Simple, elegant wreaths & garlands

Use purchased evergreens, colorful berries, and fall leaves to bring the season home
Jil Peters

Each Christmas, my mother makes an elegant wreath for the front door. She uses magnolia leaves from the tree in the backyard ― the same kind of leaves my cousins and I strung together to make hula skirts when we were kids. I always look forward to seeing the wreath for what it signifies: the holidays, and that we're home to celebrate with family and friends.

Sunset's wreaths and garlands also capture the spirit of this magical season. Stylish, welcoming, and understated, they can be assembled without too much fuss, with purchased evergreens as the starting point. You can use whatever greenery is available; we used noble fir for its thick, dense needles as well as lush cedar. The addition of the simplest pod, berry, or leaf can transform plain greens into enchanting decorations.

You can probably gather many of these natural embellishments right in your own neighborhood. The examples here are intended as guidelines ― use your imagination and local resources to make your own memorable creations infused with a sense of place.

Maintaining wreaths and garlands
As soon as you get the greenery home, spray it with an antitranspirant, available at most nurseries. This will hold in moisture and help prevent foliage from falling from the branches.

You can expect fir and cedar wreaths and garlands that have been sprayed with antitranspirant to last for approximately two weeks inside and at least a month outside (assuming they are not in direct sunlight). For interior use, consider purchasing a spare wreath and keeping it outside in a cool, shady spot until it is needed.