My usual methods of decorating for Christmas is putting up some trees ( I have three, one main trees and two small, all fiber-optic), hanging decorated (shop bought) stockings and setting out my little snowman village that I’ve had since my son was born.
This year I figured I’d try a few traditional crafts. How hard could it be? Hmm
I thought I might ease myself in with orange and clove pomanders. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for quite a few years. I’d heard it was easy and quick and made the house smell nice, so what more could I ask?
A delightful man from Tesco kindly brought two large, perfect oranges to my door, while the Old India spice company sent me a large and beautifully stinky bag of whole cloves.
I don’t know why, but I’d thought cloves are round. They’re not. They’re like tiny wizard’s staffs, but I bet they smell nicer. I wouldn’t imagine that a real wizard’s staff would smell all that nice, given it’s end is constantly tapping its way through mud and…whatever else you might find in a field, and it’s smoked out with coal fires and incense, not to mention the magic. Not all magic smells nice.
So, I have my oranges, I have my cloves, I have a skewer and I have some ribbon. Way to go.
The first thing I discovered was that it is not easy to tie a ribbon around an orange. Tip. Stick a clove through the ribbon at the bottom to keep it in place and stop it sneaking around the side when you take your eyes off it.
The next surprise was that when you poke a hole in an orange with a skewer, orange juice comes out. “Ha ha,” I hear you say, “any idiot would have figured that one out.” Nope. Not any idiot. This idiot didn’t. So… off I went to get some kitchen roll to put the orange on while I was sticking it.
Finally. I get to the point where I have an orange, divided into four segments by a ribbon and full of lots of little holes. Yay. Next come the cloves. I’ve been looking forward to this part because the I’ve always liked the smell of cloves and it was whispering at me through the plastic bag, tempting me with its promise of nostril stimulation like I have never known. Did it disappoint? Hell no.
After sniffing for a while, I tipped the cloves into a bowl and started sticking.
I did not realize that the round bits on the top of the wizard staff cling tenuously to the shaft and break off if you press too hard. Given you have to press pretty hard to get them into the holes, which involves squeezing the orange, there were bits dropping off all over the place. Thankfully, a clove without a head smells just as nice and make a pretty little star.
It was strangely therapeutic, sticking sweet-smelling shafts into sticky holes, and I quickly got into my rhythm and the end results were extremely pleasing…..
….and this was when I checked out online to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything, to find that pomanders should be “cured” in oil and spices to preserve them. This takes approximately 6 weeks.I don’t have time to do that now so I just have to hope that my oranges don’t get moldy before Christmas. Moldy balls have never been good newes for anyone.
After the *cough* success of the pomanders Efan and I decided to branch out to wreaths. We engaged in a craft frenzy with some friends and learned a few important lessons to pass on.
- Holly is sharp. When you try to wire it onto a hoop the following happens. first the thorns embed themselves into your fingers, then the berries drop off, then when you think you’re there, the leaves shed like…leaves falling from a tree, or wreath.
- Pine smells great and is perfect for hoop coverage making a really nice bed for the rest of the decoration. If you wind too much ribbon around it, it goes flat and although it still smells really nice, it’s kind of squished-looking.
- Dried fruit is not easy to get to stay on a wreath, especially if it’s not entirely dry.
On the up side
- Everything smells GREAT.
- Winding ribbon around a hoop, especially when nothing is trying to bite you, is very therapeutic and calming.
- Watching something grow from a simple hoop to a real decoration, with ribbons and cinnamon stick, bows, berries and, yes even holly, is very satisfying. I would point out that both these wreathes were consecrated with blood (thank you holly)
We’re both very proud of our wreathes and they are hanging on the fireplace next to the slowly decaying oranges.
After the success of our yule crafts this year who knows where we’ll go next year. Collecting reindeer horns in Iceland? Chopping down out own tree and coming back without a thumb? I did briefly consider making cards, but as that it my least favourite job, I think it’s rather unlikely.