How to Make Beautiful, Sustainable, Budget-Friendly Christmas Decorations
Following on from the first of my 12 Days of Thriftmas series, here are a few bits I didn’t get to share in the final edit of the Christmas Decorations video...
I've seen quite a few different ways of approaching this - but, in my opinion, the simpler - the better! Yes - using a skewer first will certainly make the holes much easier for the cloves to go into the orange - but, if you're doing this with the kids, you might not think it's a good idea (age-dependent). A knitting needle might be a safer idea, but that could make too large a hole - so it could be worth experimenting if you've got small children joining in. I remember, when I was in Brownies (!) we just pushed the cloves in directly - so... as I said, simple is sometimes best.
I've also watched a video where the maker suggested covering the orange with clove oil first, before putting the cloves in, to make the scent stronger. They then reiterated that clove oil can burn your hands.... I mean... why use it?! Yes, it probably does make the smell stronger, but honestly, not so much it's worth burning yourself for! Maybe you swear by this method, and wear gloves in the process..?
Finally, I've had it said to me that pomanders can last for years - and some people bring them out every year, do you have any experience of that? I know that the ones I made with a more intricate design went a little brown – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, is it? It’s not like it smells like rotting fruit! 😉 And you can revive them with a dusting of cinnamon, or some essential/fragrance oil… Do share pics with me of yours, I’d love to see! (*and if you want to know where to buy the things I used for mine, I'll add some links at the very end of this page)
Firstly, I took it for granted you’d know how to make popcorn – but if not, it’s very easy. Just take a pan with a lid, heat a teaspoon of oil, chuck in the corn, and wait until the pops are 5 seconds apart. Remove from heat to cool, and leave overnight so the corn goes stale – so it’s less likely to snap when you use the needle. Then, as the video says, thread the popped corn onto wool, or string, using an embroidery needle - maybe space with the odd berry… or pompom, if you can’t find any berries to work with! Now here’s a question for you, does the US have bigger corn than we do in the UK..? It seems to me that popcorn garlands are more ‘bountiful’ in the US! Of-course, it could just be Photoshop… (*I did consider plaiting three strands of garlands for a fuller-effect, but ended up putting a strand of fairy lights through them instead.)
Hanging Dried Fruit for the Christmas Tree…
To start, cut the fruit into thin slices, place in the oven on the lowest heat setting, and dry them out for a few hours. The trick is to dehydrate the fruit, not cook them. I’ve found lemons to be a little tricky, one minute they’re fine, next minute they’re burnt! Just keep an eye on them - put them in the airing cupboard if you need to, then thread through some twine or ribbon, and they’re ready to hang! Apples are also OK, but seem to curl up in the process… I did see a technique for drying out sliced fruit in the microwave, under a brick, have you tried that?! Apparently it works really well for making pressed flowers in a hurry…
EXTRA BLOG SPECIAL! Christmas Potpourri...
Finally! If you’re going to have the oven on for 3 – 4 hours, you may as well use it for as much as possible – so why not make potpourri at the same time..? This time it doesn’t matter so much if the lemon is brown, or the apple is curled up… If you’re using flowers, remove the stalks and either place whole flower head, or individual petals onto greaseproof paper. Don’t forget to tuck in other bits and pieces you might have in the cupboard, like springs of rosemary, lavender, or thyme, before putting in the oven. You could also add whole spices, like cinnamon sticks, cloves, or allspice. Mix 10 to 15 drops of your favourite essential oil to one tablespoon of water in a small spray bottle, and spritz the potpourri ingredients. Then pop the fruit and flowers into your oven and dry for two to three hours, or until the flowers are brittle but not burnt. You might find they’re not as ‘dry’ as you’d like, so just give another spritz of essential oil, and leave them on the kitchen counter overnight. Once you’re satisfied they’ve dried out completely, and the potpourri is at room temperature, gently give it a mix and place it in a bowl or a small gift pouch to gift (I’ve got sustainable ideas coming up on that, in another video soon!). To refresh the scent, simply re-spritz with the oil mixture.
If you like the idea of making scented pine cones (like the ones I fill my fireplace with), and you’ve found them outside foraging, you might want to pop them in the oven with the potpourri - (or pop them in the freezer overnight) to kill off any insects inside the cones. Then place them in a plastic bag (we’ve all got one, I’m not saying buy one!) - and add a few drops of essential oil in the bag before shaking. Leave overnight if poss, for the scent to really bed in - then put a small amount of ribbon around each cone to hang OR pop them in a bowl, or your fireplace, to admire...
These are in no way my own ‘inventions’, and let’s face it, there are so many other crafty ways to make your natural Christmas decorations – like making your own wreath or swag, from foraged fir tree stalks, or ivy branches… and wrapping cinnamon bunches for the tree… the list is endless! I also write a post nearly three years ago, on how to use your old tights to make new baubles... you can read that DIY post here. I’d love to hear what you’re doing this year to decorate your home, either from a crafty or earth-friendly point of view… do share!
And I’ll see you back here tomorrow, for another one of my 12 Days of Thriftmas 😊
Big Christmassy Hugs,
p.s. If you want to watch the next video in Gema's 12 Days of Thriftmas, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube Channel!
p.p.s. As promised, here are a few bits and pieces I used to make my decorations - these are affiliate links that will take you straight to Amazon;
- cloves, and ribbon, for the pomanders
- twine for the popcorn garlands
- essential oil for the potpourri
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