Take 7 > Wreaths

More Bo by Bo Concept > Ultra chic and ultra stylish are the words that fit this wreath’s description. If you’re a fan of glitter but not in the mood to go overboard with your door decoration, this one is definitely for you. Not too big, not too small, it’s a distinctive embellishment that would work better on light coloured front doors. A bit pricey but Bo’s products are known to last, like, forever. Price: £49.

Terrano Mobili > When I asked the nice lady at Terrano Mobili if they have any wreaths this year, it came as a surprise when she handed me a head. What an excellent idea! If you’re tired of the same old thing every year and need a change, I suggest you hurry to Terrano and bag yourself a Father Christmas. The detail on this decoration is unbelievable and worth every penny! Price: £25 (Terrano has a 25% discount on all products until the end of December).

Habitat > Habitat always begs to differ in whatever they do and this year is no exception. If you’re anything like me and love everything shiny and bright for the holidays, then take a look at this one. The wreath is made up of tiny lights, but you do need to plug it in. Although you’ll probably need to tuck the wire away to the side of the door, it’s a joy to look at and people will know you’re well in the spirit. Price: £23.

Debenhams > It’s the store we all love for it’s variety and especially now that it’s that time of year. The store is packed with Christmas goodies and decorations and their wreaths are to die for. Despite my eagerness for strange, modern decorations, I felt this one was the cutest of the lot. Maintaining the traditional wreath design, the base is actually made of soft wooden branches and it’s adorned with miniature figures of snowmen and Father Christmas. Simple yet clever, I would definitely hang this one on my front door. Price: £10.

Ozi > One of those rare wonders that provide women with lovely, elegant, handmade decorations for their home, Ozi is a store you would absolutely love. Shelves packed with all sorts of candles and bowls full of tiny decorations, everything is handmade and that includes the wreaths. Out of all the wonderful ones there I picked out this one because it was the only one that had a welcome sign on it. But that’s not the only reason; if you take a look at it, you will notice the beautiful detailed bows and gold netting that make it an eye-catching piece. Price: £25. Tel: 22 487164.

Warehouse > Very similar to Ozi, this is also one of those shops that stock beautiful ornaments for the home and the cheapest handmade candles I’ve ever seen. But come Christmas, they bring out every decoration item under the sun that can give a house that special holiday touch. The wreaths are magnificent and again handmade; this one is one of those classic beauties with touches of gold and ivory for those of you who prefer more earthy tones than modern. Price: £26. Tel: 22 329798.

Diakosmos > I fell in love with this one-of-a-kind wreath as soon as I saw it. Of course, you could say that it doesn’t even look like a wreath but it’s perfect for those of you who want to avoid Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen and anything usual hanging on your front door. This is unusual, very artistic and would make an outstanding impression on both your visitor and you as it is ridiculously cheap! Gorgeous and cheap? All I can say is wow! Price: £15. Tel: 26 272414.

Get that green house effect with wreaths > II

The faux route > Some artificial wreaths are still indescribably cheap looking, but in general the makers of faux wreaths have raised the standard in the past three years.

The faux offerings include a spruce wreath that has subtle differences in tones of green and a white pine wreath that includes the brown needles one associates with pines at this time of year.

A fresh, conditioned wreath may remain that way for two to three weeks indoors, its decline is hastened in hot, dry rooms and near fireplaces or heating registers and by a lack of sealant. If you want a fresh wreath for a party in early December, consider replacing it near Christmas with another you have purchased early and kept cool.

You can find wreath frames that will keep live greens watered, but generally those are not found in ready-made wreaths. Haynie says one of the most effective forms is a ring of Oasis foam that is moistened and then wrapped.

It is also worth noting that a fresh wreath sandwiched between a door and a glazed storm door will cook in its own greenhouse. Put it on the outer door or to the side.

On wreaths > A wreath loses its cheer once the needles curl and the berries start to fall. Keep it fresh with these steps:

  • Cut greenery now before it dries in the cold December winds. Or buy it early before it dries out on store shelves. Hose the greens well and keep them in plastic trash bags in a cold room until needed. The day before use, re-cut the stems and soak for several hours in warm water.
  • Soak a ready-made wreath and store it in a plastic bag, as with fresh greens, until time to decorate and hang. Soak and allow to drain before use.
  • Deciduous holly (sometimes called ilex) berries hold up well, especially if the stems are stored in water before use. American holly soon dries and drops its berries unless treated: Remove the leaves and spray the berries with a florist’s glaze. Allow to dry and repeat three times.
  • Dried or fresh, herbs add fragrance and natural beauty to wreaths. Buy young fresh herbs in small pots, shake off much but not all of the soil, place the root ball in a small sandwich bag secured with a rubber band, and work the plant into the wreath in a way that hides the bag. Lavender, rosemary, sage and tarragon are all good candidates for this. Check their root balls weekly and add more water to the bag if needed.

Get that green house effect with wreaths > I

Wreaths and, for do-it-yourselfers, the makings of wreaths are everywhere.

Fancy greens and embellishments arrived at garden centers and florists, and even at mass merchandisers. Christmas tree lots, where wreath greens are a thriving sideline, are setting up, and soon every supermarket in the land will offer greenery of some stripe.

For some, late November is too soon to hang the fragrant and abundant boughs so evocative of the Christmas Season. But even for those purists, now is the time to at least gather the greenery.

Concerning Christmas trees, the experts offer this advice: Buy one now, make a fresh cut when you get it home and place it in a large container of water in a cool area. Then bring it in a couple of weeks later. If you wait until mid-December to buy it, that same tree will have been in a cold, windy lot, out of water and getting drier by the day.

