Wreath's are a Christmas classic, they are beautiful and festive without a lot of effort and can be stored decorated year to year and look as beautiful year 2 as they were year one if done right. And if you are a Christmas decorator professionally you will definitely want to make sure you have the capability to offer wreaths to your customers. It is a staple that you should make sure you provide.
Now when you decorating large wreaths is always a little different than decorating your standard 1-2FT wreath you will find at your local craft stores. We will do some tutorials for those smaller wreaths but today we want to focus on decorating large commercial wreaths.
Each year we decorate and install a huge amount of wreaths usually in the 4FT+ size range for our customers. Because these commercial wreaths are used in different areas and ways than traditional residential wreaths we have to design and decorate them a little bit differently as well.
First off, we start with a quality wreath that is pre-lit with LED mini lights.
Our wreaths are heavy duty, they are made with sturdy frames, not clothes hanger thickness like your typical craft store wreaths that the metal frames break or lose shape easily. Our smallest wreath we work with is 3FT in size and our largest, well, we don't believe in that word we always can try to go bigger, but the largest we have done so far are 30FT wreaths. For this size you have to have a sturdy metal frame that will hold it's shape.
Another factor is the greenery on the wreath. We believe products should last longer than one season, don't you?
We think that if you take proper care of something it should last for many years. That is why we put our wreaths through rigorous testing in the hot Arizona sun before we will purchase them to make sure they can withstand the sun and won't fade, decompose or turn blue on us the first year or first week they are installed. We've tried wreaths from a number of competitors and they just can't stand up to the sun the way our's do, if you want a list of those to avoid just call us and we can send you pictures and advice on where NOT to purchase wreaths!
Once you've decided on a wreath we like to decide on the color scheme.
We generally like to use at least 2-3 specialty styles of ornaments and then 2-3 colors of plain round balls for color. We also use pine cones and floral picks to add dimension and depth. So make sure you have a wide variety of ornaments and floral items before you get started. Generally we use sizes from 100MM-60MM on our 6FT and below wreaths. When the wreaths get larger you can go up to a 150mm+ ornament but you never want to go so large that it looks like gumdrops or basketballs hanging off of your wreath. Ornaments need to be able to be tucked back in the foliage and become a part of the wreath, not an appendage!
When you've decided on your color scheme you are ready to decide on the style of bow to use on your wreath. 90% of the time we use commercial grade nylon bows. These are sturdy enough to generally last 2-3 seasons outdoors and still look pretty nice year to year when stored properly.
We have also started manufacturing metal bows that last more than double the time of standard nylon bows and look super sharp! They are heavy though so again, you need to make sure that you use a heavy duty wreath with a frame that can support the weight of metal bows. While they don't weigh a ton, they do tend to double the weight of your wreath so plan accordingly on how you will hang the wreath.
Now you are ready to decorate!
We have found that while it is tempting to hang large wreaths upright to decorate, you can usually do a better job if you can lay them flat. This way you can place the ornaments on the wreath, re-position and move them until you get them the way you like before committing to their placement. Trust me, this will save you so much time!
Begin by installing your bow on the wreath.
Whether you plan to have it in the top, or angled on the side, place this first and tie it in well. It is so hard to do this after and get good placement. Make sure it is tucked back into the wreath as close to the frame as you can and this will help it from re-positioning itself over time.
Once you have your bow installed then install your floral sprays.
We generally use at least 4 large sprays/picks on a 3FT Wreath or 4FT Wreath, as you get bigger you will need to adjust for size accordingly. We tend to put them flowing out of the top half of the wreath.
Then you will move on to placing your shatterproof ornaments and pine cones.
Again, don't tie anything in yet, get your placement the way you want it first then come back and wire everything on well. We mirror our wreaths so that whatever we do on one side, we do the mirror image of that on the other side. This means you really only need to focus first on one side of the wreath and getting it looking the way you want, then just duplicate it on the other side and your installation will go much faster. Also, make sure you tuck some items behind and in front of your floral picks and sprays so it will give it the proper dimension it needs.
We use only commercial grade pre-drilled shatterproof ornaments on our wreaths for a few reasons. 1) Our items need to last year to year and not break. 2) We want to be able to redecorate wreaths in the future as styles and needs change. Therefore we don't glue anything on to our wreaths, we only use pre-drilled wired items that we can change out IF they break, fade, or a customer wants a new look down the road.
So we've told you the what to do's, here is our tip on what not to do.
Do not hot glue your ornaments on to your wreath. If you do, I hope you plan to throw the wreath out when you are ready to upgrade because quite honestly it is extremely difficult to ever work with a wreath again that has had this done to it. It might look good year one, but as time goes on and ornaments pop off, you will regret using hot glue. Most high quality commercial Grade wreaths can be used outdoors and last 6+ years so don't limit your self to shorter use because you want to make it easy to decorate. Trust us, it actually can turn into a big mess! If you use commercial grade shatterproof ornaments that have wires drilled into the tips, you won't loose balls anyway and you can quickly and easily wrap the wire around the greenery for a nice snug fit. And best of all no glue burns!
When all is said and done, you should have a beautifully decorated wreath that will last for years and look great from a distance! And best of all when you want to upgrade the look, just remove the old ornaments, spray and wash the dirt out, add new lights if needed and you are ready to start over with a new look for not a lot of money.