Darien's businesses are wreathed in festive holiday cheer. The wreaths are being sold for charity.

DARIEN — The Festival of Wreaths has returned to Darien this holiday season with a month-long stay to promote local businesses.

First created in 2001, the Festival of Wreaths began as a single night where residents could bid on handmade wreaths to benefit the Darien Nature Center.

After six years, the town’s Chamber of Commerce decided to bring the festival back this year by displaying the wreaths in local storefronts through Dec. 21 for all the town to enjoy and bid on.

All the proceeds will go toward the Darien Chamber Charitable Foundation and the Darien Nature Center.

Darien Nature Center Board of Directors president Alicia Sable said she was “blown away” by the creativity of the wreaths this year, especially with the emphasis on local stores.

“We're so enthusiastic about the way that the Chamber has gone about it,” she said. “I think they really stayed true to all of the positives of the event and the spirit of the event.”

Barrett Bookstore manager Libby Stowell said she thought it was a great idea for businesses — including her store — to participate and welcome shoppers with different displays.

“It gets the community involved and gives local artists and creative people a chance to show their talents,” she said. “I think it's a really neat idea for them to be able to display their stuff.”

Having participated in the festival before, volunteer wreath maker Tara Leclerc said she drew inspiration for her three holiday creations directly from the local businesses she was assigned by the chamber.

For Barrett Bookstore, she designed a wreath with miniature books and a small bonus wreath with plush Squishmallows for the shop’s younger customers.

She also designed a wreath for Leary’s Liquor Cabinet, collecting miniature liquor bottles with red and green labels for the final product.

“We've been shopping at Barrett Bookstore and Leary's Liquors since we lived here, and so it was really exciting for me to be able to do the wreaths for both those locations,” Leclerc said.

Leclerc said she was thrilled to see the twist on a town tradition to spotlight not only organizations she supports, but also local stores. 

“I think the timing is wonderful,” she said. “I'm thrilled that it's evolved this way and more people will benefit from it.”

Stowell said she was thankful for Leclerc’s work, especially “for taking all that time and imagination to come up with all that stuff.”

By supporting local businesses, Sable said the new festival fits in perfectly with the nature center’s message of sustainable holiday shopping. 

“Shopping local is actually an environmentally responsible thing to do,” Sable said. “To have this sort of collaboration with the chamber around this effort is really a win-win for both of us and for the town.” 

All of the wreaths on display are listed on the Chamber of Commerce website. Bidding closes Dec. 21 at 2 p.m.