Our tutorial and 30+ tips to make your own vintage Christmas ornament wreath


How to make vintage ornament wreath

I have been ornie hoarding for a few years… and we have Georgia Peachez’ DIY instructions… so I invited my friend Danielle (above) to my house so we could conquer wreath-making together. It was super fun! Our wreaths turned out gorgeous! I am now obsessed with these wreaths! Read on for our 30+ tips to make an ornament wreath of your very own.

Don’t want to use your precious vintage ornaments?

 ornament-wreathschristmas ornament wreathhow-to-make-vintage-ornament-wreath

How to make a vintage Christmas ornament wreath:

    1. Step One — Gather Supplies
    2. vintage christmas ornamentsYou need vintage ornaments and lots of them. My wreath included 75 ornaments. Danielle used 95 ornaments. I used fewer because the ornaments in my chosen colorways were larger, based on the supply I had available. Danielle used more, because a lot of the ornaments in pinks were smaller.
    3. You need vintage ornaments in a variety of sizes. You need big ones for the exterior ring. You need medium-sized for the center wing. You need all sizes for the top layers, although I did not feel that large ones worked so well on the top layer, as they tended to overwhelm. And also really key: Tiny ones to fill in little open spaces and add whimsy-doodle to the front of wreath.
    4. Different shapes are good, too — bells, lanterns, teardrops, the kind with concave thingies in them… different shapes, sizes, textures all add dimension and visual interest.
    5. You need vintage Christmas weebits — I had one knee-hugger elf, but beyond that, I was way short of little somethings to add.
    6. We used 14″ foam wreath forms. I found the best selection at Michael’s. My JoAnn’s did not have the 14″, only 12″ and that looked too small. Michael’s also had a 16″, but golly we were worried about running out of ornaments as it was. JoAnn’s seemed a little cheaper, by $1 per wreath or so, but again,  it did not have as many sizes.
    7. The only place I could find the silver garland I wanted was Wal-Mart. It was 97 cents for 15′. The garland I wanted was not “supersized” (argh!), but rather the modest size that I remember as a child. We used about 20′ of garland per 14″ wreath — so buy extra. Note, eyeballing Georgia Peachez’ wreaths, I think she uses the supersized kind — so that’s okay too.
    8. BUT big tip on garland size: Georgia Peachez says I should not have used the dinky thin old school garland!!! See her comments below. The chunkier garland that she recommends seems to sell for about $3.50 a 15′ strand. To use next year, I am going to buy a bunch at big discount after the holidays.
    9. Supplies and product to hang the wreath. We used picture-frame looped eye rings — two per wreath, with a piece of picture wire hung between them. You will need a wire-cutter to trim the picture wire. BUT, note that Georgia Peachez uses a different method — see her tips below.
my new glue gun

I’m a big gun now: Just bought this bigger glue gun, which has very good reviews on Amazon. Georgia Peachez will approve.

 

  1. High-heat hot glue gun and glue sticks. I used a standard high heat mini glue gun that I purchased at a local craft store, and it seems to have worked well. But now that I have the bug bite bad, I have purchased this Surebonder HE-750 Professional High Temp 2 Heater Glue Gun (affiliate link), which seems to have received a lot of good reviews including for its high heat (BE CAREFUL!). This came in the mail over the weekend — and it looks really substantial. I have planned an activity to make more wreaths with friends who are visiting for Thanksgiving — that’s why I ordered more glue guns. I will report back on how the Surebonder works then.
  2. Scissors to trim your garland and the strings from Christmas weebits.
  3. Cocktails. I had a screwdriver. Danielle, Jack Daniels. But don’t overdue it. You will be wielding a high temp hot glue gun — and you will want to keep your wits about you to ensure an artistic arrangement of your precious vintage ornaments.
  4. Snacks and music. Time to pull out the Christmas CDs. Be sure to include the Chipmunks — my personal #1.
  5. A nice big place to work — we used my dining room table, and a place to stage all your ornaments — an adjacent table or buffet or the link — nearby.
  6. DISCLAIMER: This is the first time we made these. Georgia Peachez’ instructions said high temp hot glue guns, and that’s what we used. We also double-dabbed for added security. But, we used thin garland, oops. Will our ornaments stay attached? We sure hope so!

