One of the traditions I always love in my husband's family is the lighting of an advent wreath the Sundays before Christmas. My husband Matthias's parents have a tree farm (they do forestry) and therefore not only cut their own trees for Christmas, but also have plenty of pine to make great decorations around the house. My mother-in-law makes advent wreaths for all of the children out of a circle of pine with red candles.
This year my husband and I will be spending Christmas in California. Decorating a palm tree is nice, but doesn't smell as good as fresh cut pine. Luckily, I was able to get my hands on some fresh cut pine and decided it was time for my own traditions. Nevertheless, I still got some tips from my mother-in-law on how to prepare a wreath since it was my first time.
I think it turned out pretty well. The only thing it is missing is candles. Normally, there are four candles placed around the wreath, which are lit each week until Christmas. However, with a one-year-old who just learned to walk, I thought this year candles in a glass might be a big more practical. Therefore, I will still light the candles one by one, just not on the wreath. In Germany, many people also put real candles on their Christmas tree on Christmas Eve. It looks very pretty, but coming from Kansas, I've just seen too many fires first hand to completely enjoy the spectacle, especially when there are kids running around. Hopefully, my children won't hold it against me. When they are older, we can get riskier with the Christmas deco.
Here's the how-to on the wreath:
1. Get some thick wire and make a ring. This is the base for your wreath.
2. Then take some newspaper and wrap it around the ring until it is about an inch and a half thick. Use some thin wire to hold the newspaper in place looping the wire around the ring in a circular fashion. Make sure the wire ends are securely fashioned and not sticking out.
3. Now take small branches, 6-12 inches long, and begin on one side putting the ends of the branch under the wire on the base. Make sure the branches all go the same direction or your wreath will really look silly. You may have to circle around a few times until you can't see the newspaper anymore.
4. Finally, if you would like to add some accents, tie a ribbon around the wreath or add some candles. If you have some holly, dress it up a bit. And, now all you need are some matches...