, with some gaps to add colourful foliage later.
When attaching the final branch, tuck the tips of the foliage underneath the base of the first fitted arrangement and tie down. Ensure that everything is secured tightly together to avoid any foliage from moving or falling out.
Once you are happy with the arrangement of your base foliage, begin to fill out the gaps by pushing in sprigs of holly berries, dried flowers, rosehips, crab apples or dried citrus fruit. One type or colour of flower can be used, or a combination of varieties.
A good way to place your coloured decorations is in a clock formation with the most appealing items placed at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. Additional decorations can be distributed lightly and evenly in between them.
After you have positioned and tied on all of your foliage, flowers and berries, prune any stray edges with shears or scissors. Now your wreath is complete! It can be hung on the front door, on the wall inside or out, placed on a mantelpiece or even just leant against something at ground level.
Some other ideas to include on a Christmas wreath are bows, ribbons, baubles, pine cones and mistletoe, or rosemary and roses to add something sweet smelling.
Remember to monitor the condition of your wreath as some foliage and flowers may need replacing in the weeks that it is on display. An alternative is to use plastic replica materials, fabric and a foam base instead and make an all year round wreath!