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Get Your Front Door Holiday Ready

By Cassie Livingston
In Features
Jan 23rd, 2014


photo courtesy of Mark Fonville

photo courtesy of Mark Fonville

Fresh-cut Greenery Welcomes Friends and Family Home for the Holiday
by P. Allen Smith

IF I COULD ONLY DECORATE ONE AREA OF MY HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS IT WOULD BE THE FRONT DOOR. For me a door decked out for Christmas speaks to the spirit of the season even more than a Christmas tree.  A door dressed in evergreens evokes a sense of community, welcoming and hope.

As I drive around town in December, I like to look at all the different ways people decorate their entries. The various treatments give me a glimpse of the personalities living in the houses. I suppose my front door says I’m a traditionalist with its subdued colors and fresh-cut evergreen garland and wreath. Many people opt for artificial evergreens, but for me it just wouldn’t be Christmas without the scent and look of fresh greenery. Whether you are old school like me or trying fresh-cut greenery for the first time, I have a few tips that will help you decorate your front door in style.

First step, get your greenery.
Whether you purchase your greenery from a tree lot or garden center, the most important thing to look for is freshness. Choose pieces with flexible stems and dark green color—avoid greenery with yellow or brown areas. Also be on guard for needle drop, which is just what it sounds like. As greenery ages, the older, inner needles drop off the branches. Choose another piece if more than a few needles drop off when you pick it up.

Certain types of greenery hold up better than others. Consider choosing Western Cedar or Noble Fir; these are known for being long lasting, sturdy evergreens.

Second step, prep your greenery.
Once you get your greenery home, take some time to rehydrate it with water and lock in moisture with an anti-transpirant. It may seem like a hassle, but these steps will keep your wreaths and garland fresh mush longer.

First, soak unembellished wreaths, garland and cut boughs in water for 8 to 12 hours. I like to use a clean galvanized tub from the garden. Don’t soak pre-decorated greenery or pieces that were treated with an anti-transpirant at the garden center; if you buy decorated greenery, misting it with water from a spray bottle will rehydrate it sufficiently.

Once the greenery is rehydrated, spray it with an anti-transpirant. An anti-transpirant will seal the pores in stems and leaves, which reduces moisture loss. You can find an anti-transpirant spray at a garden center. Wait a few hours after treatment before you begin decorating.

Be aware that some garden centers will apply an anti-transpirant for you at the time of purchase. If you’re unsure, ask the staff. If they do spray your greenery, don’t soak it overnight or mist it. Let it be to avoid washing the anti-transpirant off.

Third step, gather your materials.
You’ll need to assemble your materials. Start with a few wreaths or garlands. Consider the accessories next. Do you want to add ribbon or bows? How about adding a few strands of lights? Whatever you end up choosing to add to your wreath, you’ll need to make sure you have appropriate hardware for hanging your decorations.

Step four, hang them up.
Worried about the prospect of pounding a nail in your door? Home stores offer plenty of other options. There are inexpensive wreath hangers you can purchase. If you buy a metal one, consider adding a little bit of felt on the underside, where it touches the door to avoid scratching. You can also use command hooks or attach the wreath by a ribbon from the door knocker.

Finally, the decorating stage.
Hang the wreath in the center of the door for a classic holiday presentation. Bookmark it on each side with potted evergreen shrubs to balance the wreath. This look is elegant and simple. You can incorporate other greenery shapes into your holiday decorations— snowflakes, garlands, candy canes all pair nicely with a traditional circular wreath. I like to place candy cane shaped greenery behind my porch lights, framing the center wreath on the door.

You can also add a decorated garland to the top of your door frame. These surrounding pieces frame the door and complement the wreath in the center.

Lastly, don’t limit yourself to just one wreath on the door. The size of the door and the wreaths will help determine how to fill the space. If you have double doors, add a wreath on each door. If you have a single door, you can always place a wreath on the top part and another slightly below it. Using a long garland to drape around the entire door frame finishes this look.