The Story of the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath

Inside: It started as a simple idea. . . 

The Story of the Hillbilly Christmas Tree
We christen thee “Hillbilly Christmas Wreath.”

It started as a simple idea. Last year I spotted a picture on Pinterest of a large tractor tire painted green and sporting a red bow. “We’ve got to do this,” I told Mom. It was the perfect Christmas project.

But a year ago Christmas was stressful. With Dad being in the hospital it was difficult for Mom to do all the things she loves to do this time of year, from baking and candy making to shopping to long December lunches out with family and friends. We barely fit in our yearly mother daughter traditions. The last thing on our minds was spray painting tires.

Fast forward 365, and so much has changed—Dad’s passing in January and dealing with the loss. Feeling his absence from the farm. He lived and worked here his whole life. He was as much a part of the homeplace as the barns and the fences and the trees.

Yet suddenly not.

He always wanted to do something big for Christmas, like put a star on top of the forty-foot silo, and I remember talking to him about decorating the huge pine in the yard of the two-story farmhouse where he grew up—“We could raise the loader bucket and someone could stand in there and . . .”

But we never did.

Dad was a dreamer. The doing part? Not so much. He had a dairy farm to run, after all, and between that and helping people, there wasn’t much left of him.

Mom has always been the doer in the family, and now that Dad’s gone, that part of her has gotten even stronger. Like just a week ago at a Christmas tree farm when Mike and I paused a moment to talk and then turned to see her halfway up the hill, dragging her tree behind her. That is so Mom.

So when I mentioned the tire again this fall, she said, “We’ve got to do it this year. It’ll be a surprise for the family.”

With the family gathering together this particular Christmas, we knew we’d need a little spark of cheer. Something to bring a bit of happiness in spite of Dad’s absence. Plus he would have loved the idea!

Once Thanksgiving was past, we found ourselves in the paint section of Walmart, debating the merits of emerald, forest, and moss green and estimating how much spray paint it would take to cover our tire. We settled on four cans of a forest green color and then moved to the fabric area where we chose a wide red plastic mesh ribbon for fashioning a bow. We were set—or so we thought.

Eager to get started, Mom rolled the tire into position by herself (she promises that it was easy to do) and propped it up. Later I showed up and we painted the tire a nice forest green color. But we noticed it didn’t “pop.” Up against the building and in the shade, it didn’t look much different than before it was painted. Back to Walmart for more supplies–more spray paint in a brighter color (hello emerald green), more poly mesh ribbon, and white lights. Another crafting session later, with more painting, bow affixing, and stringing lights, we stood back to admire our masterpiece. Mom dubbed our creation “The Hillbilly Christmas Wreath.”

And it was good.

The plan from there was for me to launch the post about it a day or two before Christmas, waiting long enough to surprise my out-of-town brothers, sisters-in-law, and nieces and nephews as well as my daughter and son-in-law down in the city. Mom snapped some pictures with her phone to send to a couple of friends who were privy to the project.

That night hard rains and high winds whipped at our little (big) tire. The bow had shifted downward, so we stood in the harsh cold breeze the next day, shoring it up with more wire. It was then she mentioned that a friend posted the picture of our wreath on the Internet. Several others had seen it and reposted it, with one person wanting to make his own wreath. She wasn’t sure we’d be able to keep it a secret.

“Maybe we shouldn’t wait,” she said. “Think about it.”

I told her I would, admittedly a little disappointed that our surprise for the family might not be revealed in person.

But the more I thought about it, another idea took hold. We had something special here. Our little (big) fledgling tire wreath was bringing people joy. And wasn’t that what Christmas was all about? We could think of others beyond ourselves, spreading a ripple effect of goodwill and cheer. Plus there’d be time enough for others to make their own tractor tire wreath. Dad would love that!

So there you have it–the story of our Hillbilly Christmas Wreath. But it doesn’t stop there. Friends, you can have a part in this. If our little (big) wreath makes you smile or the story resonates, pass the joy around. Tweet it, post it, pin it. Tell people about it.

Add another smile to the bunch.

Making the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath

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The Making of the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath
Mom doing hick graffiti.

You will need:

Scrub off any mud or debris and drain any water from the inside if needed. You can drill holes in the bottom to keep rainwater from accumulating.

Spray paint the front, sides, and inside of the tire where it shows. We did not spray the back and some of the inside. You will need additional paint if you’re wanting to cover your tire completely.

Run lights around the tire. We spaced ours farther apart, going about 11 times around, so if you want lights closer together, you’ll need another strand or two of 100-count lights.

Fashion a bow out of the poly deco mesh ribbon. (Here’s a tutorial on four different ways to make a bow.) Use floral wire to attach the bow, winding around the tire and tucking the excess wire inside. We did this in the middle, which alone didn’t stand up to the elements. The next day we threaded through the inside part of the bow loops (on both sides of the bow) where it doesn’t show and wired that to the tire, so we ended up with three strands of the floral wire holding up the bow (left, center, right).


The Story of the Hillbilly Christmas Wreath.

Have a question about making our Hillbilly Christmas Wreath? Leave me a comment or send me an email to

Coming attractions: Stay tuned for The 12 Posts of Christmas starting December 14 and running through Christmas Day! 

Related post:

A Rural Girl's Favorite Things Christmas Gift Guide

A Rural Girl’s Favorite Things Christmas Gift Guide









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4 Responses

  1. Karisa

    Aha! The secret is out! Now I don’t have to worm it out of Matthew 😉The wreath looks fantastic; I never would have thought of that. Great idea! Can’t wait to see it and you all in person!


      Me, too! I am already imagining you and me taking three little boys for a walk to see it. 😉