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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vintage Christmas Ornament Wreath

My post of November 7 is about how I made my “practice” Christmas ornament wreath. Now it was time to make my real wreath. I had to have this finished before Thanksgiving. Once my open house was over, this was my next project.

Several years ago, I saw this picture in a Mary Englebreit book that I have, Christmas with Mary Englebreit Let the Merrymaking Begin Volume 1. It was also in the December 2000 issue of Mary Englebreit’s Home Companion magazine. I knew some year I would have to make one of these wreaths because I liked this so much. Last year, around the holiday season, I went to some flea markets and antique shops looking for vintage Christmas ornaments. They ranged in price from 25 cents to $3 or more. Since I knew I needed quite a few, I stuck to the less expensive ones. I splurged and bought a handful of fancier ornaments for a couple dollars each.

 Styrofoam wreath form
 Hanger made from florist wire
I started with a 12 inch Styrofoam wreath form. I used green florist wire to make a hanger on the back. I didn’t attach the hanger firmly yet; it could still move around on the form. I wanted to wait until the wreath was completed to decide on the exact placement of the hanger.

 Ornaments sorted by color
 Closeup of my prettier ornaments
I got all my ornaments out, laid them on the table and sorted them by color so I would know which colors to use more of and which to use less of. Here is a closeup photo of some of my prettier ornaments. I had about 108 ornaments when I had gotten them all out and counted.

 First step
I started by arranging some of the larger plain ornaments around the inside and outside edges of the wreath. Then I put various combinations of ornaments with those and on top of the wreath form to see how they might best fit together.

 Starting to glue
Once I had several ornaments that seemed to fit together well, I started the scariest part of the project – actually hot gluing my vintage ornaments to the wreath! This was the scary part when I made my practice wreath, too. Once you get past those first few ornaments being glued down, it’s not too bad!

 Gluing more ornaments
I did this wreath differently from my practice wreath. On my practice wreath I glued ornaments rather randomly around the wreath. Because of that, I had holes on the sides where you could see the wreath, more toward the back of the wreath. On this wreath, I glued ornaments all around the edges first. Since everything was flat on the table, the sides were more thoroughly covered all the way back to where the wreath would lean against the wall.
 More ornaments attached
Once I had ornaments along the inside and outside edges, I worked on covering the top of the wreath. I started using my less plain ornaments on top. One thing I would do differently if I could do this again would be to use some of the different ornaments around the outside edges. They are seen pretty well from the sides, so it would have been nice not to have all plain ornaments on the outside edge.
 Most ornaments attached
It would have been good if I could have had more small ornaments to fill in some of the gaps, but I wasn't able to find many very small ones. However, it worked out just fine with the ornaments that I did have.

 Ornaments on wreath
Once I had the wreath completely covered with ornaments, there were still some pretty big gaps where I could see the wreath form. Having had to figure out how to fill in these gaps on my practice wreath, this was easy to fix. I still had five large jingle bells left from my gold collection, so I tied colored ribbons onto them and glued the bells on next. I also had more of my star garland, so I tucked it into the largest gaps and just worked my way around until all the gaps were filled. Lastly, I draped the plastic beaded rope over the wreath, gluing it wherever it was needed.

 Finished wreath
Once I was able to hold up the completed wreath, I determined exactly where I wanted the hanger. I used a rounded piece of wire which I also glued in to tack down the hanger so it wouldn't more around. I only used about 60 of my ornaments for this wreath. If I can find another 20 or so, I think I'll make another one!

 Vintage Christmas Ornament Wreath

Here's a picture of my wreath hanging. The last two photos are closeups showing the bells, garland and beads.

This was a fun project to make. Looking for the ornaments was a big part of the fun, too. It was while looking for ornaments that I found two of the storage items in my craft room. The biggest thing to remember while making one of these wreaths is that it's going to look pretty ugly with only a small number of ornaments attached. The looks definitely improve as time goes on. Even when halfway complete or more, it really doesn't look too nice. But just keep gluing and then find creative ways to plug gaps at the end and it will turn out just fine!


  1. ohhh your blog is sooo beautiful can i link it on my page plz.
    I'm waiting for your news...(plz post on my page)
    Thank's a lot

  2. This wreath is absolutely beautiful!

    And what a lovely post - great tips - especially saying that the wreath will look better as it gets closer to being finished! That advice will definitely help people who have started the project but are worried that they're doing something wrong because it's not looking good at first!

  3. This wreath is beautiful. I have saved all of my broken ornaments in hopes that I can fit them in somewhere. Can't wait to get started, but will wait until everyone is back at school.