Thanksgiving Wreaths

by Ellen Ruoff Riley

Take these simple, affordable ideas, and decorate your house from the front door to the table.

Warmth" and "welcome" are key words for the holiday sason. Instead of waiting until Christmas to decorate, take the lead at Thanksgiving, and fill your home with these lush, surprisingly easy-to-assemble wreaths.

Fresh flowers make these projects perfect for when company is coming. After the blooms fade, replace them, or fill in the blank spots with colorful leaves and dried grasses.

Do the Door

Reasonably priced chrysanthemums make the wreath at right an inexpensive yet stunning Thanksgiving greeting. Don't think for a minute that these are ho hum flowers. They offer several endearing qualities. Color variety tops the list, but a close second is their stamina. Some of the longest-lasting cut flowers, they are great for a project such as this door wreath.

A good rule when choosing mums is this: Smaller flowers such as button, cushion, and daisy mums live longer (up to 10 days with adequate moisture). Larger blooms-'Red Rover,' football, and Fuji mums-hang in for about a week. Add moisture to the florist foam daily using a turkey baster.

Choose an oval grapevine wreath for a slightly different spin on the classic shape. You'll find this and other options at crafts stores.

* To assemble the wreath, start by cutting a piece of moist florist foam to the desired length for the flower holder.

* With wire snips, cut a piece of chicken wire to fit around the foam, squeezing the edges to hold the wire in place.

* Secure the foam to the wreath in several places using florist wire.

* Begin inserting flowers at the bottom, clustering each type of mum for the best look. Work up the side until all flowers are secure in the florist foam. Add leaves, dried grasses such as sorghum, and feathers to fill out the arrangement.

Around the Table

When you serve a special meal buffet style, plenty of room remains on the table for a wonderful centerpiece. This idea works well on a round or square dining table, or you could pair them up on a rectangular table. When choosing the size of your wreath, remember that the edge of it should lie in front of each place setting without getting in the way.

* Mark the place settings with florist foam pedestals (available at crafts stores) or 2-inch cubes of florist foam. Moisten them, and cover each with a layer of damp green decorative sheet moss. Snuggle them into the wreath in the appropriate places, fastening them with florist wire, if needed.

* Cut rose stems 2 inches below the blooms. Push them into the foam holder so they're touching each other. Cluster button mums and fall leaves around the roses. Rest a small pear against each form, securing it with a florist pick or cutoff wooden skewer.

* Fill the wreath center with colorful leaves gathered from the yard. Mound them up a bit so they're visible to seated guests. Select the prettiest, and tuck one into each folded napkin.

* Welcome each guest with a personalized invitation to the table. Purchase autumn-inspired place cards, or create your own. Then insert them between the vines of the wreath.

* Large oak leaves make wonderful decorations under glassware. For extra sparkle, coat them with metallic - spray paint. We used a burnished brass color for a warm luster.