How To Make Your Own Christmas Wreath: Seasonal Hints & Tips In Collaboration With The Zita Elze Flower School
When I was little I used to get all excited about making handmade things for Christmas. I used to go through all the books and magazines, and get oh so excited about making lists and lists of things to make. I never quite got them all done, but something I did always manage to make is a Christmas Wreath for the front door. Fast forward to adulthood. We how have beautiful handmade wreathes we purchased to go on the front and office door every year, so I honestly could not see much scope in making a DIY post. That was until I met the wonderful Zita Elze, the florist behind her eponymous flower school at The White Company’s Christmas Press Day in July, and we decided to team up to put something together for you all.
Zita was the one who inspired my Floral Topped Cupcakes I made this Summer for my collaboration with Whittards of Chelsea, and this is part of the reason I was really excited to get her involved in this post. I am a firm believer in using what is around you (this ties into my love of seasonal ingredients and buying and using local, though it might not be obvious from my recipes as I’ve hopped around from London to France to Kent to Los Angeles a fair bit over the past few years!) so I think everyones special unique Christmas wreath, if possible should be made with what you have to hand. If you are a Londoner, I suggest looking for something a bit more evergreen like holly branches, ivy etc. at markets would be a good starting point (try Columbia Road). Also if you can find things like tiny pine cones inexpensively, or you have a friend who can bring them for you from the countryside one thing I loved doing as a child to make decorations for the Christmas tree was to either spray paint them silver or gold, or dip just the tips of them in PVA glue then a very fine silver glitter so they look slightly frosted. These can be attached to wire using a glue gun then woven into your wreath on a base of either oasis from a florist, or just anything round you have to hand if you are not looking to feed some water into it over the festive season, and you just want your wreath to last a few days, perhaps if you are having friends over for festive celebrations.
As for if, like me you live in the countryside or are lucky enough to have a blooming garden I thought I’d ask Zita for her tips as to what to choose to build your wreath; I knew she’d be more imaginative that my standard ivy and holly I always used to go for!
For your own special Christmas and Winter decorations, start by taking a wander around your garden to pick lots of different foliages. Long trails of ivy, bundles of Scotch pine, eucalyptus and blue spruce are all fantastic. Feathery or fluffy, dainty or spiky, look for many different textures, colours and tones so you have a rich palate to work with. Condition the foliage in fresh, clean water with a drop of bleach. You can spray paint some leaves silver or gold. A metal or oasis ring provides a firm base for a wreath, and a warm welcome to guests arriving at your front door. A few other ideas for using the things you have gathered around your home are to weave a wired garland attaching little bunches of foliages, pine cones and apples onto a rope or beautiful ribbon to adorn the mantelpiece. In the dining room, a festive table decoration with designer candles on an oasis base embellished with foliages, corms, cones and seasonal decorations evokes the enchantment of Christmas. My personal favourite is a topiary tree or simple bay tree decorated with ribbon in a terracotta pot, filled with medium sized apples and crab apples.
Christmas present wise, the Zita Elze Flower School is at Kew, and they do lots of classes starting from the very beginner to advanced florists. Like flowers, the classes are seasonal too. You can see their full course listing and get booking and pricing information on their website. They have some great seasonal and festive classes coming up too, which might be nice if you have a free day to go and learn something new.
Do you make your own Christmas wreath, or any of your own decorations each year? Or, are you like me, usually full of good intentions for the festive season, and the only thing you seem to manage to actually achieve is the same festive baking and Christmas dinner recipes to last year? I spent yesterday, one of my first ‘days off’ in months, reading Nigella Lawson’s Feast and I’ve made a list of festive dishes I want to try this year. Problem is, the only ones I can be sure I’ll actually make are her Maple-Glazed Parsnips and homemade cranberry sauce; both are integral parts of Christmas Dinner for me, and I don’t yet have a perfect go to recipe for either.