Making a Christmas wreath is loads of fun, and adds a beautiful touch of natural charm to your holiday decor.
But they’re also time consuming to create. And you need to practice your technique first before you’ll get a symmetrical shape suitable for display.
So, if you don’t have the spare time for extensive craft sessions, try a swag instead. Loosely structured with a free form, a swag can be completed in well under 30 minutes!
And your creation is limited only by your imagination. Go classic with evergreen boughs and holly, add a rustic touch with bare twigs and twine, or fashion your own personal theme.
Here’s what you’ll need for the swag in our photos:
Baubles, Boughs, and Tools
- A variety of fresh evergreen boughs, with or without pinecones attached – pine, spruce, cedar, yew, hemlock, fir, and so on
- Fresh accent pieces with seasonal interest such as cotoneaster, heavenly bamboo berries (Nandina domestica), or holly
- Fake berries and fruit work too – due to this summer’s drought and watering restrictions, the berries on our holly bush are sparse, so I’ve gone synthetic this year!
- A selection of pinecones
- Baubles, bells, and other ornaments
- Two 5-foot sections of 2-inch-wide ribbon, organza or stiffened with wire at the edges
- A wreath hanger, or one more 5-foot section of ribbon
- Light to medium-sized paddle wire, around 20 gauge
- Light florist’s wire, about 30 gauge
- Pliers with a wire cutter
- Pruning shears
Step 1 – Get Organized
With your pruning shears, cut a selection of evergreen boughs and accent pieces, then gather your tools, supplies, and ornaments.
Step 2 – Choose Your Arrangement
Trim off any dead or brown bits from the boughs, and shape lightly if needed.
Use any shape you like – but teardrop, oblong, and rectangular are more visually appealing for a standard door than short, boxy arrangements.
Lay out the boughs on your work surface and arrange the pieces until you find an attractive pattern.
Starting with the bottom layer, use a long bough with a flat form, such as cedar, cyprus, hemlock, or Grand fir.
Add another layer of slightly shorter boughs with a fuller form, like Fraser or Noble fir.
Add a third top layer of decorative branches such as rosemary, bay laurel, holly, or salal (Gaultheria shallon).
Step 3 – Fasten the Boughs
Evenly align the top cut edges of the boughs, and cut a length of paddle wire, about 24 inches.
Darice 22-Gauge Green Paddle Wire, available on Amazon
Start at the back of your bough bundle and wrap the wire tightly three or four times around all the stems, finishing at the back.
Form a loop about two inches long, then twist the two ends together. Cut away any excess wire, then bend the cut edge down and in towards the stems.
Step 4 – Add the Accents
A smaller gauge of green wire is perfect for adding attractive accent pieces.
Pengxiaomei 26-Gauge Dark Green Floral Wire, 100 Pieces, available on Amazon
Using the smaller florist’s wire, arrange and attach the pinecones, sprigs of berries, and any decorative pieces you want to use.
Step 5 – Tie a Big Bow
Using the two 5-foot lengths of stiff ribbon, wrap the tops of the boughs a couple of times, hiding the wire but leaving the loop exposed.
Wire-Edged 2 1/2″ Snowflake Red and Gold Christmas Ribbon, 10 Yards, available on Amazon
Tie a big generous bow and arrange the loops, then weave the ribbon tails in and out of the greenery so that it peeks out here and there.
Step 6 – Hang and Display
Slip the third length of ribbon through the loop.
Hang from a wreath hanger, or place the ribbon over the top edge of your door and secure on the inside with a hanger. Or, tape to the top of the door with strong tape, such as duct tape.
Take A Bough
That’s it – you’re done!
Remember to start with a flat bough for the bottom layer so your swag rests flat against your door. And make sure to use a stiff ribbon so the bow will hold its shape.
Add shorter branches, then your decorative pieces, and finish off with an elegant bow and your holiday door will look gorgeous for the entire holiday season. If you like, a string of lights also makes a nice touch at night.
If you have a lot of surplus material when you’re finished, make another swag or two for your yard, or arrange evergreen bits in vases or containers around the home – the fragrance is heavenly! These also make nice gifts for friends and neighbors.
Drop us a line if you have any questions or comments. And if you don’t know a hemlock from a cedar, check out our article on evergreen identification to clear up your conifer confusion!
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Photos by Lorna Kring, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Darice, Pengxiaomei, and Premium Ribbon.
About Lorna Kring
A writer, artist, and entrepreneur, Lorna is also a long-time gardener who got hooked on organic and natural gardening methods at an early age. These days, her vegetable garden is smaller to make room for decorative landscapes filled with color, fragrance, art, and hidden treasures. Cultivating and designing the ideal garden spot is one of her favorite activities – especially for gathering with family and friends for good times and good food (straight from the garden, of course)!