Incorporating Evergreens into Christmas

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In a world full of plastic decorations, my solace is found in natural materials.  So instead of reaching for materials made from petrochemicals, I head to the forest.  (If you don’t have access to a forest, check with your local nursery, greenhouse, or floral shop for fresh greens.  Stores like order typically order evergreens by the box and they generally have a variety of greens available: spruce, cedar, balsam fir, and pine).

variety of fresh evergreens

variety of fresh evergreens

If you have access to a forest or are able to harvest greens from your own property… wonderful!  You have a ready supply at no cost.   But don’t lose heart.  Fresh greens from the stores listed above are still cheaper to purchase compared to buying a pre-made wreath.  And if you are not in a hurry to hang a fresh wreath, the cost of greens will go down the closer it gets to Christmas.  For example, the greens I used in this year’s wreath cost only $5.

Materials Needed for a Fresh Wreath

  • fresh evergreens
  • wreath base – wire is the most common and can be reused
  • string or wire – tie greens to the base
  • pruners – cut branches to size
  • optional materials – holly berries, bow, pine cones, dried branches, fresh fruit, or whatever else strikes your fancy

Don’t worry if you have never made a wreath.  Just cut the evergreens to desired length and start tying them to the wreath base.  It to keep on track, start at one place on the wreath and continue adding materials from that point following around the base until there are no visible bare spots.  This method allows you to work more quickly compared to adding a piece of green here and there on the wreath.  NOTE: fresh greens work best as they are still pliable and easy to work with.  If you greens are drying out, they become brittle and begin to shatter in your hands as you work with them.  (To keep cut greens fresh, place in a plastic bag and lightly spritz with water and keep in a cool location such as the garage, crawl space, or outdoors until you are ready to use them).

Once you are satisfied, you can now hang your wreath.  While it is traditional to hang a wreath over a fireplace or on a front door, you can get creative with wreath placement.  Maybe the kitchen or dinning rooms?  Or how about placing the wreath flat on a table as a centerpiece?

fresh evergreen wreath

fresh evergreen wreath

If you have evergreens leftover from your wreath project, consider decorating a mantel with fresh greens.  Maybe you can add them to a buffet table?  You could also buy a floral foam block (one that absorbs water) and create a simple centerpiece using the leftover greens.  Remember to soak the block first (available from a floral shop, floral supply store, or some craft centers).   Place the block in a waterproof container.  Use floral tape to tape the block in place so it does not tip over.  Slide the cut end of the ever green into the wet block and continue adding greens until you are satisfied with your creation.

Throughout the holiday season, check on your wreath.  The greens will eventually dry out.  This is important to remember, especially if you choose to use the wreath as a centerpiece and place a lit candle near it.  Dry evergreens are very flammable!  To test the greens, handle them.  Do they feel dry?  Do the ends of the greens shatter in your hands?  Do the greens look lighter in color?  If the answer is yes to any of those questions, keep the wreath away from an open flame.

When you are ready to discard the wreath, snip away the ties that are holding the evergreens to the wreath base.  This allows you to save the wreath base to use again.  You can either chip the greens into mulch, break into small pieces to use as a fire starter, haul the greens back to the forest to allow them to decompose, or place them in the trash.

Get back to nature and incorporate fresh evergreens into Christmas.  Your handmade creations will give you a sense of pride and the aroma of fresh greens will truly add holiday spice to your home.

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