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From the Ground Up — Welcome the season with a wreath

Story by Dr. Cynthia Wood

We’ve been using wreaths to decorate doors for many years.

Victorians loved traditional combinations of holly, ivy and yew, plus bay leaves and fruit. Mistletoe was often used in their decorations too. The evergreens originally had religious significance. Yew branches symbolized everlasting life, while holly referred to the crucifixion of Christ.

Walk through any residential neighborhood this month and you’re likely to find festive wreaths on most front doors. Some are traditional combinations of seasonal greens — holly, cedar, pine and yew — while others are fantastical combinations of sparkly baubles, glitter, feathers, bells, birds and just about any other object imaginable.

Wreath making is a great seasonal activity in which all family members can participate. Everyone can help with the design and construction of a highly personal family wreath.

What to do:

Purchase a plain grapevine wreath that’s a suitable size for your door. Use heavy floral wire to create a hanger and the top of the wreath. Think about the color of your door and use it to develop a color scheme for your wreath — green and red; all silver or gold; or a mix of many colors. Think also about whether the grapevine base should be completely covered with decorations or just partially.

To make a simple wreath:

Purchase two large premade sprays of greenery from a local craft shop or florist. Both sprays of magnolia leaves and mixed evergreens are easy to work with and very effective. Position them along the side of the grapevine base and wire them in place with floral wire. The two undecorated ends of the sprays should be placed so that they overlap along the side of the wreath base. There will be a bare spot where the ends of the sprays overlap, and that’s the perfect location for a big, magnificent bow.

Finish with a bow:

Many different types of bows can be used on a wreath. Bows can be made with wired satin ribbon that’s available in a variety of widths, colors, and textures. The size of the bow and choice of pattern determine whether it’s demur, showy, traditional, or modern. There’s nothing more lovely or traditional than a plain red bow, which is always in style. There is also ribbon decorated with glittery designs, which is very showy and easier for people to see from the street. For the ultimate amount of curb appeal, however, simply make three or four large bows of complementary colors and textures of ribbon, stack them on top of each other, and wire them together. Place the bow on the wreath, and wire it in place.

Finishing up:

Your wreath is almost finished. Take a close look at it to see if it needs additional items to fill in bare areas or to add more pop. Clusters of berries, pinecones, bells, and shiny baubles all add interest. Cotton bolls and bells are my favorite additions this year.

Hang the finished wreath on your front door, adjust it so that it’s at just the right angle, and then walk out to the street to view your work. I bet it’s perfect!

No matter whether your wreath is simple or over the top, it sends a message of good cheer to everyone who sees it.

Have a great holiday!