An affordable real DIY Christmas wreath (for a rustic mantel)

This DIY Christmas wreath is an affordable way to add natural evergreen branches to your mantel. It’s a perfect fit for a rustic Christmas decorating style!

This DIY Christmas wreath is an affordable way to add natural evergreen branches to your mantel. It’s a perfect fit for a rustic Christmas decorating style!

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This is a story of a Christmas fireplace mantel that took a lot of detours, but ended up amazing, thanks to forced creativity! Isn’t that always the way?

Adding holiday decorations to the mantel for Christmas is a rather big deal in my home since the fireplace is so large, and makes quite a presence in the open concept space. So I like to generally go all out and make it super full for Christmas by foraging for real evergreen branches.

(Because I don’t think I could afford enough faux garland to fill the thing in all honesty.)

Here’s a few examples from the past of some of my fav Christmas mantel ideas and you’ll soon know what I mean…

Past Christmas mantel favs:


Illuminated Christmas Trees mantel sign

Nature-inspired Christmas mantel

Stacked vintage crates Christmas mantel

So about two weeks ago, it was time for my annual drive to forage branches along my fav country road lined with tall evergreen trees. If I wait until after a good wind storm, there’s generally lots to pick and choose from right on the ground.

Loading up my truck, I then returned home and promptly forgot about them. Heh.

By the time I remembered, I picked up a branch and my heart sunk. The needles were turning brown and sprinkled off the branches like rain. Yikes! Glad I saved myself the hassle of redoing it over again then I guess…

So this past week, I needed a Christmas mantel, stat! Christmas day waits for no one so there’s nothing like the ultimate deadline. Once again, off I went to gather branches, but found very little. Oh no.

At this point, I nearly wrote off Christmas decorations for the mantel for this holiday season, BUT not being one to give up too terribly easily, I decided to see what I could do with way less branches than I’ve ever used before.

When a great plan came to mind for the Christmas season! But would it work?

rock floor to ceiling fireplace with metal accents in rustic winter livingroom

It started with a large twig wreath


I’ve had this large rustic wreath made from twigs on the fireplace mantel all year. 

The large twig wreath was picked up many years ago when I went shopping along Route 127 during the world’s longest yard sale. That was quite a parcel to tote home lemme tell ya… But I just adore this wreath because the size is so good for the fireplace!

Anyway, I decided to see if I could morph the twig wreath to resemble a realistic looking evergreen wreath by adding real evergreen branches to it, one at a time.

No glue, no wire. Just broken off branches inserted into the twig wreath. And this was the result…

Real DIY Christmas wreath for a rustic mantel


Real Christmas wreath with evergreen branches

Oh goodness… why have I never tried holiday wreaths on the mantel before?! I don’t know!

I guess I always thought the length of the mantel needed to rule the world first, then the center object would be secondary. But by making the wreath the main feature, the rest just rapidly fell into place.

Other similar evergreen wreaths


I’ve made greenery wreaths similar before like THIS wreath that holds Christmas cards.

And here’s another that’s slightly larger Christmas wreath with a mix of evergreen branches and dried hydrangea flowers.

Evergreen Christmas wreath on a mantel

However this one is simpler in looks, and honestly, easier to make. Isn’t it stunning? I won’t say it’s all that durable as-is. But it’s not going anywhere. Then once the branches dry, I’ll just toss them and I’ll be left with the original wreath again.

One doesn’t even have to commit to this long term. Artificial Christmas wreaths I don’t have to store? I’m all over that! I got rid of those a few years back and don’t miss them at all. I much prefer the realism of adding real branches to make my own version of DIY Christmas wreaths if I can.

Real evergreen branch Christmas wreath on a mantel

And I’m happy to say, I’m proud of this idea!

