Deck the halls with boughs of holly? Where exactly do you find holly boughs without being arrested? In fact, when it comes to making Christmas garlands and wreaths, 'first get your holly boughs and lengths of ivy,' is normally where people switch off.
No, forget about the wilting, prickly green stuff. We're talking about really cool, modern garlands and wreaths; try sparkling lights, tons of delicate lace, bold colours.
And were to get all of this? Craft and floristry suppliers are where you'll find real inspiration and the most wonderful things to fashion into wreaths. The gathering of materials is just as much fun as the making.
At craft suppliers, look for things like small jingle bells which can be tightly woven around a heart shaped wire to completely cover it. Off the shelf you can buy ornamental 'presents', beautifully wrapped and ready to attach to a garland. To get a 'smart-art' wreath, wire up small, coloured Christmas tree baubles (all the same colour) to a metal circle until there's no room to attach any more, this will catch the light and have a great architecture. This one looks so good you won't want to take it down at the end of the season. Try three of them up a staircase. Also for the stairs, try sensuous garlands and swags which can be made of wide satin ribbon and contrasting coloured bows.
The craft suppliers are also the place to look for the basics like wreath bases. Chose the wreath base that will suit what you want to attach to it. For exampls, wire ones are great for winding fairy lights around, and lighter foam ones are good to stick dried, silver frosted leaves to.
If you are going to be sticking larger things like pine cones or ornamental presents to the wreath it's worth getting a hot glue gun. It's as much fun as it sounds and it will save a lot of heartache.
Floristry suppliers do wonderful things like dried chillies, coloured skeleton leaves and gorgeous dried roses. They also supply 'bouquet collars'; these are like small doilies that come in paper or wire. You can thread white fairy lights through them and attach them to round a wire wreath. When the filigree of the bouquet catches the light it makes a truly magical, frosty, twinkly, winter decoration.
Whatever you use to decorate the wreath or garland keep it absolutely simple. If there's a rule, it's to have only one colour; one type, on each decoration you make. For example, if you're using sweets stuck to a foam board circle, use all the same type and colour and it'll look graphic and smart. Or if you're making a garland of hanging snowflake shapes, create a template first and make sure each one is exactly the same so you get a good strong repeated pattern.
For a finishing flourish use beautiful coloured ribbons to hold the wreath or garland up. Choose these carefully; colour and texture of these can really set off the whole thing.
There's something about making things that's so Christmassy it really gets you into the spirit of the season. Sitting around the kitchen table with a glue gun and scissors creating a masterpiece taps into some primal memory of perfect Christmases from long ago.
So give it a go. Next weekend try a little craft therapy, after all it 'tis the season to be jolly, and make some fabulous decorations to deck out your home.
Caroline Tilston is a tutor at MyGardenSchool, where she teaches courses in Decorating Your Room Outside and Garden Design for Interior Designers. She is also a bestselling author of garden design books and prolific gardening journalist. Her company, Oak Studio Design Ltd, has been providing clients with beautiful gardens for the past 10 years.
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