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How to Make a Classic Vermont Balsam Wreath: A Step by Step Guide

After Christmas trees, our most popular item is a classic Vermont balsam wreath. Whether hung indoors or outside, balsam wreaths bring the unmistakable scent of Christmas close to hand. It is a fun project you can easily make by yourself, with friends, or with children.

Make Your Wreath

This tutorial is for a hand-wired balsam wreath, but get creative and use what you have available! The process is the same with other types of greens. Pine, cedar, spruce, juniper, and other types of fir trees work great too.

First, gather your tools. You will need:

3-4 pounds of balsam branches

12” wire wreath frame Pruners Floral wire on a spool Wire cutters (if your pruners don’t have a wire cutting notch)

Now let's make that wreath:

Attach wire to your wreath frame by wrapping the wire a few times around the frame.

A person twists wire onto a wreath ring

Cut your branches into tips that are 8”-12” long. Make a small bundle of tips. For a regular door sized wreath, the balsam tips should extend a few inches past your fingertips when held against your hand. The balsam tips I’m using are very full, so I only need 3-4 tips per bundle. With flatter tips (such as cedar) you may want to use 7-8 tips.

A woman holds up a small bundle of balsam branches

Set the bundle on your wreath frame where you attached the wire. The bundle should have at least 4” of stem sticking past the wire attachment so you can wrap the wire three times around the stems, moving 1⁄2”-1” around the frame with each wrap.

A person wraps wire around balsam branches, attaching them to a wire frame.

Continue making bundles. Attach them overlapping the previous bundle, so the green tips cover the branch ends you wrap the wire around. Continue adding bundles until the wreath is almost finished.

A women adds balsam branches to a half-finished wreath

When you are almost done the wreath, the branch ends need to be tucked underneath the green tips of the first bundle. Hold the first bundle back with one hand, and slide the branch ends of the last bundle underneath them. Wrap with wire until they are snug against your original wire attachment.

A person tucks the last bundle of branches into a wreath.

Flip you wreath over. Cut the wire, leaving an extra 12-16” of wire.

A person cuts a wreath loose from a spool of wire with wire cutters.

Secure the wire by looping it a few times around the wreath frame. Make a hanging loop with the extra wire by twisting the wire around itself.

A finished wire loop is directly above a person's hand on the back side of a balsam wreath

Once your wreath is complete, check for any gaps and adjust as needed. You can gently comb the branches with your fingers, or trim long ends that stick out. The end result should have rough circle inside and outside. Enjoy your finished wreath!

A woman wearing a red and black flannel shirt holds up a balsam wreath.

A few more tips:

• It may help to make your bundles ahead of time, so you can make sure they are similar sizes and weights. Try to space them evenly around your ring.

• Pay attention to covering the branch ends. You want a lush, full wreath with no bare patches.

• You can easily combine different types of greens for a different look. I make mixed green wreaths by putting one piece of pine and one piece of cedar on top of my balsam bundle. This evenly distributes the mixed greens around the wreath.

• If you end up with a bare spot, but a bow or some pinecones over it. Nobody will ever know the bare spot was there.

• To make a wreath last longer indoors, hang in a cool spot away from direct sunlight.

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