How to: DIY Christmas Wreath

An easy, elegant and strangely addictive holiday project: DIY boxwood wreaths


STEP 1: Well-hydrated boxwood will make a longer-lasting wreath. I re-cut the ends of each of the sprigs and soaked them in a tub of water overnight. Pictures / John McDonnell for The Washington Post

STEP 2: Attach and loop the wire around the bottom of the frame to get it anchored and started. The whole wreath is made with one continuous line of wire.

STEP 3: Each bundle is made of approximately four-to-six sprigs that have been gathered to form a compact bunch that will extend beyond the inner and outer circles of the frame. This step is crucial in achieving a professional look. Bundling takes practice and an eye to get the right mass of foliage - too narrow and the bundle will look thin, too thick and it will mess up the uniformity of the circle. Use stems of differing lengths to get a full look. Larger stems with multiple branches may need to be cut into several sprigs. At Ladew, the historic house and gardens in Monkton, Maryland, the wreathmakers take an extra step: They wire the boxwood bundles before wiring them to the frame. "It comes out better shaped, and with all the wiring it's very secure," lead gardener Sarah Oktavec said.

STEP 4: Start at the base of the frame (6 o'clock) and assemble the wreath clockwise, with the stem ends leading the way. The bundle is about nine inches long, with the stems trimmed to form one point. Bending the bundle a little in the direction of the circle will help center the stems in the frame. Hold the bundle with one hand and wire it with the other. The wire should wrap around the lower half of the bundle, with the majority of the loops at the base.

STEP 5: Each new bundle covers about four inches of the bottom of the one before it. Repeat all the way around the frame. The whole wreath will consume at least a dozen bundles.

STEP 6: On the last bundle, lift the foliage of the first bundle and slip the stems of the last underneath. Once they are wrapped, cut the wire and tie it off. The bundles can be teased and adjusted a little to create a uniform circle.

STEP 7: The wreath is trimmed and groomed with scissors to give it a neater look. If you want to use anti-desiccant, now is the time to dip or spray the wreath. Allow it to dry for an hour or two before hanging.

STEP 8: The ribbon allows the wreath to be hung and completes the look. You can use a needle and strong thread to sew the two ends together. The length depends on its placement over a door, window, wall or mirror, but you will need about a yard for the hanging ribbon and another yard for the bow (more if the bow has multiple loops). Give the bow tails of eight inches and, as a finishing touch, cut a V into the bottom of the tails. A wreath can be wired directly onto the knocker or hung from a longer ribbon so that the wreath encircles the knocker. In this version, the end of the ribbon can be secured to the top edge of the door with thumbtacks or heavy-duty staples. The wreath will last longer as an outdoor decoration. If hung indoors, keep a close eye on it and discard it once it dries out and sheds.

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