When it comes to holiday wreaths, Maura Maietta Nixon thinks outside the boughs.
Wreaths of evergreens dotted with pine cones and finished with a red bow may be traditional, but Nixon’s colorful wreaths instead favor themes such as football, autism awareness, teacher appreciation and the beach. “My military wreaths are really big sellers,” she says.
The Seaford resident, a 39-year-old mom of three girls under the age of 5, started watching YouTube videos to learn how to make wreaths, and her interest ramped up during the pandemic when she started to sell the themed creations on thenixonvixens.com. “My house looks like Michaels threw up in it,” she jokes.
Here are some three more Long Islanders and the unconventional wreaths they make, as well as where to take classes and some tips on how to get started on your own:
Lesley Maldonado, 41, of Farmingdale, is a sergeant in the New York City Police Department. But she and her sister, Yahira Ocasio, 36, of Staten Island, who works in the medical field, also launched FinishingTouchbyLes on Etsy to sell personalized wreaths.
When Maldonado’s oldest child left to serve in the military, she needed a way to take her mind off worry — “Focus more on what I’m good at while he’s serving our country,” she says. She’s created wreaths for sororities using their signature colors, for instance. And she makes wreaths using grapevines, seagrasses and wheat for a natural, earthy look.
“I’m inspired by things that I see, or the personalities of my customers,” Maldonado says. “I’m drawn to all different kinds of textures and materials.”
TIP FOR NEWBIES: “I always struggle with bows. The best teacher is literally practice. Practice, practice, practice.” Make a bow, undo it, and make it again. Repeat until you’ve got it down.
“One of my first sales was the Mickey Mouse wreath. I absolutely love Disney,” says Jenn Hedquist, 51, of Bethpage. Other wreaths she’s made include and orange and blue New York Islanders theme, a bunny head made from beads and burlap wreaths.
Hedquist offers classes to teach how to make a burlap wreath at a host’s house or backyard and has also taught at Bethpage’s adult education classes at the high school. “I bring all the supplies,” she says. She needs a minimum of six people and charges $50 a person. She says she first learned to make wreaths by taking such a workshop herself. “I feel like everyone can make a wreath. It’s such a great de-stresser,” she says.
Jo-Anne Fina, 52, an administrative assistant, took Hedquist’s class at the high school. “I made a beautiful wreath that I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on. It’s on my front door,” she says. Fina is now planning to have Hedquist lead a wreath making party at her house for December with 10 family members and friends. To schedule a class, email Hedquist at [email protected]
TIPS FOR NEWBIES: Watch YouTube videos. Some of Hedquist’s favorites: Hardworking Mom; This Southern Girl Can. Dollar Tree sells wreath forms, and craft stores such as Hobby Lobby and Joanne Fabric and Crafts sell burlap and decorative items. And don’t forget the pipe cleaners to attach décor. “Pipe cleaners are your friends,” Hedquist says.
METAL PAINT-POUR WREATHS
Karrie Anne Vitti, owner of Let’s Craft in Westbury, offers wreath workshops. Some upcoming workshops include making a paint-pour wreath on a frame of metal overlapping leaves.
“You design it yourself. You pour paint onto the wreath and rotate it so it swirls,” Vitti says. Participants can choose any colors — blue and white for a Hannukah theme, for instance, or teal to make the leaves look like mermaid scales. Or they can make a traditional green metal wreath with a red bow — but the green will be an unusual swirl of green shades.
Let’s Craft also offers workshops to make wreaths from clothespins, or wreaths that look like a sunflower, or workshops for children or teens. Vitti will also customize a workshop for a private group. “People are still doing things in their bubbles,” she says. Let’s Craft is at 1504 Old Country Rd., Westbury. Workshops range from $40 to $75. To see classes, visit letscraft.org.