Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on November 29, 1999. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Homemade Wreaths Trigger Holiday Spirit
By Norman Winter
Central Mississippi Research & Extension Center
If the Santa Clauses dancing to the boogie woogie or some Christmas rock song has left you feeling a little artificial, then the prescription you may need is to spend a little time outdoors collecting materials to let you make a home-style holiday wreath.
Sprigs of greenery from an eastern red cedar or leyland cypress, tallow tree seed clusters, magnolia leaves with fruit pods, pine cones and holly berries are just a few of the materials that are easy to work with and fun to collect.
To make a holiday wreath, get a 16-inch grapevine wreath which will be the basis for your natural holiday project. If you are the industrious type, you can harvest your own grapevine from the wild or from a small muscadine planting.
These grapevine wreaths are a lot easier to work with than you might imagine. Push the foliage-free ends through the wreath until they are secure. Progress clockwise around the circle creating fullness in the outside and inside edges. Strive for a plump appearance.
Additional options for this filler material include magnolias, hollies like the Mary Nell, all kinds of junipers and tallow trees, which in Mississippi are often called popcorn trees. Pine trees also yield great greenery. You will be pleasantly surprised how long much of the foliage retains its color.
Using florist wire, fasten pine cones in clusters of two or three at the 12 o'clock or 6 o'clock position on the wreath. Another option that looks great is to position them equal distances apart at about three locations on the wreath.
Then add clusters of tallow, holly or nandina berries to fill in empty areas and to create a balanced look. Many people overlook the white tallow tree seeds as a source of color. My wife, Jan, helped me make wreaths for the Southern Gardening television segment, and I can emphatically say that the old-fashioned nandina berries really create a visual holiday impact by letting them cascade downward in the center hole of the wreath.
The burr oak produces absolutely gigantic acorns that are also perfect for the wreath. These acorns are so large people are always bringing them in and wondering what kind oak it is.
The sweet gum balls that cause so much consternation from the barefooted public, look great spray painted with the 24-karat gold paint. These can then be placed all around the wreath.
Another neat idea, especially if you want to show off that you are a gardener, is to add a little feature such as a small clay pot or hand trowel
Finish the wreath by adding a decorative bow. The finished product measures 24 inches in diameter and will be a sign of welcome to your family and friends over the holidays.
All of the items work perfectly to create not only a wreath but a swag that could be placed above the door or a window, as well as adding an outdoor touch inside over the mantle.
There are a lot of materials perfect for a wreath, and even a beginner can easily complete the project. Take a walk in the woods and start collecting. Happy Holidays!