Christmas threw up in my living room — and then this happened

christmas-ornament-wreath-1I collected lots and lots of vintage Christmas ornaments at estate sales this year — so this past weekend, I unpacked the stash and invited three friends to a wreath-making party at my house. It was a blast! Continue scrolling to see what happened after Christmas threw up in my living room…

vintage-ornament-wreath-1-2Honestly. The photo above does not even begin to convey the mass of ornaments I had. Before I *organized* as shown here, all these ornies were in boxes. With friends scheduled to come over on Sunday, I spent all day Saturday taking ornies out of boxes and then putting them into laundry baskets by size and color. I filled three contractor bags with smushed icky boxes. I filled at least three laundry baskets with good boxes to use to make shadow box dioramas.

vintage-ornament-wreath-2Above: My victims friends. From left, that’s Melanie Mowinksi (I’ve written about her here), Karen Arp-Sandel (my collage teacher) and Diana, friend and glue-gun novice. I did not end up making a wreath — I was the teacher and design coach. Everyone said I was a good teacher. That made me so happy!

vintage-ornament-wreath-5vintage-ornament-wreath-3vintage-ornament-wreath-6vintage-ornament-wreath-7Everyone’s prework was to read our complete tutorial and to watch the video, too. Everyone did their homework, so we got right to it!

They also brought vintage ornaments from home to work into their wreaths. And don’t forget the high-temp glue guns and lots of glue!

Their other homework was: What to bring for lunch? I bought quiche [1@broccoli and cheddar, 1@nicoise] and butternut squash soup [made with apples and maple syrup] from Guido’s… Melanie brought mesclun with blue cheese, walnuts and home-grown pears… Karen made cranberry walnut bread…

christmas-ornament-wreath-1-2… and Diana brought Ice Glen and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Which no one drank. The *leftovers* are for me, which I kinda sorta needed after everyone left, because see the photo above — in all honesty, that’s what the day felt like to me. My head was spinning! It was actually kind of hard hosting this event. But very gratifying. Especially because I got to give tips to artists, which I think really helped them. And the wreaths turned out great. Everyone was very excited and said they loved the project.

Making a wreaths without “mistakes” is very challenging

I will repeat: This is a very tricky art form:

Making a wreath that doesn’t look like Christmas threw up all over it requires… very careful arrangement of ornaments of varying sizes, colors, designs, shapes and textures… with carefully crafted focal points… with balance and movement… with complementary content elements — all combined like a 3-D puzzle… (mind the gaps and your plane).. using valuable vintage ornaments… applied with high-temperature hot glue that once it’s down, there’s pretty much no undoing.

The biggest issue I’m working on, in terms of continuing to build my own skills: Getting all weebits, especially the larger pieces, to sit properly on the same plane as the others; on my wreaths, I am not satisfied when they are either “recessed” right onto the tinsel wreath sitting below the plane of the rest of the round ornaments… or, when they sit way on top of ornaments such that they brake above the plane…. or, when they kinda meet the right point but require too many little ornies all around them to make it work. Stuffing tinsel underneath solves for a lot of issues, but then, that can get overdone. What the heck, as you can see, I am not just cranking out wreaths, I am really working on the form. Just for the challenge of it.

But — all that said, this project is also like a lot of Do It Yourself projects: Because you are the “Y” in “DIY,” you know your “mistakes” — you kind of fixate on them. But show the project to others, and they don’t see any mistakes. They see the overall effect — which is likely pretty darn awesome.

vintage-ornament-wreath-8Mr. Retro Renovation hid downstairs most of the day, but did emerge to check out the action mid-afternoon. By then, the wreaths were really coming together.

vintage-ornament-wreath-13vintage-ornament-wreath-26Starting out with some ornaments she brought from home, Karen made a wreath focusing on the colors blue, silver and red.

christmas-ornament-wreath-1vintage-ornament-wreath-2-2Melanie used aqua, silver and a touch of gold.

vintage-ornament-wreath-10vintage-ornament-wreath-1-3Diana did the classique red-green-silver-gold.

Seriously. Making these wreaths is so peppermint stick thrilling, I can barely stand it.


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  1. Miya Stigler says

    I too bought alot of old ornaments throughout the year with wreath making in mind. I made 2 the past few Sundays and it is more challenging than you would think. I found myself overthinking it and probably put more ornaments on than needed. I mixed new and old
    ornaments because of the amount/color needed. It is a fun project and I will be making more if I have enough ornaments! So glad I saw them here. Here’s a picture of mine: [edited — Miya, that link did not work – Pam]

    • pam kueber says

      Yes, it’s hard… I started making my first one of the year last night… and got very frustrated. “Over thinking” it — yes.

      I have another tip: If once you get going you think you could use more “specials” (the very decorative most precious ornies) for the front, set the wreath aside and the next day, go to a thrift store that carries ornies and even if you need to pay retail, pick some to order (according to your colors or needs). That’s what I’m doing today. I am going to the vintage shop in Lee and planning on dropping another $25 or $30 to get up to… 9 more ornies for the front of the wreath I’m making for my aunt.

