When the weather turns cold, and outdoors-people like myself are spending less time in the great outdoors, there’s nothing like bringing a little outdoors indoors! There’s also something really nice about making a home festive for the winter holidays. It just warms your bones. Over the past several years, I have made a lot of efforts to decorate with natural materials and reduce my impact on the earth. For folks of modest means like our family, who don’t have extra money for things like holiday decor, this is also the only way to go. Turning to old-time traditional decorations like wreaths and evergreen garlands, I found that I could deck my halls for nothing more than the cost of florists wire, daring creativity, and an adventurous spirit willing to go gather greens out in the woods.
Last year we made a trip out to some BLM timber land near our house and gathered fallen limbs after a wind storm. In our area we have abundant Douglas-fir, hemlock, cedar, and some spruce. Wild rose bushes with sprays of bright red rose hips grow thick along country roads, making another excellent garland material. We also found several holly trees on a vacant lot across from our local Bi-Mart, and pruned a good sized bundle of holly boughs laden with bright red berries. The year before, when we lived in town, I scoured neighborhood holly trees (people never seem to mind when you prune these for them), and gathered fallen limbs in parks, alleyways and parking lots. This year, there were piles of boughs left over from the Winter Light Faire at our childrens’ school, so I brought home a car load of those and got to work.
I started out by making a wreath. For this, I started with a wreath making hoop I picked up along the way somewhere. If you don’t have one of these, fashioning a hoop of wire, sticks, or anything will do. Then I laid the first small fir branch on and secured it near the bottom by wrapping wire around. From there I overlapped more branches and kept wrapping going all the way around the wreath.
If you just keep laying them on there to hide the bottom of the last one, and wrapping, you will eventually come to the end. It’s a very simple craft. I had never made a serious wreath before last year, and I was really pleased with my first-time results.
Here’s the giant wreath my family made together at our school’s Winter Light Faire. This one is on a willow twig base, and decked out with some serious bling the kids picked out. Very cheery.
Next I made some cedar garland. I gathered a couple of cedar branches by the ends, layed some wild rose branches over them, and started wrapping. I just kept adding more cedar branches and wrapping tightly all the way up until I got to a point I felt was a good middle.
At this point, I started laying the branches in the other direction so that they would all point downward from the top of the doorway. If you were making one to wrap around a stairway banister or drape along something, this step wouldn’t be necessary.
Here is last year’s door garland. Note the spiffy wooden ladder-turned-pot-hanger my husband is getting ready to install.
I also made garlands to lay across the top of all our front porch railings. These I only loosely wrapped with some wire to keep them from blowing away in winter wind storms.