Deck the walls
Simple, understated and homemade. These Christmas wreaths are easy to make, here's how . . ., writes FIONNUALA FALLON
Even if it’s something as simple as a swag of ivy tied with a scarlet bow, I’ve always felt that natural Christmas decorations mark the year’s end in a way that tinsel and baubles never can. Part of the enjoyment lies in that annual wintry forage for suitable materials. Bag in hand, secateurs in pocket, I’ll happily spend the best part of a day out of doors, scavenging for sculptural seedheads, crimson berries, delicate twigs and pine cones sticky with resin.
If you’ve never tried making your own natural Christmas decorations, don’t be put off by the idea that it’s too difficult. As long as you keep things simple, it doesn’t require a florist’s specialist skills. That said, you’ll need to arm yourself with a few coils of florists’ wire, florists’ moss (either from your garden or from the flower market, but don’t pick in the wild), tins of metallic spray paint, a pliers, a secateurs and a glue gun. Metal coat-hangers – the kind you get from dry-cleaners – and chicken wire can also be pressed into service, as can any colourful fabric remnants or pretty ribbons that you might have. Then give yourself a couple of hours and some space (a large table is useful, but remember to protect it with a few sheets of old newspaper). I promise that the end results will be wonderfully Christmassy. Not only that, your own homemade natural decorations will have cost you scarcely anything.
Three takes on the traditional Christmas wreath
1. Some festive twiggery
There’s a wonderfully spare quality to a wreath fashioned out of bare wintry twigs tightly twisted together. I especially like using young birch twigs, which are flexible enough not to crack as well as being easy to work with. Start by gathering them into long bundles and then tie each bundle at one end with florists’ wire. Holding the tied end tightly between your knees, gently twist the first bundle. Wire firmly together at 10cm intervals. As you come to the end, add a second bundle of twigs (I leave an overlap of roughly 10-15cm) and wire firmly in place. Continue until you reach the required length and then wire both ends together (keeping a generous overlap) to form a circle. Wire in place.
Given this wreath’s natural simplicity, it’s best to keep any further decoration to a minimum. This year I’m using a long strand of florists pearls woven through the twigs, which glitter in the December sunlight like frozen dewdrops.