      That is: If you are ornie hoarding all year from estate sales and the like, and even if you have a lot, you may not have exactly what you need to create the wreath in your mind’s eye. You may need to buy strategically to make it *perfect*

  2. Allen says

    Pam this even looks so Christmasy and nostalgic seeing your friends make their wreaths in your well appropriated home. Thanks for all the time you put into this portal.

  3. Judy P. says

    I loved all of them! Great job! As someone who is artistically challenged, I know this was no easy task. I want one!!

  4. Mary Elizabeth says

    Good job, Pam! Thought I’d made all the ornament wreaths I was going to make during the spring, preparing for a “Christmas in July” sale at church. Then they asked me to run a workshop (slightly different design from yours, Pam). Now I am picking up ornaments again, but for what I am not sure. Ornie hoarding is a hard habit to break. At Christmas, I have two mini trees in my ranch, one traditional and one “Cat’s Meow” themed, so I don’t need ornaments for trees. Definitely like the pot-luck party idea, and will likely do that.

  5. Robin, NV says

    Too much fun! I love that each artiste went with different color schemes and came out with three unique designs. Love these! Wish I could find vintage ornies for myself.

    Also – can’t wait to see Kate’s next putz house. 🙂

  6. Diane in CO says

    Oooh, these are fantastic! But I can see what an effort it was for the hostess – that’s a lot of supplies. I’ve been “stashing” too but haven’t made the wreath yet.

    My burning question (no pun intended) is were there any burned fingers? I too will be a glue gun newbie and am a bit nervous about the hi-temp glue. 🙂

    Your home is just lovely!

    • pam kueber says

      I got my worst burn ever! Interestingly, while it hurt when it happened, it didn’t blister my skin.

      Be careful with those glue guns! Be mindful!

  7. vegebrarian says


    Your living room is beautiful! The drapes look perfect against the soft wall color. Is that an apricot beige? It makes the room so cozy.

    • pam kueber says

      Thank you, vege,

      My walls are covered with an off-white grasscloth that has yellowed over time. The draperies have a warm-beige, yes, maybe a bit apricotty, toile design. The afternoon light, which is beautiful in these here Berkshires, streams into the living room and dining room from the west/southwest. So depending on the sunset, yes: It gets pinkish. Quite lovely, imho!

  8. Jay says

    They all look lovely but I’m a sucker for the traditional red/green/gold combo. Just how many wreaths were made? Looks like several hanging on the wall in the background. Must have been a long day but very rewarding. Did you exhaust your stash or do you have leftovers for more wreaths?

    • pam kueber says

      The ones hanging on the wall are ones that I made last year. I got them out and put them up as part of the instruction….

      I am pretty wiped out of “specials” — the super decorative ones for the front of the wreath…

  9. judith hall says

    These are some great pieces of holiday art! I would lose all of my fingerprints with hot glue should I ever attempt a project that called for this mastery of a glue gun. Hail to the ladies who did and do! My money is on Diana’s wreath, what a “Christmas-y” look!

  10. Karen says

    Beautiful pieces of art! I noticed that you always use silver to cover the Styrofoam. Is this a personal preference or does it just look better? Last year after Christmas, I nervously waited until the ornaments were down to 80/90 % off and stocked up on orange, black and purple but didn’t get around to doing any Halloween wreaths. (I’m now fairly certain that there won’t be a rush on those colors, they’re not very Christmasy in any combination:)
    Kate, I too am eager to do a new Putz house. I came across the cutest “putz style village glitter house Travel Trailer
    ( 251682811097 )” on ebay. Don’t know if you can access it.
    Thanks for all the glitter and glitz!!

    • pam kueber says

      I think that silver vs. gold is a personal preference. I do tend to prefer the silver since it’s lighter/more reflective.

  11. tammyCA says

    Your friends did nice work on the wreaths, so you taught well.
    I did make 2 wreaths last year (one as a gift) and they turned out pretty nice except for slight off center. I should’ve kept the wire hanger in view at all times for balance. I also used mostly new & retro looking ornaments since I fear breakage. And oh yeah I got a nasty glue gun burn & blister trying to rush the gift.

  12. Kahty says

    “My name is Kathy and I am a vintage ornament wreath addict”
    I am so happy to see your great party and even happier to know that my dining room full of tubs or ornaments labeled in inch diameters, solids, multi-colors and wee-bits is not a one of a kind situation. I have tried to be very neat and clean during this process, however, after 13 of these beauties, I have given into the Santa’s workshop concept that the dining room is a MESS ,HAPPY, and CONSTRUCTIVE. It all cleans up and you end up with decking your halls with more beautiful wreaths and very special gifts . One more thing: When I design a wreath I usually have a theme. Not just a color theme but themes like playful with elves, religious, angels, whimsical, Santa, deer and bottlebrush trees, rustic, etc. Kinda brings the mass down to size. Love your site. Merry Christmas! Kathy

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