A holly wreath on the front door is a sure sign to anyone passing or entering your home that this is a place bursting with Christmas cheer.
Even if you’ve had a draining day at work and nightmare journey home, just the sight of your wreath will remind you that it isn’t all too bad after all. You’ll straighten your spine, put your shoulders back and turn the key revitalised by this festive welcome. And if you made the wreath yourself with some helpers and maybe a glass or two of mulled wine, you might even manage a smile at the memories of making it.
Moss is the traditional base for a holly wreath and according to my mother-in-law – who learnt this from her grandfather – it’s the best. Partly because it provides a firm base for you to stick the holly into, but also because it adds lustre to the wreath by mixing in with the look of the holly. Any gaps in your covering of the base will be barely noticeable.
For the basic wreath you will need to buy some kit from a garden centre:
Wire wreath frame
Box of moss
Wreath hook for hanging it up with
Some fine rubber gloves if you’re of a delicate disposition and want to protect your hands.
And, of course, you’re going to need a good pile of holly. If you’re lucky enough to have a holly tree in your garden then you’re all set. A neighbour with a holly bush that’s bursting with berries might be delighted to let you ‘prune’ their tree in return for you making them a small wreath too. Just do ask first. Wherever you’re sourcing it from, try to get at least some branches with beautiful red berries.
Lay the wire wreath flat on a table. Take a meaty grab of moss and bunch it together into a very thick sausage. Lay the piece of moss onto the frame. You need to make sure the moss is thick and chunky or else your wreath will be weedy. Grab the next piece of moss and butt it up right against the first piece. When you’ve got two chunks of moss laid onto the wreath cut off a length of wire. Tie round the end of your first chunk and knot the wire so you have a short loose piece and then the rest of the length. Wind the shorter length around the wire frame to lose the end.
Now take the longer piece of wire and wrap it around your moss. It needs to be tight and at gaps of about an inch only. Go to the end of the moss chunks that are laid on the frame and then repeat the process with your next two pieces of moss. When your stretch of wire is starting to run out knot it off at the back of the frame or tightly wrap the end around the frame. Then just start again with more wire.
Do this over and over until you’ve gone right the way round the frame with the moss. Make sure it’s tight, thick and has no gaps. If any parts look a bit thin, just grab more moss, lay it over the moss already on there and re-wire.
Now you’ve finished the base and are ready to add in the holly.
Take a length of holly about 4” or so. You need to cut about an inch clear of leaves at the base of each piece so that you have something strong to stick into the moss. Make sure the top of each piece has leaves rather than woody stem. On my first go I hadn’t really grasped that bit, and then couldn’t make out why it looked more like a twig wreath than a holly wreath.
Firmly stick the holly into your moss frame and do this right around the wreath, covering all the moss. When you’re starting to be happy with it, hang it up so you can really see how it’s going. Then fill in any gaps or move things around to end up with something bushy and fabulous.
This basic holly wreath can be gloriously hung as it is (that’s what I’d do), or use this as the base to which you can add ribbons, baubles, cinnamon sticks or whatever is most likely to make you smile each time you arrive home.