The same counsel goes for wreath greens. Cut greens can be re-cut and kept in pails of water for a couple of weeks. Although it is impractical to re-cut the stems of ready-made wreaths, soaking the wreaths in water and keeping them in a cool area until ready for use will extend their life as well.

The wreath world falls into two camps. One of them sees the crafting of wreaths as a creative release from the humdrum of daily life, a way to embrace the holiday spirit. The other group sees it as just one more burden of perfection in a harried existence.

The wreath rebels have a couple of choices (three if you include a boycott): Get an artificial wreath (from the tacky at $3.99 to the marvelous at $399) or buy a simple fresh wreath and add the finishing touches yourself.

To a basic wreath of white pine, boxwood or yew, Don Haynie, an herbalist and  florist  expert, suggests adding dried and fresh herbs and some nandina berries. Or adding Spanish moss, sheet moss or lichen called reindeer moss, with some rose hips “and even some pieces of curly willow.

To gild the wreath, he suggests taking some dried yellow yarrow, a summer perennial, and combining it with pine cones and oak leaves that have been pressed and lightly sprayed with gold paint.

However, you can personalize a wreath any way you want. Feel free to forage from your own yard or, with permission, a neighbor’s.

What’s more, no one is stopping you from adding artificial material to the mix. In fact it might be prudent, because live fruit and berries can be notoriously difficult to keep from falling, especially if the wreath is displayed indoors. But do pick good fakes, there is a distinct difference in the look between cheap “berries” and more expensive ones.

> use your hands! + lips, tongue and mouth!

editor’s choices > use your hands! + lips, tongue and mouth!

Berries-and-Ivy Wreath > Fashion a wreath of silk ivy and sugar plums to welcome guests and to ring in the New Year.

What you will need >

  • Scissors
  • 2 6-foot coils of artificial ivy garland
  • Pencil
  • 1 16-inch green foam wreath
  • Hot-glue gun and hotmelt adhesive
  • Artificial sugared berries in assorted sizes and colors
  • Wire-edge ribbons (metallic gold and burgundy brocade)
  • Floral wire

Instructions >

1. Snip the ivy leaves from each coil, leaving about 1/4 inch of stem. Separate the leaves into small, medium, and large sizes.

2. Draw a continuous centered line all around the front of the wreath ring. Hot-glue the large leaves to the ring one at a time. Glue the first leaf just to the left of the center line. Glue the second leaf to the right of the line, overlapping half of the first leaf.

3. Continue adding pairs of large leaves, working from side to side and overlapping the stem half of the first leaf pair with the tip half of the second pair. Continue overlapping the layers to cover the front of the ring.

4. Cover the outer edge of the ring with medium-size leaves. Place each leaf next to a large leaf. To conceal any bare areas that might show when the wreath is hung, glue one leaf on top of another, overlapping the stem half of the first leaf with the tip half of the next leaf.

5. Hot-glue the small leaves on the inner side of the ring as directed for the medium-size leaves in Step 3.

6. Hot-glue berries just under the tips of the ivy leaves.

7. Fashion a bow with streamers from the two ribbons. Glue berries to some ribbon loops; then glue the bow to the wreath. Attach a wire hanging loop.

More Ideas >

  • Coordinate an ivy garland with the wreath, adding sugared berries and ribbon bows.
  • Decorate wired silk ivy with sugared berries to wrap around tall glass candleholders.

Wreaths > Eternity’s Decoration

More than just a decorative touch for your wall or door, wreaths have existed in various forms since the time of the ancient Romans. Whether the wreath you hang is a crafter’s masterpiece or a homemade hand-made down, it has a long tradition of meaning behind it. Wreaths are an eternal part of the festive season.

In ancient Greece a laurel wreath was awarded to victors in sporting events. In the way that we now award gold medals, the wreath was a sign of victory. It meant much the same to the ancient Romans, a sign of victory over challengers.

Religiously, the advent wreath has a place in Catholic tradition. This special wreath is created with four candles, each a different color. One candle is lit each Friday of Advent with a prayer. In this, the wreath represents the coming if the Christmas celebration. Scandinavian wreaths also feature candles. The candles light the winter night’s and are a sign of hope for the future light of spring. It was believed the wreath and candles would encourage the god of light to turn the world towards the sun once more.

The tradition of the wreath extends further back than the beginnings of Christian tradition. Pagan rituals of mid-winter often featured a wreath of evergreen with 4 candles. The candles were placed in each of the four directions, representing the elements of earth, wind, water and fire. Rituals were preformed to ensure the continuance of the circle of life.

Much symbolism can be attributed to the Christmas wreath. The shape of a circle has no beginning and no ending. This may represent the eternal nature of a god’s love, or the circle of life. Evergreens are used to represent immortality and the victory of life through darkness and challenge. The fact that evergreens live through winter signifies the strength of life.

The decorative value of wreaths is believed to have been derived by ancient tradition. In the way that we use house numbers today, wreaths featuring different floral arrangements were used to identify different families and houses.

Also attributing to the wreath lore is the Roman use of wreaths as signs of victory. It is believed that victors of battles would hang wreaths upon their doors to advertise their status.

Today wreaths are a wonderful decorative touch, both year round and at Christmas time. It is a sign of faith in humanity and life and of victory over life’s challenges. Whether you hang a wreath on the door to welcome visitors, or on the wall to complete a room’s decor the splash of color on a cold winter’s day is sure to add a feeling of warmth, building excitement for the coming season.