December 3, 2012

Hang it all – holiday wreaths

Think outside the boxwood and fir to make wreaths that are really fun and festive: Here's how.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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A gardeners’ wreath is decorated with mini watering cans, a tiny picket fence, pinecones, berries and a burlap bow. A themed wreath can be a really fresh addition to your holiday decor.

Courtesy of Diane Walden

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Nuts and pinecones bring natural beauty to this seasonal wreath.

Courtesy of Diane Walden

Additional Photos Below


THE SIZE OF A wreath ring determines the final size of the wreath. Here are some common sizes for wreath rings, along with the size of the wreath it will make and the amount of balsam fir tips needed:

An 8-inch ring will make a 12- to 14-inch wreath and requires 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of tips.

A 10-inch ring will make a 17- to 19-inch wreath and requires 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of tips.

A 12-inch ring will make a 20- to 24-inch wreath and requires 3 1/2 to 4 pounds of tips.

A 14-inch ring will make a 25- to 27-inch wreath and requires 4 1/2 to 5 pounds of tips.

A 16-inch ring will make a 31- to 33-inch wreath and requires 5 1/2 to 6 pounds of tips.


FOR DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS from the University of Maine Cooperative Extension on how to make a balsam fir wreath, including step-by-step diagrams, go to

THE SITE INCLUDES a video on how to sustainably harvest balsam fir tips.


THERE WILL BE a wreath-decorating workshop, including a lesson in bow making, at Christmas Prelude in Kennebunkport. Purchase a plain green wreath and choose from a selection of accessories. Gallery artists will be on hand to help you design your wreath.

WHEN: Noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 8

WHERE: Galleries at Morning Walk, 139 Port Road (Route 35), Kennebunkport. Less than a mile from Dock Square.

INFO: or 408-2236

"What I tell people to do when we do the classes is to go out and walk the yards and walk the power lines," he said. "There's a variety of stuff out there you can use -- hydrangea blossoms and rosehips, the native holly, the little red berries you see, and crab apples, maybe."

Walden, who considers herself a "ditch diver," drives around with a bucket of water and some pruning shears, just in case she sees anything wreath-worthy in her travels.

Look for berried plants or plants that dry well that have interesting seed heads, Walden suggests. Hellebore leaf "looks wonderful" tucked into wreaths. Hemlock and white pine add soft textural notes.

Freshness is important. Don't buy greens that are dropping needles or look stiff and dried out. If you gather your own greens and want to keep them fresh, Walden says, the best way to make them last is to make sure you go out after there's been three nights in a row of below-freezing temperatures. Once you hang a wreath, buy a spray bottle and be sure to mist the wreath occasionally.

Don't worry if the greens and other plants you gather aren't perfect. Just spray a little antique gold or silver paint on them to make them look festive. (Red or green spray paint does not look as good, Walden advises.)

Next comes the decorating. Here are some tips from Walden:

Instead of using a red ribbon, gather some ends of red twig dogwood and stick a bunch of them in the wreath in a continuous circle. Do a circle instead of the typical triumvirate of pinecones. Seashells work well too. "That's a completely different look that's really easy to do," Walden said, "and it just looks so fresh and different."

Think of a theme. If someone on your list is a dog lover, pick up some Milk-Bones to attach to their wreath. Walden once made a wreath for her local animal shelter with assorted sizes of dog treats and catnip sprays. Add a check donation in an envelope tucked under the bow.

Got a music lover on your list? Buy a bunch of old 45s with red center labels and attach them all around the wreath. Or use CDs, and finish the wreath with a ribbon that has musical notes on it, musical instrument ornaments and tickets to the local symphony.

For a Christmas ornament collector, fill the wreath with ornaments and stick a Christmas card on it.

Get a hot glue gun and glue golf balls to a wreath for a golfer.

For kids, try making a cowboys-and-Indians wreath, or one with farm animals.

Do a "naughty or nice" theme. For a "naughty" wreath, add chunks of coal and a sheer, wide, black ribbon, silver balls, icicles and iced twig ornaments. For a "nice wreath," add dried flowers and roses.

If the wreath is going to someone from away, attach a good quality fake red lobster, and add some lobster and moose cookie cutters, a pine tree-shaped car air freshener (still in its wrap) and some old-timey postcards of Maine scenes.

Go to a good ribbon store or browse ribbons online. Sometimes you'll come across one that reminds you of the person you're making the wreath for, and you can build the wreath around that. A rich chocolate-colored velvet ribbon with gold edging looks great with pheasant feathers and antique gold ball ornaments, Walden said.

Victorian-themed online stores are good sources for dried flowers.

Buy a bag of mixed nuts at the grocery store and make an all nut-and-pinecone wreath. Fill a wreath with Granny Smith apples or limes -- yes, even limes. "You can attach bright green limes to a wreath and put a big red bow on it, and it will look fantastic." Walden said.

Buy a box of cheap ball ornaments in two or three different colors and add them to your wreaths. Or go through your own ornaments and pick out the ones you no longer want to use on your tree. Instead of throwing them away, put them on a wreath.

String some fresh cranberries and wrap them around your wreath.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Greens and fresh fruit are joined by dried materials like pinecones and seed pods to make a Williamsburg wreath.

Courtesy of Diane Walden

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Larry Peterson of O’Donal’s in Scarborough arranges a fan of palm-sized pieces of balsam boughs. Other greens work, too.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Round wreaths are traditional, but yours can take other shapes, such as hearts, crosses and peace signs.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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Cindy Carroll, perennial buyer, and Larry Peterson, manager of O’Donal’s in Scarborough, make wreaths for sale that will be decorated with ribbons and a variety of seasonal items.

Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer


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