Want to try making one too? Here’s how I did it:

How to add real branches to a twig wreath


  1. Ensure you start with a twig wreath that is in stable condition.
  2. Snap real evergreen branches (or realistic faux branches HERE) off the main stem to make smaller branches.
  3. Stick each branch into the twig wreath, rotating in a clockwise rotation.
  4. Keep filling it up until you’re happy with the outcome.
  5. Weave some tiny fairy lights into the wreath.
  6. Decorate with pine cones.
  7. Lightly spray with faux spray snow unevenly so the snow looks natural. Double up in some areas.
  8. Add ornaments last.

Read more tips on achieving realistic snow indoors in THIS POST.

If you’re using a standard wreath form like THESE, I’d suggest to use florist wire HERE to attach the branches, which would also make the perfect outdoor Christmas wreaths.

Then I added wrought iron candle sticks, white taper candles, wide burlap ribbon, plenty of large pinecones I foraged last Christmas, and a few neutral and copper Christmas ornaments to the rest of the mantel to bring it all together along with the Christmas tree, which I’ll share soon!

Being that the fireplace is dark, I lightly sprayed the evergreen branches with faux spray snow so they’d pop a little in the evenings. But if you have a lighter wall, that step is an option.

Christmas wreath with evergreen branches

Evergreen wreath with copper ornaments


This is the easiest Christmas mantel I’ve done to date… and I had the components all along!

Ok, except for these larger copper ornaments. I spotted a picture of a Christmas tree decked out in this tone, so when I came across some locally, I grabbed them fast! I just love how the tone adds warmth without too much glam, since I do prefer a slightly rustic touch to my Christmas decorating.

This method would require some hot glue if you desired to try it for a front door, but safely on a mantel, this method worked great and was so easy to do!

So no need to stick to a faux wreath if you prefer real. Grab a few evergreen branches, then bypass the need for faux Christmas wreaths and make your own perfect wreath with the real thing!

Other wreath decorating accessories to add:


  • bright berries or cranberries
  • eucalyptus sprigs
  • magnolia leaves
  • start with a wreath form
  • add smaller bows
  • string red berry garland around the wreath
  • add swags to each side of the wreath
  • use hot glue or florist wire if creating wreaths for doorways

Christmas wreath on a rock fireplace mantel

Full Christmas fireplace mantel


Now I’m glad the first mantel failure was a fail. This wreath is the perfect statement piece being large enough to do the job well. And really warms up this Christmas mantel making it look as cozy as can be. Just in time to add the final touches for Christmas!

And that wraps up this year’s Christmas mantel! Next up is this year’s Christmas tree filled with rustic holiday cheer… coming soon!

What’s on your mantel this year? Think you’ll try a real wreath?

mason jar rim ornament wreath

Other easy DIY Christmas wreath ideas:


Tree shaped ornament wreath for a front door

Mason jar rim Christmas wreath

Branch and cranberry Christmas wreath

Check out all my other unique wreath ideas HERE

Visit all my unique Christmas decor from one page HERE

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Categories: All Cool Projects, Christmas, DIY, Junk Drawer, Seasonal
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7 thoughts on “An affordable real DIY Christmas wreath (for a rustic mantel)

    • Thanks Cindy! I LOVE how it turned out, it was very unexpected and only took a few real branches to make it happen! Once the wreath is dismantled after Christmas, I’m going to add a few prep shots to the original post to actually share how I did it! I really didn’t think it would work so I didn’t bother… haha!

  1. Absolutely gorgeous! Almost all of my outside decorations are made from real evergreens – I don’t want to have to store artificial wreaths, etc. We bought a coil of natural roping to put up on our small enclosed patio & I used all the extra to fill in my barren flower planters in front of the house. The planters look a little wild because I had to twist the roping to get it into the urns, but I kind of like the wildness look with different evergreens sticking out randomly. Merry Christmas Donna! Hugs, Sharon

  2. This is really beautiful. Now I wish I hadn’t given away that twig wreath form that kept getting in my way in my rental storage! Happy holidays!

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