Dating back to ancient times, wreaths are a familiar part of the holiday season. Made of materials such as evergreens and berries, candles and bows, they have come to symbolize eternal life, family and winter.

For those wanting to move beyond store-bought wreaths and tap into the tradition behind the tradition, the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, an organization with a focus on education, advocacy and stewardship, provides an opportunity to get crafty during the holiday season with a wreath-making workshop on Saturday, December 10.

“The workshop is all about using natural materials to make wreaths,” says GRPC education coordinator Stephanie Wilson. “[Master gardener and educator] Milli Wright has friends that collect all these things, bring them to the park and set it all up. They provide all the materials and instruction.”

Put together by the Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County, the event is a showcase for what can be done with natural, sustainable materials and is one of the organization’s holiday traditions. Demand for the workshop has been so great that this year, coordinators added a second, afternoon session.

Wright and her team will provide basic lessons in wreath construction and design and assist participants in creating their own wreaths. All materials will be provided but if a participant would like to include something specific in their creation, they are welcome to bring materials.

For Wilson, the wreath-making workshop is a great way to reach out into the community and create some holiday cheer. “There’s so much symbolism with wreaths and Christmas trees being symbols of life,” she says. “Just having a space for people in the community to take some time and think about what they’re doing and where those materials come from; to keep the tradition going, is really special.”

With a focus on bringing awareness to the park, the GRPC offers a variety of events that range from workshops and bike rides to clean-ups and work days. On December 18, they are hosting a Christmas Bird Count where volunteers (over 50,000 nationwide) help to count their local birds to provide valuable data about bird populations and migratory patterns to scientists.

The GRPC, in addition to working to advocate for and take care of the park, is committed to bringing awareness of the value and beauty of the park to the local community.

“We have this beautiful park in downtown San Jose,” says Wilson. “It’s free, you can find parking and you’re not going to get harassed. Our number one mission,” she adds, “has always been to promote the park.”