FARGO — Nothing says the holiday season like the sight of a Christmas tree festooned with cherished decorations, each one telling a story.

That story, however, is only told to those you bring into your home.

While Christmas trees are often inside the house and really only seen by those you invite inside, wreaths are out on the front door for all to see.

Your Christmas tree may be your signature, but your wreath is your opening statement.

So what does your wreath say about you?

We asked three people who live to decorate during the holidays for their thoughts on wreaths, from evergreen to glitter, bows to pine cones.

Phaidra Yunker is a custom container design manager at south Fargo's Baker Garden & Gift. Steve Johnson is a Christmas decor guru, doing the Scheels Christmas decor seminar and decorating private residences as well as Heirlooms Thrift & Gift. Gloria Weisgram is the founder of Prairie Wreaths, which specializes in organic material like grapevine, milkweed and rose hips.

Wreath or swag?

Phaidra Yunker creates wreaths and swags at Fargo's Baker Garden & Gift. John Lamb / The Forum
Phaidra Yunker creates wreaths and swags at Fargo's Baker Garden & Gift. John Lamb / The Forum

"A wreath might have a more religious connotation, the symbol of being unbroken or eternal,” Johnson says. “Historically a wreath showed status or importance, as in Rome or Egypt. Swag's more being less symbolic. A wreath is more common and could be seen as generic to some. Swags are free and artistic, in my opinion, but they both serve their purpose, to decorate for Christmas and winter.”

“The people that get traditional balsam wreaths like order in their lives,” says Yunker. “Swags are more free-form. People who get swags may be a little more go-with-the-flow.”

“I think a wreath can go inside or out but looks best on a door,” Weisgram says. “Swags go on posts or fences.”

What does a bow say to you?

Gloria Weisgram uses regional flowers and berries in her designs for Prairie Wreaths. Special to The Forum
Gloria Weisgram uses regional flowers and berries in her designs for Prairie Wreaths. Special to The Forum

"A tight bow is less artistic, yet still comes across as pretty. A more asymmetrical use of ribbon and the intertwining use of its tails is far more dramatic,” Johnson says. “Plaid and checks are more laid-back and represent a less formal person, where velvet or metallic ribbon elevates the decoration to a more formal look.”

“Buffalo check is super popular,” Yunker says, pointing to a roll of black-and-white plaid ribbon a client brought in to make decorations for their black Christmas tree. “Three years ago, burlap was selling really well. I don’t think I’ve done a single thing with burlap at all this year.”

Pine cones & berries

A wreath by designer Steve Johnson includes a variety of greens, berries and branches. Special to The Forum
A wreath by designer Steve Johnson includes a variety of greens, berries and branches. Special to The Forum

"Pine cones and berries add to the more traditional and natural look for the pine and gives the wreath or swag a more natural look when used outdoors,” Johnson says. “They help the decoration look more full, beautiful and more expensive, too. The use of multiple types of pine also adds to the aesthetic of the wreath or swag, too, no matter if they are real or imitation pine.”

“Pine cones and berries never go out of style,” Yunker says. “Incorporating mixed greens and pine cones, that person is celebrating winter as a whole, not just the holiday season.”

Eucalyptus, boxwood & live branches

“Live branches or eucalyptus are used by the high rollers, the real lovers of the season,” Johnson says. “Not that it’s more beautiful than what can be created with imitation, but it sets the mood and really keeps the historic love of the season ‘alive.’”

“Eucalyptus leaves and boxwood are more textured and more interesting details up close," Yunker says.

Glittery leaves

Phaidra Yunker of Fargo's Baker Garden & Gift created this minimalist wreath for a client. John Lamb / The Forum
Phaidra Yunker of Fargo's Baker Garden & Gift created this minimalist wreath for a client. John Lamb / The Forum

"The people who seek out my wreaths are naturalists, artists, lake people, those who grew up in the country as well as lovers of the great outdoors. Glitter and ribbon are for someone else,” Weisgram says.

“When I see something glittery, sparkly, red and green, I think, ‘This is someone who really gets into the Christmas spirit. This is the person who Christmas started before Thanksgiving,’” Yunker says.

“A glitter tinsel-type wreath really says I’m fun. There’s a party behind this door. We are playful and fun,” Johnson says.

Is there ever too much?

“Less is more in a Prairie Wreath as color and texture take center stage,” Weisgram says.

“It seems the only time there’s too much on a wreath or swag is when we have to take it down,” Johnson says. “ I always say, ‘It’s not done till it’s overdone' and 'the best is barely good enough.'"

“The more, the better,” Yunker says. “Winter is too dark and cold and white not to have color.”