It may be unpopular, but I love it when the weather turns cool and I get to break out my sweaters and scarves. This time of year my home also gets wrapped up with lights, holiday décor and fresh evergreens. Years ago, I owned a flower shop in downtown Bloomington and what I miss most is when truckloads of evergreens were delivered and the whole store smelled of pine, spruce and juniper. For nearly the entire month of December my staff and I would be busy making wreaths, garlands, centerpieces and swags.
Every year I still make a point to go out and buy armfuls of fresh evergreens to bring the wonderful smell of the holidays into my home. I’m sure it can seem intimidating making your own accents, and for those of you out there not up for the task, there are plenty of places in town to purchase your pre-made fresh wreath or garland. If you decide to go this route, you can still make it your own. You can easily hot glue accents into your wreath or garland to personalize them to your own space. Easy accents can be as simple as some shiny red ornaments or spray-painted pinecones. If you are indeed up to the challenge, here are a few of my favorite holiday projects.
This is a very simple project and only requires a few supplies: wire nippers, stem cutter, spool wire, and a variety of fresh evergreens. First, cut down your evergreen branches to 6-inch pieces. To start the garland, gather two or three stems and wire them together, pulling the wire tightly. Now add another stem a few inches below the others, going in the same direction, and pull the wire around the stems, tightening it with each addition. Keep doing this, alternating the evergreen varieties as you go. If you’d like to add some color to your garland you can also add other elements like pine cones, berries or spray-painted greens to add sparkle. Once you get the garland to the desired length turn the last bunch of stems around to finish it off nicely. Garlands make a lovely addition to mantels, tablescapes, kitchen islands and doorways.
To make your own fresh wreath you will need the following supplies: a grapevine wreath (any size), branch cutters, hot glue, and fresh evergreens. For those crafters out there, I find a hot glue pan works even better than a glue gun, so warm up your pans for this project. You’ll need to cut down your evergreen stems to only a few inches. I find it helps to pull off some of the lower needles on each piece to make a bare stem for gluing. Once your glue is all warmed up, simply dip your evergreen stem into the glue pan and nestle it into the grapevine wreath making sure it’s secure. Glue all of your evergreens into the wreath in the same direction and be sure to fill out the inner and outer edges to give it a nice full appearance. Regularly hold the wreath up and look at it from different angles to be sure there aren’t any bare spots. Depending on your personal style you can make this wreath as traditional or as fun as you’d like. You can stay classic by only using different varieties of greens or you can add fun elements like holiday ornaments, feathers or other décor. The more personalized you make your wreath the more your guests will notice and appreciate it.
The same rules apply when making an evergreen arrangement as when you create one with fresh cut flowers. Start with a vase, glass or other watertight container and fill it nearly full of water. Next, use the evergreens to fill up the vase being sure to eliminate needles below the waterline. I prefer a more modern arrangement, so I use a short squat container and keep my evergreens tight and short as well. A good rule of thumb is to keep your flowers and greens no higher than 1 ½ to 2 times taller than the vase. For instance, if the vase is six inches tall, your tallest flower or green should be no taller than nine to twelve inches. Criss-cross the stems as you arrange to create structure and texture in the arrangement. After the arrangement is full of greens, you can either leave it simple or add taller berries, branches or fresh flowers. In the arrangement I did for this season, I added some winterberrry branches and white roses.
If these projects seem a little too much for you, don’t worry. You can simply place cut evergreens on your table or tie them in a bunch with a ribbon and make a simple swag. Regardless of how you decide to bring these evergreens into your home, you will enjoy the wonderful smell and so you will your guests. From my family to yours, Happy Holidays.