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Merry & Bright

  • By Colleen Egan
  • Photos by Mike Krautter

Hannah Milman combines her love of wreaths and her passion for vintage Christmas ornaments in one simple, stunning holiday project. 

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"I love making wreaths," says Hannah Milman, executive editorial director for holidays and crafts. "One of my favorite things to do is an ornament wreath. I collect ornaments from the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s -- the Shiny Brites. I like all those vibrant colors."

 

And what better way to combine these interests than with an ornament wreath? "I actually was inspired by the wreaths that I saw at Tavern on the Green in New York. It’s not around anymore, but it had these giant ornament wreaths."

 

The finished ornament wreath makes a festive statement, but the project won't wipe out your holiday budget. "What I love is that the ornaments don’t have to be expensive. A little bit of the imperfection in the ornaments means they’re old, and that’s what’s nice.”

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Not Just a Blue Christmas

Not Just a Blue Christmas

The more the merrier is Hannah's philosophy when it comes to color. "I like a mixed palette," she says. "I like it fun and happy and festive." Hannah's favorite vintage Christmas balls come from Shiny Brite, an American company that was a popular source for ornaments starting in the '40s. "There’s a great turquoise, a turquoise-y green, pink, gold, and silver, and sort of a pink-y red. I love using that combination together."

Make the Wreath

  • What You Need
    What You Need

    18-inch straw wreath form

    2 20-foot lengths of two-inch wide tinsel garland

    U pins

    120 2-in. to 3 1/2-in. ornaments

    20-gauge wire

    Wire cutter

  • Start Pinning
    Start Pinning

    Think of the wreath in quarters: Start in one section and evenly disperse ornaments by color around the wreath. Start pinning bulbs to the wreath one-by-one with U pins. Make sure the cap is really secure on the ornament. If it’s loose, tack it with a little glue or hot glue it to the ornament.

  • Other Options
    Other Options

    You can make a smaller version of this wreath using a smaller wreath form and smaller-scale bulbs. Also, instead of using pins, you can hot glue ornaments – especially broken ones – directly to the straw wreaths, which take glue very well. But pinning is a good option with treasured pieces. "I love my Shiny Brite ornaments, so I don’t glue them – I want to be able to take them off the wreath if I want," Hannah says.

  • Prep the Wreath
    Prep the Wreath

    First, create a loop (or multiple loops) for hanging by wrapping 20-gauge wire around the wreath and twisting. Cut to desired length with a wire cutter.

     

    Next, wrap tinsel garland around the wreath, securing at the beginning, halfway point, and end of the wreath with U pins on the back side.

  • Fill In
    Fill In

    Make sure you’re going around the edge all the way on the inside of the wreath. Try starting at the inside of the wreath with the first ornament hitting the table and then around to the other edge, tightly nestling the balls. "The great thing about pinning is that you can take out the ornaments and adjust as you go." Hannah says.

  • Show It Off
    Show It Off

    Display your wreath by either hanging it up on hooks or nails with the wire loops you created. Or, string wide ribbon through the loops and connect the ends with a bow. If you're hanging the wreath in a high-traffic area or just want to make sure it lasts through storage until next year, opt for shatterproof ornaments or a ready-made ornament wreath from Martha Stewart Living's Jingle Brights Collection at The Home Depot.

  • What You Need
    What You Need

    18-inch straw wreath form

    2 20-foot lengths of two-inch wide tinsel garland

    U pins

    120 2-in. to 3 1/2-in. ornaments

    20-gauge wire

    Wire cutter

  • Prep the Wreath
    Prep the Wreath

    First, create a loop (or multiple loops) for hanging by wrapping 20-gauge wire around the wreath and twisting. Cut to desired length with a wire cutter.

     

    Next, wrap tinsel garland around the wreath, securing at the beginning, halfway point, and end of the wreath with U pins on the back side.

  • Start Pinning
    Start Pinning

    Think of the wreath in quarters: Start in one section and evenly disperse ornaments by color around the wreath. Start pinning bulbs to the wreath one-by-one with U pins. Make sure the cap is really secure on the ornament. If it’s loose, tack it with a little glue or hot glue it to the ornament.

  • Fill In
    Fill In

    Make sure you’re going around the edge all the way on the inside of the wreath. Try starting at the inside of the wreath with the first ornament hitting the table and then around to the other edge, tightly nestling the balls. "The great thing about pinning is that you can take out the ornaments and adjust as you go." Hannah says.

  • Other Options
    Other Options

    You can make a smaller version of this wreath using a smaller wreath form and smaller-scale bulbs. Also, instead of using pins, you can hot glue ornaments – especially broken ones – directly to the straw wreaths, which take glue very well. But pinning is a good option with treasured pieces. "I love my Shiny Brite ornaments, so I don’t glue them – I want to be able to take them off the wreath if I want," Hannah says.

  • Show It Off
    Show It Off

    Display your wreath by either hanging it up on hooks or nails with the wire loops you created. Or, string wide ribbon through the loops and connect the ends with a bow. If you're hanging the wreath in a high-traffic area or just want to make sure it lasts through storage until next year, opt for shatterproof ornaments or a ready-made ornament wreath from Martha Stewart Living's Jingle Brights Collection at The Home Depot.

Hannah's Tips

Hannah's Tips

• Buying vintage ornaments doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune. "You can find tons of ornaments at flea markets," Hannah says. "Garage sales are excellent – there’s always a box of ornaments. It’s great to get the same color, because you need about 20-30 of the same color and you want to evenly repeat them."

• Don't overlook damaged items. "You can buy broken ornaments, too. Keep all the caps that you find from broken ornaments and take them off. You can always put a cap in another ornament."

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