Knock knock knock.
Know what’s expensive? Christmas!
Now don’t misunderstand, I am more than accustomed to emptying my wallet for a pair of $1000 sneakers or a ridiculously overpriced backpack, but if I can save money on something, I will. Someone I was very close to used to say, “Austin, you will drive across town to save a nickel on an orange.” Accurate! What can I say? It’s my legacy. My great-grandmother was a Scot, like, off the boat immigrant. Scots are cheap. Ahem, frugal.
So when it came time to decorate for Christmas this year, I was confronted with two realities. If you invest in artificial pine things you have to STORE THEM. If you buy real throw away pine things, you still pay an arm and a leg and then you chuck it in the bin on January 2. Both of those options seemed unacceptable.
I live next to a Whole Foods. Like there would be no asking my neighbor for a cup of sugar because my neighbor is Whole Foods. I noticed they had put up a makeshift Christmas tree lot and the guys who worked there were trimming branches off the trees and putting them in the trash. Hmm…
So I decided to ask them for branches. Worst thing they could do is say no. But they didn’t, so up to my apartment I trekked, loaded down with two great arms full of aromatic fresh pine boughs. I got out a 5 gallon bucket and put some water in it. I put the ends of the branches in the water until I was ready to work with them to keep them nice and verdant.
As pretty as my pine branches were, I wanted to amend with some other varieties of plant. Cypress, juniper, boxwoods. You’d be surprised how many overgrown shrubs you see when you are thinking about gathering branches. So I started asking people: May I trim your shrubs? An odd request, I admit. But it worked and I came home with a sack full of cypress, juniper, and boxwood. If I had been in Texas, I would have used those waxy leaves from magnolia trees. That would be gorgeous. Maybe next year.
Now to construct a foundation. I just used three layers of stiff cardboard. I turned a round table upside down and traced a big circle. I then found a mixing bowl and traced the internal circle. I had about 3 inches of width to work with.
I hot glued the layers together. I brushed on some acrylic paint, but I mixed white and dark green together as I brushed so that it had dimension.
We have arrived at the Dollar General portion of this project. So far we have spent about zero dollars, especially if you have old paints available.
Your dollar store is going to have everything else you need. Fine gauge wire, a couple feet of ribbon and a handful of ornaments.
Now let’s build. I would advise that you either do this outdoors, in your garage, or put down a plastic sheet or something. This project is messy.
Lay your foundation on a flat surface. Cut about 8-10 inches of branch and just start layering, working backward. Branch, wire, branch, wire. At first you are probably going to think Wow, this looks like some kind of shitty 3rd grade arts and crafts project. Keep at it. Fill it out as you go. If you make the circumference of the wreath and it looks anemic, get more branches and keep shoving. You can continue shoving supplemental branches in existing wire. Do that until you reach the desire fullness.
Embellishment time. I cut 10-inch segments of ribbon and hot glued the ends to the back of the wreath on opposing sides. Then I wired clusters of ornaments together and wired them into the greenery. It’s basically like decorating a tree. Be creative.
In all honesty, I almost pulled all the ornaments off after I put them on because the simple greenery itself was really stunning. You be the judge. Sometimes less is more.
Time to hang. I had a hole available on my door that I could easily put a wire through. You might need a 3M hook or something like that. I am sure you can figure it out.
Here we are at the end. I spent about $4. Not bad indeed.
Now get to work! Send me photos of your endeavors!
Out for now,
The Gentleman Caller