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Mastering the Christmas bow: step by step

Step 1 to making the perfect Christmas bow is to fold the ribbon. Staff photos by Suzanne Freeman

Making the perfect bow, whether for a wreath or a present, is all in the wrist, said Nichole Greene, the head bow maker at Backbone Valley Nursery in Marble Falls. Greene was about 10 years old when a neighbor taught her to make bows.

“Her name was Betty, and she was a big bow maker,” Greene said.

“She told me at an early age: ‘The bow makes the present.’ She schooled me on making bows.”

Here’s how it’s done.


Before you start, make sure you have a length of florist wire cut and handy for Step 3. Then, pull a length of ribbon from the spool, but don’t cut it off unless you are sure about how much you will need. Leaving the first piece hanging out a bit, begin to fold the ribbon back and forth in loops, making the bow as big or as little as you want. The more loops, the fluffier the bow. The size of the loops also determines the size of the bow. When you have what you want, cut the ribbon at an angle.


Step 2: Gather

The hardest part is the gathering in the middle. “It’s nothing scientific,” Greene said, “but it’s key.”

Pinch together the center of the bow and gather together each loop right in the middle. Do it for every level, making sure each one is as small and pinched together as possible.

3. TIE

Step 3: Tie

Holding your pinched ribbon together in one hand, pick up the pre-cut wire and wrap it around the center, pulling it as tight as you can. Greene keeps needle-nose pliers handy to give it a few extra twists to further tighten it.


Step 4: Center and fluff

Take that extra-long piece you left hanging at the beginning into a small loop on top of the bow and tuck the loose end into the wire. From the top center of the bow, begin to fluff out each loop, pulling some up, some down. You now have the perfect bow.

“People who are intimidated by bows are too afraid of making mistakes and being judged,” Greene said. “In reality, a handmade bow has more personality. You can’t really mess this up, and it will be beautiful on your hand-decorated wreath.”

Of course, you can also attach bows to wrapped packages or even plants to turn them into instant gifts!

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