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Make it or buy it, a wreath is a Christmas classic

By: Jane Rounsaville, Special to Home & Garden
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From basic boughs to playful peacock feathers, Christmas wreaths are more than holiday door decorations. They’re traditionally symbolic of eternal life, dating back to the ancient Olympic Games. Christmas is just a week away, but it’s not too late to grab a garland and start building some memories. A basic wreath needs a wire form or grapevine ring, greenery and assorted small, colorful items. You can purchase most of the items inexpensively from dollar stores, craft or party supply stores. Can’t decide on a theme? Think about your decorating style, favorite colors and lifestyle. Then, get creative — what are your hobbies, places you’ve traveled and happiest memories? Some themes that work well for wreaths are mini toys such as gumball machine prizes, Happy Meal toys, party favors or leftover game pieces; faux fruits including oranges, pomegranates, apples and pears; “living” wreaths made of rings of fragrant rosemary and other herbs, candy wreaths or family photo wreaths. June Stewart, 4-H Youth Development Program representative, has a lot of creative ideas for family projects, including bird-feeder wreaths. “Anything popcorn is always fun,” Stewart said. “They can string popcorn with a good sturdy string and wrap it around the wreath. The birds can pick the popcorn off, and they like to pick cranberries off, so they (kids) can mix fresh cranberries and popcorn together. “We collect seedpods and materials that we feel would look nice on a wreath, such as liquid amber seedpods, and those can be sprayed with gold or silver paint.” Stewart recommends using cones in a variety of shapes and sizes that can be painted or flocked for different textures. For those who don’t have the time to create their own, Pine Valley Ranch in Auburn sells wreaths for $14.50 each, made with branches from their own Douglas fir, grand fir and cedar trees. “We hire six high school kids in October to help us on the weekends,” co-owner Sharon Hane said. Michael’s craft store in Roseville starts making wreaths in September and October. “During the peak of the season, we do about 30 to 60 a day,” said Jeneese Vos, assistant to the floral designer at Michael’s. Vos said she can assemble each wreath in about 15 to 20 minutes. “You’ve got to get all of your equipment ready, and all of your product ready ahead of time, so you can just put it together.” For a typical wreath, Vos wraps garland around a base, then adds flowers, decorative picks, jingle bells, Christmas bulbs, and glitter. “I love glitter,” she said with a laughed. “I am up to my neck in glitter. I love (making wreaths). I really enjoy it. It is a lot of fun.” Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store in Roseville is another spot with a lot of ideas for creating a wreath. “We offer a great assortment of stuff for making wreaths — buying wreaths, garlands, Christmas decoration in general,” said Ellen Vigna, store manager. Plain wreath bases start from about $2.98, up to $9.98. “Most of the time a lot of people come in, the ones that decorate themselves. They will buy a ribbon to put on it, sometimes they will glue a favorite ornament to it, or they will buy Christmas flowers like maybe Amaryllis, or poinsettias, or something like that, and put them on.” The store also sells pre-made decorated wreaths from $29.99 and $49.99.