The basic steps — illustrated — to make a vintage Shiny Brite ornament wreath:

shiny brite ornaments

Gather yee your ornies — all shapes, sizes, styles, colors. In this photo, I show you the SEVEN sizes of Shiny Brites that I have identified. I am finding the largest size hard to find for sale online…

vintage christmas ornaments

I staged the ornaments on the built-in bar next to my dining room table. Before we started, we each decided the ornament color combinations we would focus on. Because we had “only” 260 ornaments to work with, we needed to be sure that we would have enough to complete our designs. We divvied up these ornaments and put them right down on the dining room table with us, so that we could each see what we were working with as we went.

garland on wreath forms

First, though, gather your wreath forms, your garland, your glue gun and scissors. See my tips above on choosing garland — use the thicker, chunkier kind, Georgia Peachez advised me.

wrap wreath forms

Next, start wrapping the wreaths with tinsel. Wind the tinsel around the form… add dabs of glue as you go. I only put the glue on one side of the wreath form. It held really well. I don’t think you don’t need to go overboard with the glue.

add hooks

Once you have the forms wrapped in garland, it’s time to “choose” the back side and add your hanging apparatus. We used eye hooks that screwed in — two of them — then added picture wire. One thing we learned with this method: Make the hole for the eye hook, then, before you put the eye hook in, dollop the hot glue but good down in the hole. Screw in eye-hook thingie. Add more glue. You do not want your wreath to fall! Let glue dry completely then turn wreath back to front side for next step. TIP: NEXT TIME I MAKE A WREATH I WILL INSTALL THE HANGING APPARATUS BEFORE I WRAP THE FOAM CORE IN TINSEL. I think that THIS WILL MAKE IT EASIER TO SEE WHAT I AM DOING — AND GIVE ME MORE CONTROL OVER ‘ENSURING’ THE HANGING APPARATUS IS SECURE. Also note: Georgia Peachez uses a different hanging method, described in her tips, below.

creating vintage ornament wreath

make a vintage ornament wreath

Start gluing. In general, we used two dabs of hot glue on each ornament: #1 to secure it to the wreath substrate. #2 to secure it to the ornament adjacent — this seemed to add extra stability. Fortunately: The glue gun glue is darn forgiving: If a bit spider-webs, it pulls off the ornaments easily.

how to make a vintage ornament wreath

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shiny brite ornaments

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Mix your sizes, shapes, colors, design, weebits and before you know it, you will be the proud creator of a STUNNING vintage ornament wreath! 

ornie-wreath

 #1 key: Have lots of ornaments and weebits to work with.

gold-wreath

2014: I (Pam) made this gold-green-touch of silver wreath, which is among my favorites. NOTE: No ornaments ringing the center — I much prefer NOT including the inside ring. Thanks to my friend Pat Henry of Fashion Doll Quarterly for the photo.

christmas-wreath-retro-renovation

Woah, this one I made in 2014 has a big impact, what with the hanging bells! Also notice the artificial florists picks — I found these at Target. What can YOU think of to add to your wreath? Get creative!

retro-renovation-christmas-wreath

Wreath-making 2015: My first wreath using lots of colors. Note again: I think it looks much better without ornaments ringing the center. Somewhat more of a challenge to do, but I like to see the tinsel peeking from inside the ring.

christmas-ornament-wreath-retro-renovation

A second wreath for the 2015 season. Note the “specials” placed at 4 o’clock, 7 o’clock and 11 o’clock — this kind of spacing keeps your eyes moving around the wreath.

candy-cane-wreath

Pam’s “candy cane” wreath — #3 of her 2015 Kitschmas Krafting Season.

More tips to making ornament wreaths:

Danielle suggested:

  • I thought the building of little groupings and then filling in between them worked well for me.
  • Taking a break and stepping away would be good advice (wish I had done it more often–seeing those two little blue guys in the picture is bothering me–they stand out too much I think). And you can tell them I broke a couple but glued them back so they were hidden! :)
  • Oh, and the bit about seriously gluing the wire on the back, maybe even before the tinsel.

