A new Christmas tradition has emerged in my home in recent years: the search for The Christmas Branch. Once carefully chosen and carried home the branch takes pride of place above the Christmas dinner table, decorated with foliage, tealight lanterns and mini mercury glass baubles which glisten in the candlelight.
I love using natural foraged materials to decorate at Christmas time… there’s something about the tangy scent of pine, the texture of bark and bright red pop of berries that Mother Nature does better than man ever could. I’ve brought together my favourite craft projects for making your own Christmas decorations at home using materials you can gather from the garden or hedgerows. Don’t forget to follow the foragers code and gather only a little with respect to plants, trees and animals.
A simmer pot fills my house with the smell of Christmas naturally, without resorting to cloying artificial air fresheners or potpourri…yuk! All you need to do is fill a saucepan with lovely scented ingredients like pine sprigs, orange slices, root ginger, star anise and a cinnamon stick, add water and leave to simmer over a low heat on the hob or even on top of your woodburning stove. Here’s Half Baked Harvest’s simmer pot recipe, but really anything goes when creating your perfect fragrance blend.
Pine cone firelighters smell lovely and make a sweet handmade present too. I was first given one of these as a gift by the Emma from Bradshaw & Son’s blog and will be making my own again this year. Here’s Emma’s Winter Spiced Pine Cone Firelighters tutorial explaining how they’re made. This is a great one to try with the kids over the weekend.
A hedgerow foraged Christmas wreath is the perfect welcome to visitors and is fun to make at virtually no expense. You can either begin with a ready-made wicker wreath base (the easy option) or make your own by binding handfuls of moss onto a wire wreath former using thin wire. The foliage you use for your wreath can be as simple or exotic as you like… personally I love the understated style of this one, made using Christmas tree trimmings, some berry springs and a little eucalyptus, but you can tailor yours to whatever you have around, adding extra embellishments if you like. Simply bind the greenery to the base using floristry wire.
Decorating the Christmas cake is always my job in our household. I usually go for a traditional topping of nuts and dried fruit arranged in a pretty pattern and glazed with apricot jam, since nobody except Joe is much of a fan of marzipan and icing. This year thought I’m tempted to break from tradition and draw inspiration from this spectacular natural Christmas cake decoration from Call Me Cupcake using pine sprigs, sugar frosted cranberries and pine cones. The recipe for the Soft Gingerbread Cake sounds delicious and the decoration is simple, yet effective.
Adding a sprig of greenery to gift wrapped presents is an instant way to make them look beautifully styled. It works best if you use simple plain brown or white paper and black satin ribbon or striped twine to create a rustic feel. These partridge tags are from a set of free printable Christmas gift tags I designed a couple of years ago featuring British animals and plants – they’re still available to download and perfect for finishing this look.
I always fall into the trap of putting too many decorations on the Christmas table. It’s inevitably a toss up between creating a beautiful first impression when guests sit down, using armfuls of lush foliage and twinkling candles, and actually having enough space for the serving dishes when you get the food to the table. Usually the result is a chaotic clearing of decorations as the food arrives, leaving to a much less pleasing effect than I’d intended! So, this year I’ll be going simple with a rose hip sprig on each plate, one of these cute mini hanging picture frames as a place marker and tall narrow vases that don’t take up too much room down the centre.
I hope you have found lots of inspiration for decorating your home for Christmas and I’d love to know your plans for using natural materials this season. I’ve also put together a special Pinterest board with even more ideas to try so come over and follow me if you like this style too.