I started making my own wreaths a few years ago when we bought our first home. I went into this super-domestic crazy mode for our first Christmas there, including making my own gingerbread houses, masterpiece Christmas cookies, garland for every surface, and of course – a wreath. Out of everything, the wreath was definitely the easiest – just a simple red ribbon as decoration – and it gave me cheer well into the winter after Christmas was over. :) I’ve made one every year since!
This Christmas, why not try your hand at making a wreath of your own? Without decoration, this wreath will only cost you about $8-$10! Just check out my step by step instructions below and in a little over an hour, you can have your very own homemade wreath! Be sure to check out my budget tips at the end to keep your costs low and your wallet happy!
* pine branch trimmings – for an 18″ wreath you’ll need 5-8 large wide branches which you’ll cut down to size, but it’s always better to have too many than not enough. You can always use the extra for other things – see my tips below.
* hedge trimmers, or really, REALLY heavy scissors
* sturdy gloves
* wire wreath frame – mine is 18″
* zip ties
* green florist wire
* wire snips or scissors
* green florist tape, optional
* decorations (or not, if you like it plain and simple) – try my easy homemade bow!
Start with a pile of pine branches. If you are so inclined, pick one up and hold it like a feather fan, reenacting the “Sisters, Sisters” musical number from “White Christmas.” I promise not to judge – that would be hypocritical…
Anyway, you won’t need nearly as many branches as I have pictured here… I went a little crazy at the tree farm. Hahahaha! Likely, you will only need about 5-8 good sized wide branches, but I recommend getting a few extra just in case. Always better to have extra…
And your supplies:
Some good hedge clippers and a pair of sturdy gloves.
A wire wreath frame in your choice of size. The one I used is 18″ and makes what I think to be the perfect sized wreath for a front door. It cost $3.99 at my local craft store.
For securing the branches, you’ll need some zip ties, floral wire (green is best for this project), some green floral tape (optional, and only if you want to cover the color of your zip ties – I actually ended up not using mine), and some wire snips (or a good pair of scissors, or both). And don’t forget your choice of decoration. I used some battery powered lights and a homemade bow, but you can use whatever you like.
Don’t forget to put some Christmas tunes on. For me, Bing is an absolute must!
Also make sure to have a sassy cat nearby to supervise and critique…
Start by cutting yourself some pieces of floral wire 3-4 inches a piece, and some longer at about 6-7 inches. You’ll use these to secure the tips of any wonky branches that don’t hang the way you want. I like to have the wire cut ahead of time so I can just grab a piece when I need it. My scissors were a little easier to hold than my wire snips, so I grabbed those for this part.
Next, use your hedge clippers to trim the big branches down to size. You’ll want about 10-15 pieces the size you see above. You’ll also want several smaller ones to fill in later on, so cut some of those as well. Usually, there is a combo of larger and smaller ones on a single big branch.
I cut all my pieces before I start forming the wreath. That way, I don’t have to stop and cut every few minutes.
Once I have my pile of pieces cut, I choose several and laid them down over the form to see approximately where I want each one. This “pre-layout” is optional, but I like to do it so I can see how the shapes of the individual branches best fit together. Once you have it basically the way you want, pick a starting branch and set the others aside.
Set the wire frame on a table, curved side up, making it easy to hold the branches. Position your first branch to the left side so that it starts to curve naturally around the wire form. (See the picture a few steps prior to this one for the full view one how I laid it down on the form)
Secure with a zip tie, making sure that you tighten it all the way. My zip ties only had “teeth” on one side, so I had to make sure I was correctly inserting the tie through the catch each time.
Use your scissors or wire snips to cut off the rest of the zip tie. My snips worked better than my scissors for this part. Here would be where you would use a bit of the florist tape to cover the zip tie, but only if you are REALLY picky. For time’s sake, I didn’t use any this year as I had in year’s past, and by the end every single zip tie was covered by other branches.
Now, rotate the frame clockwise a bit and repeat the previous 3 steps to secure another branch on top of the one you just did, overlapping that first branch by about 6 inches. You will end up covering the first zip tie with the top part of the branch you just put down.
Keep going all the way around the frame until you have the wire frame all covered. For that last branch, just lift up the tip of the very first branch and secure it underneath. Note how I used some branches with their backside facing up, so the light green shows instead. You don’t have to do this, but I like the varied look.
Once you get the whole frame covered, lift up the wreath and take a look, making sure any really loose top pieces are secure. Don’t worry about a just few semi-loose pieces, as you will still be adding another layer of branches and that will help secure some of the wonky ends.
If you need to tie some down, take a piece of your pre-cut wire and form it into the shape of a “U.”
Push the u-shaped wire from the back, through to the front, around the piece you need to secure. Tie it up like a bread tie.
Your wreath should look pretty much like a wreath at this point. But, we aren’t done yet. You’ll probably notice a few bare spots where it could be filled in a bit.
To fill in bare spots, choose a smaller piece of branch that fits and looks how you like it. Take one of the longer pieces of wire that you cut earlier and form it into a “u.” This time, push the wire through from front to back over the branch, tying in the back like a bread tie.
Now your wreath should look really full and have no bare spots!
On to the decorating! Because I am using battery-powered lights, I needed to secure my battery pack to the wire frame. I cut an extra long piece of wire and secured it just like I did the branches. I would’ve used a zip tie, but mine weren’t quite long enough.
Then I tucked the lights around the wreath. If you need to secure the lights, you can use some more of your wire pieces.
Next, I made a bow out of some wire ribbon – I chose a shimmery burlap. To make your own ribbon, follow my really easy bow tutorial. Or, just buy one – I won’t tell! When hung, my ribbon will cover the battery pack for my lights – sometimes I’m really smart like that! I waited though, to add the bow until I hung it on the door. That way, I didn’t smush it.
I hung my wreath on the door with the battery pack at the bottom so it would be less likely to fall off the wreath. Then, I added the ribbon, tying it to a nearby branch and fluffing the loops and tails into a shape that looked nice.
* For FREEfresh pine boughs, head to your local Home Depot. They have huge pallet boxes of the trimmings they cut when someone buys one of their fresh trees. One day when I was perusing the Christmas decor, I noticed the boxes and asked how much it would be to take some home. To my surprise the answer was FREE and we didn’t even buy our tree from them! They just let me load up my trunk and go. The next year, I asked at our favorite tree farm, and they also let me take some home for free. Some tree farms (especially those who make their own wreaths to sell) may charge a small fee, but the added cost should be minimal.
* The most simple (and cheapest!) decoration is a bow, and it only takes minutes to make your own. So elegant! Learn how with my easy homemade bow tutorial. Don’t feel like making your own? You should be able to find beautiful, fairly inexpensive, handmade bows at your local craft store (near their silk floral section) – clip a coupon and it gets even cheaper. :)
* For ribbon, lights, and other decorative items – wait until after the holidays are over and LOAD UP! I bought my battery powered lights a few days after Christmas and got them for 75% off, making them $2.50! You will find tons of ribbon, decorative holly and other festive silk items at your local craft store. Check Target and home improvement stores for lights and other decor.
BTW, with the gazillion leftover branches I had, I added an extra festive (and CHEAP) touch to my family room by decorating the tops of the art on the walls. :) “Re-bi-cycling” at its best!