From me:

  • Super key is having a wide selection of ornaments and little trinkets to work with.
  • If you are hunting vintage Christmas ornaments on ebay or etsy, here are the brands I was able to identify: Shiny Brite, Coby, Bradford, Paragon, Commodore. Of course, also use search words Vintage and Old. These things are expensive online — and it takes many ornaments to do a wreath! I can most definitely understand why buying a complete wreath from masters like Georgia Peachez now cost $250.
  • Think carefully about your color selection. An easy rule, if you are nervous about this step: Use two closely-related col0rs (blue & green, pink & hot pink were our choices, based on our ornament supply) and then mix them with silver and gold. Warning: Every time you add one more color, you may be reducing the visual drama of the wreath (and vice versa). I have seen examples of wreaths that use “all colors” or “more color” and they can be gorgeous, too. I’m just saying that, in general, if you are nervous, editing your palette is a more assured way of getting great results.
  • Identify your “big winner” ornaments for the front of the wreath — make sure you give them the most prominent position — build the other elements around them. Clear case in point: Knee-hugger elf should be a star of your wreath!
  • Tilt or angle your knee-hugger elf or other trinkets. The arrangement of the ornaments is not linear.
  • If you have three of something special, put them together. Notice: My three bells and Danielle’s three hot-pink teardrop thingies. Massing of smaller elements like this — in particular in threes — works very effectively.
  • Don’t worry about having the metal parts of the ornaments showing on the front of the wreath. Sometimes I’d have them hidden or tucked under, sometimes I would have them show. I like the patina of the old metal…
  • Don’t worry about having the tinsel underneath show. You don’t want large gaps, though — play with your ornament configurations before committing, and be sure to have a big stash of the tiny orbs before you get going!
  • Invite a friend — double the fun!

Tips from Suzy of Georgia Peachez herself!

So then, I asked the Queen — Suzy of Georgia Peachez — to read this entire tutorial, and if she had time, to provide any pearls. And oh so generously, she did! Here is what she wrote:

Oh my, that was quite an undertaking, writing that tutorial. Bravo, well done, and the wreaths too. OK, so here are my “pearls” of wisdom, all from hard earned experience (and sometimes pain induced too). No particular order here:

  • I do a very simple wire hook on my wreaths. I cut floral wire about 14″ long, bend in half to make a loop, put behind wreath, bring legs around and thru to front and over again to the back, wrap each around loop. Done. This is after tinsel wrapping. Virtually disappears when hung on wall because you are so stunned by the magnificence of the wreath :->
  • Big Lots is another good source for tinsel.
  • I always use thick, shaggy tinsel. Ornies grip it better. Thin, pitiful tinsel is a bad move.
  • I see you have used one of those weenie little glue guns. You can get a decent full size gun for high temp gluing at Joann’s for $20, less the coupon they constantly have, so it is very reasonable at $10-12. No one should ever use those wussy guns for anything. Man up and get a full size gun. I use a commercial grade gun and glue for obvious reasons.
  • High temp glue is absolutely CRITICAL.
  • I don’t put ornies around the middle of the ring. Doesn’t work for me, makes it harder to design on top. Many times what I’m placing on top needs to hang a bit into that center space. I don’t recommend it.
  • Yes, sometimes ornies pop off. The glue just pulls the paint right off of certain ornies. Just reglue it. No biggie. I have wreaths in my collection from years ago and they are just fine. I store them in the attic too.
  • Don’t recommend displaying wreaths outside or even on a porch. I think the cold would shrink the glue too much and then you might get more pop offs. I don’t do it, so I don’t speak from experience here.
  • I make mostly multi color wreaths, but composition is everything. The colors must balance, everything must balance. Lop-sided wreaths make my OCD tendencies flare up real bad. Your instructions on that were spot on.
  • Advise readers: Don’t glue vintage ornaments to an evergreen wreath form. DON’T DO IT. They do not hold up over time.
  • I’ve worked hard to build my brand and wreath business. I work like a dog making as many wreaths as I can because the demand is overwhelming. A very good dilemma to have! The demand is so great that I purchase vintage ornies in bulk and often pay a premium. I will pay up to $4 each for exceptional ones and each wreath has 80-100 ornaments. Elves have gotten crazy expensive too. I use every size from 1/4″ and up to fill in all the gaps. Wreath forms are expensive! I buy in bulk, but they still aren’t cheap.

