Collecting my Christmas wreath material is a yearly tradition. I’ll “shop” in my backyard for juniper and cedar branches. Some years I’ll include Frasier fir stems cut from the bottom of my Christmas tree or pine boughs I’ve purchased at my local garden center. I like to include more than one type of greenery to add a variety of textures. At the same time, I’m also gathering branches for my winter urn, another DIY I look forward to creating.
Wreath making is usually a pretty chilly task to do outside, especially if you’re trying to twist fine florist wire around each branch that you add. I’ll bundle up to make the container outside. But for the wreath, most years I’ll set up shop on the living room floor, spreading my branches out on top of newspaper, so I can easily choose what I need as I work through my DIY craft with a cup of hot tea close at hand.
In this article, I’ll share options for Christmas wreath material, including some of my favorite greenery and accessories, so you can get a jumpstart on the holiday season.
Start with a wreath form and gather tools
Having some type of base on which you can build your wreath—a wire or plastic form, or one made from a natural, long-lasting material, such as willow or grapevine—make it easy to begin assembly. They all come in different sizes, so you can easily choose the right dimensions for your door.
My mom has saved wire forms from pre-made natural wreaths she’s purchased in the past. They come in handy when she wants to make her own! And a writing colleague once explained how she uses the strong vine-like tentacles of Virginia creeper to make her wreath frame.
My favorite frame isn’t actually a standard classic wreath form at all. Several years ago while on a business trip, I happened across a metal poinsettia wreath that was made to hold Christmas cards. I never used it for that purpose, but add a few cedar and fir branches and voilà: A living wreath with built-in decorations.
Green florist wire helps to attach your branches and will remain camouflaged once you’ve twisted each piece in place. Be careful because it’s sharp! Have a pair of strong scissors or wire cutters on hand to cut each length to size. I usually try to snip a few at a time, so I can easily grab and twist. In the absence of wire, I’ve also attached Christmas wreath material using small pieces of garden twine that I tie strategically to remain hidden.
Selecting your Christmas wreath material
As I mentioned, I like to browse my backyard for most of the branches in my wreath. I have a LOT of Eastern white cedar (Thuja occidentalis) aka arborvitae, as well as what I think are Eastern red cedars (Juniperus virginiana), so I have lots of options to selectively snip.
It’s always fun to mix things up, so I’ll often purchase something extra to add. My local garden centers and even the supermarket are well-stocked with a variety of evergreen branches in November and December. If you get a live Christmas tree, and you need to remove the bottom branches, those could be used, so as not to go to waste, as well.
I have found that yews don’t make the best Christmas wreath material. While they look lush and green in my garden, they don’t last very long in holiday arrangements. And it’s worth noting the seeds from the berries, the needles, and the bark are toxic to people and pets. So you don’t want any debris potentially being tracked into the house.
Pruning branches for Christmas wreath material
When I’m ready to cut the branches, I make sure to don gardening gloves (or warm gloves I don’t mind getting dirty if it’s especially cold out). I’ll grab a pair of clean, sharp pruners and head to the backyard. There are a few things to keep in mind if you’re clipping your own.
I make sure to snip close to the bottoms of the trees, or errant branches that are sticking out. This is important for pine trees, which prefer to be pruned in the summer. As I cut, I’m aware of anything taking that will benefit the shape of the tree without one being able to tell it’s been “harvested” for holiday greens. Broadleaf evergreens, like boxwood and holly, and conifers, like cedar and juniper, don’t mind a light trimming at this time of year.
Adding accessories to your holiday wreath
Once all the greenery has been added to your wreath, you’re ready to accessorize. This is the fun part because it allows you to add your own personal touches. Look through your cupboards for potential decor materials. Check out your local craft stores. There are endless options for ribbons and bows. Some come with twist ties attached, which makes them super easy to tie on. I use the florist wire to tie these types of elements on, too. I suppose a hot glue gun could come in handy to attach certain accessories.
You could also accessorize with miniature ornaments, cookie cutters, or other Christmas decorations. I like to add natural materials, like pinecones and dried hydrangea blooms, too. Apps like Instagram provide endless inspiration and ideas from fellow DIYers.
Depending on where you display your wreath, you could also intertwine miniature fairy lights throughout the greenery that you can turn on at night to create a warm welcome for guests.
Some tips to help your wreath last
When you’re choosing the materials to use, consider where your wreath is going to go. Will it be exposed to the elements—wind, snow, rain, ice? Will it be sandwiched between a steel or wooden door, and a storm door? Different environmental conditions will determine which materials you use and how you secure them. You may want to consider waterproof ribbon for a wreath that will get consistently wet, for example. And be sure to securely attach anything lightweight, like seed pods or dried hydrangea blooms that could blow away in a strong wind.
More holiday decorating inspiration
- Deck your halls with boughs of boxwood and other nature finds
- Make a holiday swag in five easy steps
- Easy projects for mini holiday houseplants
- Drying herbs and flowers to make gifts from the garden
- Dwarf evergreen trees: 15 exceptional choices for the yard and garden