Once you’ve got the Christmas tree sorted (don’t forget to read our detailed guide to different Christmas tree types) you’ll want to decorate your house to match. At Christmas Trees Direct, we advocate the use of real Christmas trees and fresh cut Christmas branches for decoration. You just can’t beat the fresh scent and completely unique style – no two real Christmas garlands are the same, after all.
In this guide, find out what exactly classifies as a wreath or a garland, plus some tips and advice on making them yourself this festive season.
Christmas Wreath vs Christmas Garland
First, they are two separate things. Although they are often sold as a set, they have different places in your home.
Wreath – this is simply a hoop or ring decorated with organic material. You can have summer wreaths, made with flexible flowers (like daisies) that are worn. However, the Christmas wreath is traditionally very solid and inflexible. It is made with woven branches of fir trees (Christmas trees) and decorated with festive accents. Traditionally it was laid flat with a candle in the centre, but nowadays it usually is hung on the front door.
Garland – just like the wreath, the Christmas garland is made from woven branches of fir trees with added festive accents. The difference is that the garland is a long strip rather than a loop. Garlands are traditionally placed along the mantlepiece above a fireplace, but they can also line tables or be used to decorate walls in general.
How to Make Your Own Wreath
Making a wreath is considered more difficult than a garland. Most fir branches are notoriously inflexible, which is great for hanging heavy decorations on the tree but not great for creating a wreath which requires bending the branches into a circular shape.
To help you create a wreath, you’ll need some specialist equipment. Start with a metal hoop that’s designed to hold the branches.
Once the wreath is finished, the traditional place to hang it is on the front door. Hanging it outside in the cold will prolong the life of the branches. If they are kept somewhere warm and indoors, the needles will drop faster.
Christmas Wreath Decorations
To make a Christmas door wreath, you will need:
- Wire copper wreath ring,
- Mossing pins or florists wire,
- Foliage – cut a few branches off the base of your tree, or pick your own plants like holly,
- Accessories – bows, pinecones, flowers, dried fruit, etc.
Start by cutting your foliage into short branches. One by one, attach them to the base of the wreath ring at an angle (think of a Catherine wheel firework shape, with each branch spiking off slightly).
Use your wire or pins to secure each branch, working in a circle. The last branch should cover the wire attaching the first one.
Using more wire or a hot glue gun, attach your accessories. You can even wind some fairy lights around the wreath for an extra festive touch.
Other ideas for a Christmas wreath besides using fir branches include using holly and other softer foliage type – you can use a florist’s foam base for this idea. If you want to create a permanent, reusable Christmas front door wreath, try gluing baubles and other Christmas tree decorations to a solid wooden or wire ring.
How to Make Your Own Garland
Garlands traditionally go across the fireplace, which is a problem. Artificial garlands may melt, and natural real garlands will drop their needles quickly when they dry out. To combat this, try to place your garland in a naturally cool part of your home. You can also mist it with moisture regularly to improve needle retention.
If you are set on having a Christmas garland above your fireplace, then consider buying a larger Christmas tree than normal. For example, go for a ft size up so that you’ll have plenty of extra lower branches to cut off and create multiple garlands. At Gardeners Dream, we have Christmas trees for sale that reach 7ft!
When one garland dries out, you can replace it with another.
Green Christmas Garland Supplies
To make your fireplace Christmas garland, you will need foliage that is quite dense. The Norway Spruce is a classic tree that provides long and strong branches with densely packed needles. Gather these materials:
- Long foliage branches, preferably cut from your Christmas tree,
- Florist’s wire or other sturdy craft wire,
- Decorations – ribbons, glitter, baubles, etc.
- Fairy lights (optional).
Start by deciding how long your garland should be – will it sit on top of the mantel, or should it drape down the sides too? Lay out your foliage in a line, overlapping each piece, to work out how long your garland should be.
Next, use wire to join each fir branch together. Overlap two pieces and wrap wire around the stems. If the pine needles are a bit too sparce and don’t hide the wire completely, you can either layer up with more branches or attach decorations where the wire is showing.
To create neat ends at either side, start from the centre of the garland. Arrange two branches facing away from each other, with the cut edges together, overlap and secure them. Place something at the centre to cover this join (a candle is a nice option) and work your way outwards from either end.
Which Christmas Tree Should You Pick?
Matching your garland and wreath to your Christmas tree is a must. Ideally, they should all be from the same Christmas tree variety so that your décor matches across your home. If you need some assistance selecting the right Christmas tree, read our guide to Christmas tree types.
We also have a new guide to decorating your Christmas tree, which will take you through the different Christmas décor themes and match them up to the tree foliage that works best with them.