Using trade secrets, create a professionally decorated wreath to match all of your holiday decor.

What is more welcoming during the holiday season than a Christmas wreath on your front door? Or even one in every window! Making a beautifully decorated wreath doesn't take much time or investment.   If you know a few "tricks of the trade" you can have one decorated and hanging on your front door in no time!

First you need to decide it you want a live wreath or an artificial one. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to either choice. An artificial wreath will last for many years if properly stored. You decorate it once and reuse it Wreath with White Bow(121557)Credit: and again. It is easy to attach the decorations to it using a hot glue gun. However, it doesn't have the fresh pine scent that we all love. A live wreath, on the other hand, smells wonderful, but only lasts for the season. Natural wreaths don't need much decorating as they are beautiful with just a bow. But whether you choose live or artificial, the steps to decorate it are basically the same.

After you decide on the type of wreath, you need to determine the size. Live wreaths are usually measured by the ring size, the metal ring to which the pine boughs are attached. Artificial wreaths are usually measured by the finished size - the measurement of the diameter from edge to edge. These are just basic guidelines as many live wreaths, depending on where you buy them, are also sold by the finished diameter. For a front door, a 24 inch finished diameter wreath is about the right size.

Wreaths are made of a variety of different pine boughs. Most wreaths are made with the same types of pine as a Christmas tree. The most common are Frasier fir, Douglas fir, white pine, and balsam. The can also be made with mixed greens, which are different types of pine boughs mixed with other greens including boxwood, hemlock, laurel, pine and spruce that when mixed together make a beautiful statement.  More expensive varieties will be very dense, while less expensive ones will have less pine and look a little flat. An inexpensive artificial wreath can be "fattened up" by adding some artificial greens like holly or boxwood. You can even recycle an old artificial tree and use some of the branches to add to a sparse artificial wreath!Wreath with white bowCredit:

Once you have chosen your wreath it is time to gather your decorations. First you need to decide upon a theme. One easy way to choose a theme is to match the decorations of your Christmas tree. If you are undecided about a theme, a good place to start is with the ribbon. Craft stores have infinite varieties of ribbon. (Hint: If you plan on making your own bow, using wire-edge ribbon is a good idea.)  After you pick your ribbon you can build the decorations around the ribbon, using elements that compliment the ribbon. Here are some of the types of decorations that can used on wreaths: 

  • Balls
  • Pine cones
  • Ornamental cinnamon sticks
  • Berries
  • Floral picks
  • Musical instrument decorations
  • Silk flowers such as poinsettias or magnolias

The choices are only limited by your imagination. Keep in mind that you will be using hot glue to attach the decorations to the wreath. Glass balls can shatter and can be hazardous, so plastic balls may be a safer option.Floral PickCredit:

After you have picked your ribbon and decorations you will need a bow, which is probably the most important element on the wreath. You can purchase a pre-made bow in craft stores or you can make your own. Take care to use a good sized bow, as one that is too small will look lost, and one that is too big will overpower the wreath. A good rule of thumb is to be sure the bow is at least as wide as the wreath from the outside edge to the inside edge (not the diameter of the wreath), and the width of the bow should be at least one third to one half of the overall diameter. So if you wreath measures 18 inches in diameter, your bow should be about six to nine inches wide.

If you will be attaching the bow on the top of the wreath, make sure your bow has "tails". The Pine ConesCredit: can hang down the center of the wreath or they can be tucked into the wreath itself. For a truly professional touch, be sure to finish the ends of the tails either by snipping off the ends at an angle, or cutting a "V" into the end.  If the bow will be placed on the side or the bottom, you don't need tails, but you can tuck the excess ribbon into the wreath.

Now you have your ribbon and bow, and you have chosen the types of decorations you will use. But how many do you need? A simple rule of thumb is to work with odd numbers of groups (or "clusters") of ornaments. For example, if you decide to use gold balls, pine cones and cinnamon sticks, you would gather enough materials to make three or five clusters of these decorations. So a typical cluster would be one large gold ball, two smaller gold balls, three medium pine cones, and two sticks of ornamental cinnamon.  If the wreath is small, use three groupings, for larger wreaths use five. You'll then need three large gold balls, six smaller gold balls, nine medium pine cones, and six cinnamon sticks.

Other supplies you will need are a hot glue gun, glue sticks, wire cutters and florist wire.You are ready to decorate!  We will decorate a small wreath using three clusters of decorations. Here are the four basic steps:

  1. Attach a hanging loop.
  2. Glue on the decorations.
  3. Attach the bow.
  4. Add ribbon (optional).

As you see, the bow is just about the last item to be added to the wreath. This is to prevent it from getting crushed or having hot glue drip onto it while you work on the wreath. But make sure you leave room on the wreath for the bow, taking care to not add ornaments in the area the bow will be placed. The bow can be placed at the top, bottom or side of the wreath. Wherever you choose to place the bow, just remember to leave that space clear of other decorations.

1. Attach a hanging loop.

Using floral wire, fashion a loop on the back of the wreath, attaching it to the wreath's wire frame. Take care to make the loop big enough to attach it to the hook or nail that the wreath will hang from. Don't ever attach a wire loop directly onto the pine boughs - especially on a live wreath. As the wreath dries out the pine boughs can break, causing the wreath to fall.

2. Glue on the decorations.

Begin adding the clusters of decorations. Using the hot glue gun, add a generous amount of glue directly onto the ornament. not directly onto the wreath. Working quickly, attach the ornament to the wreath, holding it in place until the glue begins to cool and harden. Starting Silver and Red Wreathon the bottom (at six o'clock), glue one large ball in place. Glue another large ball at nine o'clock and another at three o'clock. Next, glue one smaller ball to either side of the large ball; do this for all three clusters. Then add the three pine cones to the groups of balls, placing them in spaces above and below the balls. Last, stick the cinnamon onto either side of the clusters of ornaments you just created.

It's very easy to create many different looks just by changing the decorations and ribbon. The main idea is to create clusters of ornaments and space them around the wreath. Working with odd numbers is visually more pleasing than working with even numbers of clusters.

3. Attach the bow.

If you make your own bow, be sure to finish it with enough wire to attach it to the wreath. If you are using a pre-made bow, they generally come with wire but not enough to attach it securely. If this is the case. add a length of wire long enough to attach the bow to the wreath. Secure the bow onto the wreath. As noted, if the bow is attached on top, the tails can be left to hang in the middle. They should almost touch the inside bottom of the wreath. If the bow is attached to be bottom or on the side, the tails can be tucked into the wreath.

4. Add ribbon (optional).

As a nice finishing touch you can weave ribbon through the wreath. Using hot glue, secure one end of the ribbon behind the bow. Working in a zig-zag motion, place the ribbon all along the wreath, tucking it behind the ornament clusters. Glue the end behind the bow.

You're done! Hang your beautiful wreath on your front door!