Wreathed in Smiles

Wreathed in Smiles

Wreaths, in some form or fashion, are an indelible part of my Christmas memories. When I was a kid we would cut them out of cardboard, glue pieces of macaroni to them, and then paint them gold, to be displayed at the family Christmas Eve party. For years my mother made wreaths of hard candies with her women’s club. They came with a pair of scissors hanging on a red ribbon, and you could help yourself to a piece of candy by snipping one off. I thought that was terrific. Of course grapevine wreaths were of no interest; to us, grapevines were a nuisance to be cleared from the vineyards and burned each fall. And there were sturdy pinecone wreaths, which were wired onto a metal form and lasted for ten to fifteen years. We just freshened the bows at the beginning of each Christmas season.

There’s no need to make a wreath from scratch, but you can “customize” any wreath to fit your door or your décor. A bright ribbon, some sprigs of holly or juniper, and little bundles of birch twigs or cinnamon sticks can entirely change the look of a wreath. Since we don’t usually have snow for Christmas in Washington, I like to plant pansies in front of the house, and then match the Christmas wreath to the pansies, changing the colors of the flowers and the ribbon each year.

Here are some wreath ideas that I hope you’ll like. If you have two narrow front doors, as we do, a wreath of the right proportions can be a challenge. I found just the thing at Frontgate.com several years ago – a big wreath that separates so that one half hangs on each side of the door. It’s faux evergreen, so each year I wire in lots of fresh greens and other items that add color to make it unique. Wreaths can be made of herbs, wheat, dried flowers – pretty much anything you have at hand can be twisted to fit a wreath’s frame and tied in with florist’s wire.

Here is this year’s version of our front door wreath: crabapples, juniper, viburnum berries to give it texture, with a velvet ribbon to pull it all together. I picked the crabapples off our trees and used them on the wreath because they were the perfect shade of rich, dark red.




In the kitchen I hung two little wreaths together with a piece of plaid ribbon on a big cutting board – a little bit of Christmas in what is a fairly utilitarian space. The wreaths are made of fabric and can be used in different places around the house and with different elements to change the look. I could imagine these hanging from a bookshelf, an armoire door or a mirror – any narrow space that’s hard to decorate.

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You can’t beat Mother Nature for putting together the best possible combinations of colors and textures. This variegated holly wreath from Lynch Creek Farm is perfect just as it is. I only added the ribbon for hanging it to give it that extra pop of contemporary color and voila! It took less than five minutes to do.

Wreathed in Smiles

There’s something soothing about taking the colors of Christmas and mellowing them out to lovely faded blue greens and Nantucket pinks. This eucalyptus and pepper berry wreath is perfect for a rustic gate or weathered old door. The soft red of the ribbon gives the wreath a nice finishing touch – and this would look as pretty inside as it would hanging on a wooden gate.

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