Disclaimer for the next month: I get a little intense about Christmas.
I may or may not have been listening to "All I Want for Christmas Is You" on repeat since Thanksgiving, and it looks like my living room has been possessed by Santa's elves, if the elves were less North Pole workforce and more throwing glitter bombs and eco-friendly wrapping paper (more on that later) and nursing cheap red wine. This blog is about to go nuts.
So I was thrilled when a friend had an extra ticket to Gathering Events' holiday wreath and mantle workshop at the gorgeous Aiken Rhett House! I've always wanted to go to a wreath workshop and couldn't justify coughing the dough, but I had so much fun at this one, I've decided to make it a holiday tradition.
It was a sweet, inspiring morning at one of Charleston's most beautiful historic homes, and I loved getting to play with all the festive greenery when it came time to make my own wreath (not pictured in this post). The part that impressed me most, however, was how many foraged elements the ladies used in their mantles!
So naturally, I went home and dug out some old wreath forms I had stored in the depths of my carport closet. Armed with cutters, floral wire, and the forms, it was time to get down to business.
After texting the boyfriend to warn him I was probably going to get arrested for "urban foraging" in the name of Christmas (poor, sweet man), I headed back to the lot where I got my Christmas tree days earlier. Though you can definitely make a wreath without the traditional evergreen base, the guy who sold me the tree mistakenly said I could come back whenever and as often as I wanted to scoop up the clipped and discarded branches. He had no idea that would mean three separate trips in two days.
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Once I loaded up the car with everything other than the pokey needle branches (tiny rant: what sort of maniac buys and decorates a tree that is literally going to stab you and leave marks every time you touch it? Do you WANT to look like you went to a cat rave? Bah HUM BUG.), it was time for the sketchy part to begin.
All I could picture was trying to explain why I was prowling around with giant hedge clippers under one arm and tufts shrubbery in the other, as the police cuffed me with Mariah Carey joyfully howling on repeat in the background. So I opted for a less trafficked area for my foraging, though that made it feel even weirder since "remote" actually meant the scrub brush/patch of weeds behind the loading dock at Harris Teeter. (I'm picturing the workshop leaders reading this in horror. This is probably NOT what they had in mind.)
But I didn't get arrested, thank God, and look at the amazing things I found! I fell in love with these powdery little white flowers, and I loved how they looked against the waxy, vibrant green from whatever evil pokey plant those leaves came from. Those leaves were so pretty but had the sharpest points.
At the workshop, they suggested spritzing any delicate greenery that seems prone toward shedding with hairspray, which is a very handy tip to keep in your back pocket.
My next favorite finds were this reddish evergreen material and the brighter green leafy thing in the top left corner. I have no idea what any of this actually is, and if you're going to replicate this craft, you should probably learn to recognize poison ivy before you go.
The final two foraged elements that I gathered up were these soft, downy tops to some sort of grass/weed thing, and some pine cones (shake them hard to make sure there are no current crawly residents). Then it was back to the house to let the real work begin!
The first thing I did was mix and match textures until I knew what elements I wanted in which of the three wreaths I was making for my mantle. Then I spritzed the shedders - those flowery things and the grassy thing was making it snow in my living room - and divided my greenery into bundles, and secured them with floral wire.
Once I was working with the bundles, I wired them to the wreath form all going in the same direction, and circled back to fill any holes. Finally, because I can be a little extra when it comes to the holidays, I added some glitter to a pine cone and wired it onto the sea grass wreath.
The one with the red evergreen bits was absolutely my favorite, but I love them all in their own way! It's a fun, natural look for the holidays, and I love that my mantle is decked out with Lowcountry goodness and branches slated for the curbside pick up. Aaaand since I already owned the forms and wire, it didn't cost me a thing.
So as you're primping your house, front door, or table for your next ugly sweater party or holiday potluck, consider grabbing your garden sheers and forage some local greenery instead of paying for flowers shipped from half way across the planet. I'm not going to beat you over the head with statistics for the holidays, but this is the better option.
(Note: don't you DARE forage in your bitchy neighbor's yard. You know that's wrong.)
If nothing else, it will make your centerpieces quite the conversation piece! Check out the gallery below for more photos for inspiration, but first, here's a teaser image from this weekend's first of three posts about how and why you're not going to buy any gift wrap this year... right?!
How And Why You'll Be Using Thrift Wrap This Christmas.
Tune in this weekend for more festive, green goodness!