Handmade Christmas

Why buy something when you can make it? Especially when you can make it so much more interesting and unique? Our wreath classes sell out every year to people who want to hang something on their front door that will be unlike anyone else’s. A handmade wreath is as special as a snowflake. And so much prettier than anything store-bought.

The greens this year came almost exclusively from Blithewold trees (all but the balsam) and were an unusual assortment that included Moss cypress (Chamaecyparis picifera ‘Squarrosa’), Hinoki cypress (C. obtusa), yew (Taxus baccata), and Japanese umbrella pine (Sciadopitys verticillata). And the method we teach is easy – just wind a continuous loop of wire (we use 22 gauge florist wire) around the frame attaching small bundles of greens as you go. All in the same direction, covering the stems bundle by bundle until the last stems tuck under the first. Piece of cake!

The trick is finding greens. If you don’t have an interesting assortment in your own garden, you might consider that as you peruse the plant catalogs this winter and shop the nurseries next spring. In the meantime, do not be tempted to pick anything without permission, no matter where you are. Rhode Island actually has a Christmas Greens Law (State of R.I. & Providence Plantations, Chapter 15, General Laws 1956, 2-15-12 through 2-15-17) prohibiting picking anything on state property. (For a list of protected plants, click here.)  And for goodness sake, don’t use bittersweet berries because you’ll end up with that junk coming up in walkway and foundation cracks. If you or your generous neighbors don’t have evergreens in need of a trim, buy some from your favorite local nursery. (We always buy balsam for its Christmasy fragrance and because it’s stiff enough to use a backbone for each otherwise floppy bundle.) Even if you have to spend a little to make your wreath, it will be more amazing and special than anything mass produced by strangers. And if you’re like me and not particularly crafty on a daily basis, you might find that it’s also a great way to stretch your creative muscles and generate ideas for what else can be made for Christmas rather than bought.

Do you make your own wreaths or roping? How about Christmas gifts? Would you be willing to share your ideas and/or methods? (I’m still casting around for what to make this year as gifts – I can’t do terrariums again…)