How to Decorate your Door for Christmas

Christmas wreath on front door

Last updated on August 15th, 2017 at 12:15 pm

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the trimmings and decorations that set the season apart from the rest of the year.  Install a tree into your living room during April, and your friends and family might begin to think you peculiar. Fail to do so during December and you’ll likely inspire the same reaction.

The doors of your home offer an obvious canvas for Christmas decorations.  This is especially so in the case of the front door, which your guests will encounter on their way into your house.  Wow them with something impressive (and Christmassy) and you’ll set the tone for the rest of the visit.  In this article, we’ll take a look at what that impressive something might be.

Christmas wreath on front door

Festive Door Decorating Ideas

For the most part, Christmas door decorations can be divided into four categories. These can be used alone or in conjunction with one another.

Wreaths

Wreaths are the most iconic of Christmas door decorations.  They’re to be found on front doors across the land – including on the country’s most famous front door, that of 10 Downing Street.  A wreath, traditionally, is a circular assortment of festive flowers and twigs.

Over time, wreaths have got more elaborate and showy.  You can now pick up a wreath that features a flashing LED light display if you’re so inclined. Or, you might prefer to stick with tradition and go for something simple and classic.

Garlands

A garland takes a similar idea to the wreath, but instead of arranging things in a circle, a garland extends them into a cord.  Garlands come in a variety of shapes and sizes; some of them are suitable for hanging around a tree, while others are more suited to being hung in isolation.  The more famous sorts of garland, like beads and tinsel, work well alongside a tree, but not quite as well in isolation.  They might not stand up to the outdoors capably. It’s generally best to use the same sorts of evergreen plants and flowers that you might use in a wreath.  Drape them around the frame of your door, and you’ll be able to more strongly define its outline.

Hangings

Hangings are another form of decoration often employed at Christmas time.  The term refers to any decoration which can be hung – and so includes baubles, stars and wreaths.  Flat hangings are best suited to doors.

Bows

Finally, we should consider ribbons, which can be used to decorate a door directly, or as part of a wreath display. These come in a variety of different styles, but at Christmas the favoured colours are typically red, green and gold.  If you’re using yours as part of a wreath, use bright colours to create a contrast with the browns and greens of the plant matter.

Why do we put a wreath on the door at Christmas?

As we consider what sorts of hanging wreath might work best with our door, it’s worth pondering how this peculiar tradition came to be.  Did someone one day decide that hanging a circular arrangement of branches on a door would be a good idea?  And if so, then why hang a Christmas wreath at all?

As you might imagine, it’s unlikely that the tradition arose in such a manner.  And yet we can’t say for certain how the wreath came be associated with Christmas – or why the tradition came to be popular.  That said, there are a few competing theories.  Wreaths have been around since the time of Ancient Greece and Rome.  You might have seen an adaptation of Julius Caesar (or, if you’d prefer, The Life of Brian) in which roman noblemen are depicted with laurel wreaths on their heads.  In the ancient world, wreaths were emblematic of wealth and status. Anyone with any money or influence would wear one with pride.

advent wreath

The advent wreath we recognise today would not come about for more than a thousand years when the protestant reformation hit Europe. This is thanks to a German friar named Martin Luther.  The advent wreath was used by Lutherans to illustrate the finer points of scripture.  The meaning of Christmas door wreaths centres around the circle, which represents the eternal nature of God.

Centuries later, in 1839, a Lutheran priest named Johaan Hinrich Wichern is credited with using a wreath to illustrate the meaning of Christmas to children, as well as helping them count down to the day itself.  Wichern’s wreath came with twenty-four candles, one of which would be lit every day in the build-up to Christmas Day.  As such, Wichern’s invention represented a precursor to the modern chocolate-crammed advent calendar.

The advent wreath has since spread to most other branches of Christianity. It is traditionally decorated with four candles – which are lit on the three Sundays leading up to Christmas Day, and then the day itself.

Christmas wreaths are made of holly, mistletoe and other plants. A circle of plants is said to symbolise life conquering the influences of winter. Above all, a wreath on your front door is welcoming and brings cheer to visitors during the colder, bleak weather. It will also brighten up your day as you go in and out of your house, which is as good a reason as any to hang a Christmas wreath this year!

How to attach your Christmas wreath to your door

winter door decoration wreath

There are several ways to attach a Christmas wreath to a front door.  Fortunately, you’ll be able to accomplish each of them without drilling holes into the wood.

Command hooks offer a way of hanging up decorations without hammering a nail into surface.  They’re popular in rented and student accommodation, where people wish to hang up decorations without the risk of losing their deposit.  They can hold just over a kilogram of weight, and so are suitable for hanging lighter wreaths from the front door.

On the other hand, there are over-the-door solutions.  These work by attaching to the top of the door, and hanging from a long strip which extends down to the centre.  Again, this method doesn’t need any holes to be drilled or hammers to be wielded.  Yet, it comes with a downside:  the length of the strip often isn’t adjustable, leaving you with a wreath which hangs too high on the door.

Another method makes use of a ribbon and a pair of thumbtacks.  Wrap the ribbon around your wreath and then extend the two loose ends to the top of the door.  There, you’ll be able to hammer in the two tacks, attaching the ribbon to the door.  Ribbons are extremely resistant to tearing, and so will be able to bear the weight of all but the heaviest Christmas wreaths.  If you’ve hammered the tacks all the way into the wood, then you shouldn’t have any trouble opening or closing the door.  What’s more, you won’t be able to see the two tiny holes when January rolls back around.

In conclusion

A wreath is an excellent seasonal decoration for your front door this Christmas.  It’s an item that’s steeped in tradition, and one that’s sure to get visitors to your house in the mood for Christmas over the advent season.  But wreaths come in many forms, and they can be hung in many different ways.  What’s more, there are other forms of festive door decoration to consider, too.

When you’re shopping for your Christmas door decorations this year, think about the overall effect.  Consider the decorations on the internal doors of your house as well as on the front door. That way you’ll be able to ensure a consistent aesthetic all the way through your property.

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