Seven Tips for a Great Holiday Wreath

Every year, Minnesota’s Governor’s Residence boasts a beautiful holiday wreath, big and bountiful to compliment the governor’s official home. I was fortunate  to observe Diane Lee, who made the governor’s wreaths several times during the terms of Gov. Mark Dayton. ,

Diane has some great ideas for anyone who wants to make an original wreath for their home this holiday season.

pine cones and feathers
Diane chose muted colors and natural elements for this wreath.

Tip No. 1: Pick a Theme.  Because Gov. Mark Dayton is a single man known for his love of big dogs, Diane decided to choose masculine elements and colors for the wreaths. They each have a big red bow, but the rest of the elements are muted and north-woodsy: a pheasant, ferns, pinecones, large pears, cranberries and pheasant feathers in one and a tiny deer, ferns, pinecones and cranberries in the other.

Tip No. 2: Add Extra Greens at the Bottom of the Wreath.  To nestle her two focal points – the pheasant and deer figures – Diane put extra greens at the bottom of each wreath. This nest gives the wreath extra texture and draws the eye to the focal point. As I’ve noted in previous posts on holiday containers, beautiful wreaths tend to have lots of types of greenery. Diane used four kinds of greens in these wreaths.

woman working on large wreath
Diane wrestled a bow into position on the 60-inch wreath.

Tip No. 3: Don’t Make it Symmetrical. On the biggest of the two wreaths (60 inches in diameter), Diane loaded one side of the wreath with three over-sized imitation pears, a few pinecone clusters, as well as ferns and cranberries. The other side had only pinecones and cranberries.  But she also placed the bow slightly off center on that side to balance out the wreath. Also, the ends of your bows should always have a long and a short side.

wreath details
A mix of natural and artificial elements means the wreath will withstand our weather better.

Tip No. 4: Use Odd Numbers. Like plantings in your yard, odd numbers seem to work better on wreaths. Diane used three imitation pears and one focal point piece; she wired three pinecones together before placing them on the wreaths.

Tip No. 5: Mix Fake and Real. Diane used a mix of natural pieces with fake ones. The pinecones are real, but the cranberries are extra large fake ones. The fakes tend to hold up better in our tough weather, and from a distance, no one will know.

Tip No. 6: Wire it Down! Diane uses 24-gauge floral wire to lash the decorative pieces on the wreath. The wire is green, so it blends well with the greenery of the wreath and it’s thin enough that it can’t be seen. She also keeps a hot glue gun handy to secure wayward cranberries or cedar boughs.

Tip No. 7: Know When to Stop. Diane doesn’t have any specific suggestions about how many elements or how full a wreath should be. But, when you add something and it seems to detract from what else is there, then it’s time to stop.

big red bow
No wreath is complete without a big, red bow.




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