Look forward to the post on Monday.

xo, suzy

Kate made a video!

Want to preserve your vintage ornaments?

  • For the outside and inside rings (if you do an inside rings), only use plain ornaments. These plain shinys tend to be much more widely available — including from the 1980s from stores like Bradlees and W.T. Grant. I was not a stickler for “Shiny Brites” per se. I was happy to find and use any vintage ornaments from any maker. Key to me was that they were old — and that they had patina. I am soooo into patina.
  • That said, if you are not an absolutely stickler for vintage, you can further extend your use of vintage ornaments by using new ornaments for the outside and/or inside rings. Save your decorative vintage ornaments for the highly-visible top part of the wreath.
  • This week I also plan on testing some techniques to faux-age inexpensive, brand new-ornaments to use on the outer rings.  Stay tuned.

Buy a wreath from the Queen o’ Wreath Making, Georgia Peachez:

We hear from readers, who made wreaths using our tips:

shiny bright ornament wreathchristmas ornament wreath

Reader Erin (above) wrote:

We did it! Our wreaths turned out great. We are so pleased with the results, and we could not have completed this without your detailed directions. I can’t thank you enough for the blog post preview.

I’ve attached pictures of me (Erin), my sister (Andrea), and her weebit (Lenny)…and of course, our wreaths.
We had such a fun day working on this project together.

Thank you for doing what you do!

You’re welcome, Erin! And weebit Lenny: Cute overload! xoxo

ornament-wreaths

Above: Another ornament wreath that Pam made a few weeks later.

Upload photos of the wreaths you make:

Upload photos of your ornament wreaths — (but NOT other decorations, please) — belowTips:

  • (1) Uploader DOES work but message you get on screen *may be* funky and confusing. Upload ONCE and trust the image it there — I just need to “set new photos free” from my control panel and will be checking throughout the weekend to do so.
  • (2) Terms of Use apply.

Add your description (and your name, if you like) right here

Tips to view slide show: Click on first image… it will enlarge and you can also read my captions… move forward or back via arrows below the photo… you can start or stop at any image:

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Comments

  1. Sharon McMahon says

    Haven’t made an ornament wreath yet but not sure why you wrap form in tinsel. The other tutorial I watched glued right to Styrofoam. Really enjoyed yours and learned a lot. Thanks.

  2. Amy says

    I just added my first wreath to the photos. It was so fun having a place to put beautiful & one-of-a-kind ornaments from days gone by. Of course I ended up collecting waaaayyyyy more than I could ever use, and so my daughter and soon-to-be daughter-in-law made themselves wreaths too.

  3. Connie says

    How are you storing these? I made one to sell, then realized how do I pack this so I don’t break it?
    Thanks for your thoughts and knowledge-
    Connie White

    • pam kueber says

      I found wreath boxes at U-Line and plastic wreath storage containers (plastic) at Big Lots and online, too. Do not get the kind with holes in the middle. This is one variety that I have used and it works fine (affiliate link) — http://amzn.to/1MgWdGn

  4. Kate says

    Hi! I’m working on my wreath and am having such fun! I used the shaggy garland and 1/2 my ornaments around the outside and attached to the tinsel, but are wobbly. Is this ok? I’m not sure how to fix this. Also,was planning to hang it outside. I’m using shatterproof ornies though. Has anyone hung theirs outside? I live in Austin so we shouldn’t have snow, but it could get cold. Thanks for posting all of this fun info and photos!

    • pam kueber says

      When my ornaments are wobbly, I add more glue. On the outside rim, I often also glue the ornaments to their next-door neighbor. I do this on the ornaments on the top sometimes, too. Just depends on how “wobbly” they feel.

