Christmas wreaths have been used symbolically for centuries, with the circular shape signifying eternal life, since the wreath has no beginning and no end. The ancient Romans are credited with hanging wreaths on doors, and ancient cultures believed that putting plants in a circular form symbolized the power of life to overcome the harshness of winter. Some believe the wreath is symbolic of the crown on Jesus Christ's head, symbolizing resurrection, eternal life, peace, joy and contentment.
While we may have lost the mindset of winter magic and eternity in wreaths, it's still a top tradition to accent them for holiday decor. The wreath itself may be made of traditional evergreen or more decorative bay leaves, eucalyptus or other greenery that adds a fragrance to the wreath, whether it's hung indoors or outside.
Decorating wreaths is often a family holiday tradition, a craft shared by adults and children who pick out this year's "theme" for the wreath and shop for decorative accents. They might choose a traditional design, as they do every year, or they might get artsy with a bright pink wreath accented with all-white ornaments and ribbon bows. They might create six different wreaths, hanging one in each room of their homes, or hang a trio of matching all-green wreaths over their fireplace.
Wreath decorating has become an art, and the freedom of creativity adds fun and flair to holiday preparations. Here are some of the top trends in Christmas wreath accents in the categories of Traditional, Eco-Friendly and Trendy:
--Traditional. The basic wreath, for those who embrace simplicity and generations-old tradition, is most often decorated with a large red ribbon bow at the top or bottom of the wreath or is 'dressed' with a dozen small red ribbon bows throughout the circle. Traditional add-ins include pinecones in natural colors, holly sprigs, cinnamon sticks, dried flowers, a small bell, fresh or silk roses or mini ornaments, especially old-fashioned glass ornaments from the 1920s, 1930s and other vintage eras.
The traditional, romantic, Victorian-inspired wreath can be accented with tiny paper rosettes, which you'll find on Etsy or in craft stores. Jo Pearson, creative expert for Michaels and judge on "Craft Wars," suggests ribbons and ornaments.
--Eco-Friendly. The green decor trend is extremely popular with homeowners, who opt to accent their all-natural greenery wreaths with such items as pinecones found on their own property, as well as sprigs of decorative grasses cut from their landscaping. Sophie Uliano, author of "Gorgeously Green," says that dried orange slices and organic herbs such as rosemary, sage, lint, parsley, thyme, bay leaves, oregano and basil are fragrant, natural items more often used in holiday decor. Williams-Sonoma adds a useful factor to the kitchen wreath, assembling herbs without glue, so that herbs may be snapped off the wreath and used to prepare holiday dishes.
Other all-natural wreath accents include fresh or dried lavender, anise, and cinnamon sticks. The experts at Organicbouquet.com assemble a variety of eco-smart and unique accents such as myrtle, strawflower, statice and larkspur, and their simple green wreath accented by a single, elegant calla lily creates a lovely look for a formal living room decor motif, especially when hung above the fireplace. OrganicBouquets.com says that the all-green motif is a popular one, with their wreath accented with coffeeberry, salal, and manzanita.
For that romantic Victorian Christmas look, sprigs of Queen Anne's Lace tucked into the wreath gives a delicate, feminine touch.
Seashells can create a unique wreath style and add sentimentality if you use seashells found during a family vacation this year. Garlands made of thin moss roping can be entwined in your wreath for a unique color pop and textural design.
--Trendy. Trendy wreaths for a more artistic look have plenty of sparkle, shine and "bling" added. Clusters of pinecones can be spray-painted glittery white or silver, and for "wow" factor, the glitter-cover can be a rich purple or blue hue. Following a popular fashion trend, sparkly costume jewelry brooches can be clipped onto the wreath for extra dazzle.
Speaking of shine and sparkle, make bows from sparkly ribbon. At Trendy-Tree.com, you'll find metallic mesh ribbon in silver, gold, copper, red, green and lengthwise white, silver or red stripes. Wild laser foil ribbons in gold, silver or copper add shine that can coordinate with the silver, gold or copper items in your room's decor.
As a twist on ribbon bows, consider shiny and colorful Deco-Flex Tubing Ribbon in fuchsia, lime green, purple, red gold, iridescent pink, white silver and other colors for a more playful ribbon, bow or loop design added to your wreath.
Crystals have never been more popular in holiday decor, so you can coordinate your living or dining room wreaths with the crystals in your chandelier by adding a number of crystal dangle accents to your wreath or entwining your wreath with strings of clear crystals. And strings of mini LEDs wrapped around your wreath before additional decor let your wreath glow with festive holiday charm or trendy bright colors.
Pearson says that feathers are a top trend for modern, artistic wreaths, and she has used yarn to wrap the entirety of a wreath form to add extra color and a unique look to her wreaths. Get creative with craft supplies you have on hand, and your wreath will be a thing of beauty.