The festive wreaths you see on doors and windows in the historic district would have been absent in the 18th century. Although roped greenery was typical indoors, exterior holiday decoration wasn't the colonial norm. So during the neighborhood's early 20th-century restoration, the team in charge of flower arrangements found inspiration for bountiful wreaths in the work of 18th-century Dutch-English wood carver Grinling Gibbons and Florentine Renaissance sculptor Luca della Robbia, who used fruit motifs in many of their works. These are now known as Della Robbia Christmas wreaths.
For a similar look, craft your own wreath from scratch. Keep weather and exposure to sunlight in mind. "If it's going to go in the sun, fresh will cook and dried will do better," says Susan Dippre. Avoid citrus, grapes, pears, and bananas, as they rot quickly, and boxwood and white pine, which brown in the sun. Fresh Fraser fir, noble fir, pomegranates, and apples, as well as dried items like oranges, artichokes, and flowers, keep up appearances. But remember that even dried materials can fade in sunlight.
For your wreath, begin with a double rail frame, (from $3; ). Attach your base greenery, insert straight floral wire in a heavy gauge, like 16 or 18, (from about $6 for 12 pieces; ) through the center of fruit, fold down the ends, fish them through the center of the wreath's double rails, twist, and turn the ends back into the wreath with needle-nose pliers. "Instead of decorating the whole wreath, just make a focal point on the top or bottom with fruit or dried materials," says Laura Viancour.
Similar to shown: Small fruit and foliage wreath, about $180;
Read on to learn more about a fruity fixture in the Williamsburg style of holiday decorating.