How to make a beautiful Christmas wreath
The festive foliage adorning your front door is as vital a part of a traditional Christmas (in our opinion) as the turkey and trimmings. If the bog-standard holly, laurel or ivy number isn’t for you, get creative, nurture your inner artist and make your own beautiful wreath, festooned with edible ingredients. You may feel daunted at the prospect but it’s really not as tricky as it looks.
Clare Hargreaves spoke to Jan Billington, a professional wreath-maker who has been cultivating edible flowers at Devon-based Maddocks Farm Organics for 16 years. Jan gives us some trusty tips and tricks, along with a simple step-by-step guide to creating the most beautiful festive wreath.
Learn how to make your own Christmas crackers too!
A step-by-step guide on how to make the best Christmas wreath
1. Assemble your kit, then gather greenery for the base. For herb wreaths, use rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender or bay; for larger wreaths, add in plants such as kale.
What you need is simple: a wire frame, florist’s wire, stub wire and a glue gun. You may be able to buy these at your local florist; if not, try Hobbycraft (and pet shops for hay).
2. Add some colour! Edible berries, fruits and variegated sage add great colour. (Note: it’s best not to eat rose hips raw.) Use anything from crab apples to figs, cabbage roses and dried orange slices.
3. Now its time to attach the wire to the frame. Twist one end of a reel of florist’s wire onto the frame to secure. Wind it around the frame, packing in hay as you go and pulling it taut to hold the hay in place. Secure wire to frame, then cut.
4. Attach a loop of florist’s wire to use for hanging the wreath. Tie your greenery into sprigs with wire, wrapping it around the stems, then attach securely to the wreath using more wire.
5. Work around the wreath, covering the previous sprig’s wire and stems with the foliage of the next. Create a wreath of dense greenery by pointing some sprigs inwards, others outwards.
6. Make ‘baubles’ by attaching items such as garlic and seed heads to stub wires with a glue gun. Poke them into the wreath and wind tight to secure. Finish with a raffia or ribbon bow.
Jan makes bespoke wreaths to order (from £60 for a 10in kitchen herbal wreath), but you need to be local to the farm in Devon as you’ll have to pick up your wreath. For more information, visit maddocksfarmorganics.co.uk
The basic principles of wreath-making
Give it a theme : At Maddock’s Farm, they theme their wreaths around traditional Christmas dinner courses, so they do one using sage, red onions and garlic bulbs and a Christmas pudding wreath decorated with dried orange, dried figs from the garden and cinnamon sticks. There’s one made just out of winter brassicas and another from root vegetables, and they also do small herb wreaths that people can hang in their kitchens over Christmas or use as a centrepiece on the dining table.
Make it personal: If you’re making a wreath for a friend who’s passionate about gardening, for example, perhaps include an array of their favourite seasonal flowers.
Find the right finishing touches: The bow you choose can make or ruin a wreath. Pick a colour that emphasises the colours of the ingredients. If you want a natural look, use raffia. Think big and bold – it needs to stand out.
How long will a homemade wreath last?
It depends on a range of factors, such as the weather and which ingredients you’ve used, but if your wreath is out on the front door and it’s cold, it should easily last a week or more. If you’re hanging a herbal wreath in the kitchen, avoid anywhere near the oven or hob, as steam could make the leaves go mouldy (don’t spray it with water as this can have the same effect).
How edible is your wreath?
While the ingredients of your wreath may be edible, use common sense in deciding whether or not to actually eat them. Some ingredients – such as fir and bay leaves that you might use on the base – are edible when cooked but not when raw. Obviously, the ingredients will deteriorate with time and the wires could rust so, in this case, feast on your wreath with your eyes rather than actually tucking into the ingredients with the turkey and trimmings.
If you’re in the mood for some festive DIY, why not take a look at our edible gifts collection.