I live in a townhouse with a giant front door that is both a blessing and a curse. Wide and over 10 feet tall, it makes a statement and has what you’d call “curb appeal,” but it dwarfs the standard-sized doormat and makes a traditional 24” wreath look comically small.
When the holidays rolled around my first year of living here, I searched and searched for a reasonably priced oversized wreath. I wanted a real one because I love being greeted by the smell of fresh pine, but I couldn’t find anything within my budget. So, I decided to make one.
It’s also become a tradition I look forward to every year and, in a way, it’s a form of self-care.
As it turns out, it’s relatively easy, sustainable, and affordable. It’s also become a tradition I look forward to every year and, in a way, it’s a form of self-care. I cue up a cheesy Hallmark movie, make myself a festive cocktail or a glass of egg nog and get to work.
Whether you need more of a custom look like me or you’re just wanting to flex some creative muscle, a DIY wreath is a perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.
Gather Your Base Materials
For starters, you’ll need a wreath form. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes and can be found at most craft stores, on Amazon, or even the dollar store. For my project, I used a round green wire form because I wanted to incorporate lots of greenery and needed something sturdy, but I’ve also seen beautiful, delicate wreaths on Instagram made with embroidery hoops or wreath forms made from woven branches.
You’ll also need a spool of floral wire. It’s typically green, which helps it to blend in, and easy to work with. Lastly, you’ll need a pair of wire cutters and pruning shears or scissors to trim foliage. If you plan to incorporate a bow or ribbon, now is a good time to buy that, too.
Use 22 or 24 gauge wire—the lower the gauge, the thicker (and less pliable) it will be. Thicker wire can be useful if you’re trying to secure heavier branches.
Hunt for Greenery
If you’re lucky enough to live in a mountainous place, you may have greenery in your own backyard that you can source. For the rest of us, it's best to head to wherever Christmas trees are sold. There’s usually a large discard pile of branches that were sawed off the bottom of the tree before it was wrapped up.
At my local Home Depot, there’s always a big box, filled with cuttings from a variety of trees—Fraser Firs, Balsam, Norway Firs, etc. Be sure to ask for permission before diving in, but in my experience, most places are happy to have you take the excess foliage off their hands. The best part? It’s free. I always leave with as many branches as I can carry (and sometimes go back for more).
You could stop there and have plenty to work with, but I also like to incorporate eucalyptus and some cedar sprigs for added texture. Berry stems or dried oranges are other popular choices. For these materials, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are my go-tos. Whole Foods often has more variety, but Trader Joe’s prices can’t be beat—I recently snagged two greenery bundles for $6.
To maximize freshness, soak your greenery overnight in water in a cooler, tub or the kitchen sink. Once in wreath form, give it a good spritz every couple days.
Lay out a blanket or tarp so cleaning up all those stray pine needles will be a cinch. Then, when you’re ready, start to weave branches between the metal rods, working your way around the wreath form in one direction. After you’ve created a solid base, you can go back in with smaller pieces, trimming and fluffing as needed. Be sure to view it from different angles and hold it upright to make sure everything is laying the way you want. The good news? There’s really no wrong way to design your wreath and that’s the beauty of it—it will be completely unique to you.
While there is an upfront investment (that first year, I spent around $40 for materials), I love that I was able to make something to fit my space at a price I could afford. And it’s sustainable—after New Year's Day, I take the wreath down and do my best to salvage any floral wire before taking the branches, along with our Christmas tree, to a local farm to be composted. The wreath frame is thin enough it can be stored in a closet or even under the bed until inspiration strikes again.