      I will add: Last year I stored my wreaths in the attic. My attic gets very hot in summer and very cold in winter. Taking wreaths out of their containers, I went very slow. There were a fair number of ornaments whose glue had delaminated. I just hot glued them again and then hung them. So bottom line: Check your wreaths each new season to ensure the glue held, I will guess, especially if they were stored in varying temperature extremes.

  5. Marie says

    All of you are sooo crazy and creative!!! Each and every one is a gorgeous work of art!!! Would b difficult 2 take them down after the holidays!! Kudos and great job 2 u all😃😃

  6. Mandy says

    First of all, the are gorgeous! But how does the hot glue hold up? My limited past experiences with hot glue were unimpressive. I recall it not working well over time and coming unstuck. Is the idea for it to not ruin vintage ornaments in that they could be unglued and taken off in the future? If you plan on keeping and reusing the wreath, I’m thinking a more permanent glue or epoxy might be better? Sorry, when I put in time and effort on an art project, I’m always thinking long term :)

    • pam kueber says

      My hot glue is holding up fine. Yes, some ornaments come loose. Just re-glue them. Important: HIGH HEAT hot glue. Not low heat.

  7. Amy says

    I love your first attempt at a multi-color ornament wreath. It’s joyfully spectacular! I agree about leaving a bit of tinsel garland showing around the inner circle – that’s what I’ve done on the two wreaths I’ve made so far. Two more are in the works.

    I appreciate the tip on the wreath storage boxes, as so far I’ve not found any (in the one place I’ve remembered to ask, my second home, Hobby Lobby)

    I added a couple of photos of my wreaths several weeks ago, but don’t see them yet. Shall I send them again?

    • pam kueber says

      Hi Amy, I’ll check the uploader. I probably have not set them free. (I get emails when photos go into uploaders, but I don’t know which uploader they go to, I have so many.)

      My best place to consistently find wreath boxes (plastic) at good prices is Big Lots. You can also order cardboard boxes in bulk from U-Line. I’m too lazy to go back and read what I wrote before!

    • pam kueber says

      I do not. I tuck the caps in toward the tinsel-covered wreath. Obviously, this will affect how any design on the ornament sits/is visible.

      Some people, when they make the wreath, like to see the caps. Other’s done. I generally don’t. Sometimes, though, I will use an ornament with the cap visible and pointed up and perch a bird on the cap. Personal preference.

  8. Kristin says

    You are a bad influence! I found you last week with your great patterns for retro houses and now have one finished – NOW I want to make an ornament wreath! totally love vintage and how you did it – great job!

    Let me know if there is a way I can shoot you a photo of my competed #3 house – I’m very proud of it!

  9. Michelle says

    Great tutorial! I have a few “keep sake” ornaments that don’t really go with the theme of the tree, but they get hung anyway. However, you don’t really see them. I was thinking that this would be a great way to spotlight them… all in one place.

    I have made several wreaths and I agree with Georgia Peachez, it is better to make a loop and wrap the ends around the wreath. I have never had one fall. The other way you describe sounds like it would work itself out and/or fall out over time and because of the weight of it. And honestly, it is a lot easier to do.

    The wreaths I have made are usually themed decorations. Like I made a wreath for my musician cousin out of copies of sheet music. (I couldn’t bear to use the original copy.) Anyway, I wrapped it in sheets of music, made 3 scrolls and attached a big red bow on it to look like it was holding it. THen I attached musical ornaments around it. I think I used 5, odd numbers are always better. It came out quite nice and I wish I still had a picture of it.

    I have made teddy bear wreaths, snowman, etc., but this year I am going to make nativity scene wreath with a moss wreath AND a vintage wreath with my childhood ornaments I love so.

    Thank you! Great blog!

  10. cheryl rabe says

    Just perusing pinterest and found your site ! I have to say you are truly inspirational ! Amazing and thorough, love love loved it all !
    Just need to find someone to have fun with that is still artsy craftsy and over 60 ! Hard to find at this age in a new state (after retiring)
    Boo Hoo. Keep up the good work, makes me smile every time ! Oh FYI, been saving up “ornies” just for this purpose. Plus alot of xmas dodads for embellishing. May do a santaish, toys, reds and whites, and then a beautiful all shiney brite ish one.

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