How to make a sustainable Christmas wreath

There’s something quite magical about an all-natural, sustainable door wreath at Christmas. And if you are lucky enough to have access to a garden to pick some stems and foliage it is very easy to make your own.

When making a festive wreath, you don’t need to use holly and ivy, you can choose to use anything that is looking interesting, colourful or different. Make it yours. I love to make extra and give them as festive gifts to friends and neighbours.

Cost cutting

If you are budget conscious one of the great things about making an all-natural door decoration is that it can be completely free. The only cost is your time. And if you like making them, then even better. For me it’s like a ritual, a kind of mindful meditation and a great excuse to be out in the garden on a mild winter day. My festive door wreaths have become so popular that I am now committed to making not just one for our front door, but also four neighbours and a lovely friend. They make great Christmas presents and this year they will be!

All natural

Many people use plastic, wire and even special wreath frames and bases for their door decorations. I don’t. You don’t need to. I also make a point of not using any plastic of any sort. The only thing I sometimes add is some ribbon to hang it up, but even that has been recycled from yesteryear and usually I use Twool. If you follow my instructions you do need to bear in mind that the wreath needs to be outdoors and kept naturally moist by the moisture in the air. The stems don’t have a source of water and will dry out a little, so may need misting.

You can use a variety of different materials to make a wreath. Image: Jean Vernon


The great thing about homemade decorations is that you can use a huge variety of different materials that you have to hand. If you are lucky enough to have a garden you will probably have everything you need. Gather together some evergreen foliage, some berries, some long straight stems (about 1.2m/4ft long), I like to use red dogwood, but you can use willow, hazel or any other pliable straight stems. Then if possible, you need some holly and some ivy, pick these with long stems so that you can weave them into the wreath as you go. If you don’t have holly and ivy you can use anything else that is evergreen that you like. A few ornamental materials like seed heads or cones or even dry teasels. You don’t need any special tools to make a festive wreath; I use a sharp pair of secateurs. That’s it. The material needs to be fresh and pliable.

Step 1. Make the circlet

Take one long stem and overlap its ends to make a circle. Hold the two ends in one hand. Now take a second stem and while holding the ends of the first stem, push this stem about half way through the circlet and hold it in the middle with the ends of the first stem. Now weave either end of the second stem over and over the first stem. This is the most difficult bit. It should start to hold together. You need to continue to hold the ends of the first stem and stop the second stem unraveling as you take your third stem and weave this over and over the first two stems to complete the circle. With three stems interwoven and the cut ends in different positions, the circlet should now hold together without any wire, or string or twine. If you fail the first time, keep trying, once you’ve got the knack, it’s quite easy.

Step 1. Make the circlet. Image: Jean Vernon

Step 2. Wrap some ivy

You can now reinforce your circlet by wrapping climbing stems around it. I like to use the long trailing stems of wild ivy (Hedera helix). Wind it in fairly tight because you will poke the stems of leaves and greenery under the ivy and through the circlet stems to hold them in place. If you have enough, wrap the ivy round two or three times. Ivy is a festive evergreen associated with female energy.

Step 2. Wrap some ivy. Image: Jean Vernon

Step 3. Add some filler greenery

Now you can start dressing your circlet. It can be as lush or as minimalist as you like. You might just want a circlet of stems; it’s totally up to you. Take long stems of foliage and push the base of the stems between the stems in the circlet and under the ivy and weave them in. Angle the foliage so that it follows the shape of the circle. Add as much as you’d like. The more you add the stronger it becomes.

Step 3. Add some filler greenery. Image: Jean Vernon

Step 4. Add some holly

Be careful handling holly because the prickles can be painful. But holly is another festive evergreen and is associated with male energy. You can use green holly or evergreen holly. If you’ve got holly with berries that’s even better. Take long stems of holly and push the ends of the stem under and between the other stems in the circlet, weave them in, using the other stems to hold them in place. Angle the holly so that it follows the shape of the circle and add as much as you like.

Step 4. Add some holly. Image: Jean Vernon

Step 5. Add some colour and drama

By now your wreath should be taking shape. You may be happy with how it is looking and not want to add anything more. But I like to add a few berries just to give it a bit more interest. You can use any red berries, rose hips and I’ve even used crab apples. Tuck them under the other stems to make them secure either using the stem ends or actually pushing a berry underneath and through to hold the rest safely.

Step 5. Add some colour and drama. Image: Jean Vernon

Step 6. Add a ribbon and hang it up

Now you can add a ribbon or a natural tie or use some Twool and hang it on your door. And make another one or two to give as festive gifts. Take a photo of what you’ve made and send us a picture. We’d love to see them?

Step 6. Add a ribbon or Twool and hang it up. Image: Jean Vernon

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