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Resplendent in fruits and leaves of the season, graced with velvet and ribbons, or simply highlighted with a solitary ornament, wreaths, garlands and bouquets are easy to make and wonderful to receive – especially when you’ve made them with materials from your garden.
Like giving certain flowers to imply messages -- love with a white rose, remembrance with forget-me-nots -- you can decorate your wreath or hanging with items that are especially meaningful to you. If you're giving it to a friend, include items of special significance to just the two of you will make it all the more a treasure. It can commemorate a special day or event, or just celebrate your camaraderie.
In ancient Rome, circular wreaths were symbols of victory and celebration. In 16th century Germany, fir or spruce wreaths were laid flat on a table with a candle lit on the first Sunday of Advent. Today, the wreath symbolizes continuity and tradition.
Evergreen boughs brought indoors by Druids were honored as sacred plants that didn't die, and hence that the house would also survive the winter. Primitive tribes in Europe hung evergreens above their doors during the winter solstice to offer woodland spirits shelter and, they hoped, bring good fortune and health. Today's garlands continue to brighten our doors and window sills, mantels and tables.
Your creation can be as simple as a bunch of favorite herb branches tied with a ribbon, or as complex as a large and intricate wreath embellished with many sentimental items from a person's lifetime. It can be as fancy or as plain as you want, worked on for weeks or completed on the spur of the moment.
Materials can encompass anything you can get your hands on -- from grapevine trimmings off the back fence and herb sprigs from the kitchen garden, to pine cones from an excursion to the foothills, to posies you dried or chili peppers you strung last summer, to ribbons galore from the fabric store.
A great way to find unexpected possibilities is to wander the aisles in craft stores, trying many combinations of textures and colors to see what strikes your fancy. Matching ribbons and other bits and pieces to friends' personalities is always great fun -- choose posies for a flower lover, bicycles or running shoes for a sports person, or stuffed cacti for someone who's blustery but soft-hearted.
Looking at "regular" items in a new way can also reveal many opportunities. Green and red bell peppers add holiday colors to a wreath on the front door. An oddly-curled overmature Armenian cucumber or long-necked gourd becomes the focus in a table arrangement. A tree ornament becomes special when it's the only one on a wreath hung on a child's door, signifying his or her special place.
Anything and everything becomes fair game when it comes to decorating. The essence of creativity is bringing materials together in a new and exciting way -- it's all up to you and your innate cleverness and sense of humor.
Some Materials to Consider