Create Real Holiday Magic with a Customized Wreath

Nov12th 201211 comments

Wreathes are one of the most common holiday decorations this time of year, used to dress up homes, businesses, schools, offices and myriad public spaces. But why just put up a plain wreath with a red bow when there are so many options to make it uniquely yours? Here are some tips on how to make a one-of-a-kind wreath for you, or as a gift for someone special.

First off, choose a theme. It can be a color combination: red and gold, mocha and metallic, or hot pink and aqua. Make it natural and rustic with pine cones, berries and cinnamon sticks. Or make it dazzling with shiny ornaments and lots of bling. If you have sports fans around, add some Patriots or Red Sox memorabilia. You can theme a wreath around elves, teddy bears, religious symbols, cooking utensils, Santa, musical instruments, the Nutcracker or just about anything else you can think of! Mahoney’s has a huge array of “ingredients” to get your creative juices flowing, or you may have some special items at home already that you’d like to use.

When planning your wreath, keep location in mind. Inside wreathes don’t need to withstand wind, freezing temperatures and snow, and some materials may not hold up outdoors.

Next you need to decide if you want the wreath to be artificial or made of live greens. Both have their advantages. The latter look fresh and feel genuine, but artificial wreathes make less mess indoors and can be used for years to come.

You also need to decide on shape. While wreathes are traditionally round, there are square options and even other shapes available. And before you go shopping for a wreath, you need to determine what size will be most appropriate for the place where you plan to hang it. Whether a door or a wall, a wreath will show to best advantage if there is some space around the edges.

Many wreathes have a bow as a major feature. You can buy these pre-made or make your own choosing from hundreds, if not thousands, of ribbons that are available. But you don’t need to have a bow either. Create a major focal point with a spray of dried flowers, a big cluster of ornaments or a special item that helps establish the theme.

Once you’ve gathered the materials you want to include in your wreath, it’s time to put them together. If you want lights on the wreath, I usually put those on before doing anything else, evenly distributing the lights, trying to hide the wires as much as possible, and keeping in mind where I want the plug to end up. If an outlet is not convenient, or you simply want to avoid wires altogether, you can upgrade to using the new battery powered LED lights.

If there is a bow or single major focus to the wreath, position that next. Then pick a few other focal points evenly spaced around the remainder of the wreath to locate other items of greater interest. The wreath may look better if you cluster items around these focal points rather than just distributing them randomly. I recommend positioning these major elements before you start attaching anything, so you can adjust the design as you explore various possibilities.

Once you know where you want everything to go, the last thing to do is attach them to the wreath. In a natural wreath, you can likely just poke in stems of additional greens, berries and dried materials and they will stay in place. Other items can be wired onto the greens or onto small wooden stakes and then poked into the greens. With artificial wreathes, a glue gun or zip ties may also come in handy for holding things in place.

Once everything is secure, it’s time to hang your new wreath for all to enjoy!

Carey Erdman, Erdman Design
Interior and Exterior Landscape and Holiday Design for Greater Boston

Carey Erdman is president of Erdman Design, a firm dedicated to enhancing homes and gardens through interior design, urban gardening, flowers for special occasions and holiday decorating. Examples of their work can be found at

Prior to officially getting into the design business seven years ago, Carey worked with satellite imagery and aerial photography, primarily for the defense and intelligence communities. He also served as CEO of a high-tech software company for ten years before making this rather drastic career shift.

In his spare time, Carey volunteers with Community Servings, Boston Natural Areas Network, and the Claremont Neighborhood Association. He also sings with the Cantata Singers, the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops. You can reach Carey at (617) 816-6467 or at

Please note: Not all wreath decorations are available at all 8 stores.

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great ideas and suggestions

thanks for being so specific about steps and considerations, this is advice I can use!

Custom wreath making

So glad you found this helpful - that's the goal!


Great job, on the wreaths and the writing!


These wreaths are inspiring! Very nicely done.

Carey's advise on wreath making

Carey Erdman's article on making holiday wreaths is very helpful. The pictures are excellent as well.

loved the suggestion about

loved the suggestion about wire ties! that's brilliant. Even kids can handle that.


Make it a theme... memorabilia, sports lovers, bling lovers (me). Wreathes for the whole family! Great ideas!! thank YOU:)

Helpful article

This is a very helpful post as I'm making my very first Christmas wreath this year. With so much to think about I was overwhelmed with the process but this post took me step-by-step through the steps of how to plan out my project. Thanks for such a fun read! ~Catherine H.

Great article

Lots of good advice from both your wreath and planter articles, Carey -- thanks!

When I was a child on the North Shore, my dad owned 14 acres of wooded property around our house. We never, ever bought wreaths; we'd collect everything from the woods. Even my Italian grandmother would come to gather mosses for her Nativity creche (I believe that she was remembering the elaborate Christmas presepi scenes, which are outfitted with natural materials). Our wreaths were made of Princess Pine wired to coat hangers. I believe Princess Pine is endangered now, but back then it carpeted the entire property -- and what beautiful, full wreaths it made, dotted with pine cones.

I live on the Cape now, but at Christmas time, I eschew the typical seaside theme, and go back to my woodsy childhood with trees and wreaths decorated with pine cones, acorns, and forest animals. And, yes, the selection at Mahoney's in Falmouth is fabulous!

Buon Natale,

Thanks for the response

Thanks for the response Judith. I would love to have seen some of your family's creations made from the things you could gather in the woods - they sound wonderful!

Wishing you all the best of the season,


Floeist shops

Several years ago there was a very nice florist shop at your East Falmouth location. I was a regular customer. What happened?

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