Original Ornaments

Making your own Christmas decorations

For those among us who love Christmas (or don’t but go along with it anyway), decorations form a big part of the festivities. We may put up garlands, flashing lights in our windows or even (Lord help me if I catch you) Santa figures draped over the house’s façade; but most will agree that decorating the Christmas tree is the activity that brings us together – each doing their bit to make it special. At my house, my father assembles the tree; my brother decks it out with light and tinsel and then comes my bit – the ornaments!

Whereas the majority of us generally opt for shop-bought ornaments, there is something to be said about the added personal touch that homemade decorations bring. If you’ve had enough of the commercialisation, want to get creative and have your own unique Christmas tree, here are a few suggestions for you!

Natural Christmas Tree

Bit of a hippy at heart? If so, the all-natural version is the way to go, with decorations comprised of dried fruits, spices and recycled materials. Don’t just stick to these though, walnuts, pinecones and all manner of flower sprigs make an elegant and delightfully green all-natural Christmas tree. What’s more, it will smell heavenly and hark back to the Christmas tree tradition’s roots – harvest festivals.

Christmas tree star: 

For a natural tree topper, all you need is five twigs, thin wire and pretty dried leaves. Trim the twigs to 30cm and arrange them into a simple star shape. Wind small pieces of wire around the joints at all five corners. Attach a wire loop to the top and stick the leaves onto the frame using PVA glue.

Cinnamon orange decoration: 

Cut a straight orange slice, sprinkle some cinnamon powder over it and allow to dry for a few days. Decorate with ribbon and loop a length of wire around the top to hang. Even after drying, this will give off a gorgeous citrus scent.

Clementine clove ornament: 

Stick a handful of cloves into a clementine in a pattern. Dry it out over a few days and loop a length of wire through the top for hanging. Another idea is to cut vertical stripes into a dried orange or clementine for a natural bauble – just remember to loop it at the top!

Cranberry heart decoration: 

Form a length of wire into a heart shape and thread with a number of dried berries. Secure with a loop at the top and there you have it, a beautiful and vibrant heart decoration.

Edible Christmas Tree

Want the sweetest tree ever? Nothing’s sweeter than a tree full of, well, sweets! However, whereas absolutely lovely and cute as ever, I would not recommend this option if you have pets (or little piggies) about. Come Christmas time, you’ll have a very bare tree indeed.

Iced biscuit decorations:

Make gingerbread dough using your own family recipe or simply use my favourite here. Cut the dough into assorted seasonal shapes – you can buy cutters from the supermarket or cake shop – leaving a small hole through the middle for hanging, and bake. Decorate using piping icing.

Sweet treats:

Display store-bought sweet varieties (preferably with brightly coloured wrappers) in decorated containers. You can sew them especially or use items you have around the house – get exploring!

Fabric candy cane cone:

Cut a cone shape from felt and patterned fabric. Sew the tops together, fold lengthways and sew the curved edges, leaving a gap in the lining fabric. Turn inside-out through the gap, hand-sew it shut and decorate. Fill with sweets or chocolate pieces; just make sure to line it with baking paper!

Rice krispie snowballs:

These are so much fun to make with your kids, but beware – a mess is guaranteed! Make rice krispie balls using rice krispies (or coco pops) moulded together with melted marshmallows and butter. You can leave as is or dip in melted chocolate and roll in coconut flakes for that snowball effect.

Yummy Gingerbread Recipe

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Ingredients

• 125g butter, at room temperature
• 100g brown sugar
• 125ml golden syrup
• 1 egg, separated
• 375g plain flour
• 1 tbs ground ginger
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
• 150g icing sugar
• Food colouring of your choice
• Smarties or other sweets, to decorate

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Brush two baking trays with melted butter, or line with baking paper.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat. Slowly stir in the flour, ginger, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form dough. Wrap dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes to rest.
  3. Meanwhile, place egg white in a bowl and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add icing sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Divide icing into however many colours you’d like and add colouring. Cover them with cling film and place in the fridge.
  4. Place the dough between 2 sheets of baking paper and roll out to 5mm thick. Use a gingerbread man cutter to cut out shapes. Place on trays about 3cm apart.
  5. Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes or until brown. Leave to cool for a few minutes.
  6. Place prepared icing in small plastic bags. Cut a small hole in one corner of each bag. Pipe icing over shapes to decorate and finish with sweets.

Fabric and Paper Christmas Tree

Got loads of fabric bits and bobs around the house or simply want an excuse to dust off your sewing machine? Then this option is for you – made from soft and bright materials and some incredibly simple to make, it’s a great way to involve the kids in the process!

Festive felt bird:

Draw and cut out body and wing shapes out of bright felt, as well as smaller shapes for decoration (flowers, stars and holly leaves.) Decorate using thread or simply with fabric glue. Sew around the shapes using blanket stitch. Cut a slit in the body and push the wings through. Secure with ribbon loop.

Recycled paper decoration:

If you normally recycle attractive paper (such as magazine cut-outs and old wrapping paper), this’ll be easy. Draw simple shapes onto the paper, stick onto cardboard (you can use an old cereal box) and cut. Loop with some pretty string or ribbon and you’re set!

Fabric shapes: 

You can really get creative here, using shapes such as gingerbread men, candy canes, Santa and mince pies cut out from felt. Draw the shapes and cut out in assorted colours, sew around the edges and stuff with foam. Then decorate as much as you like – the sky is the limit with these.

Paper presents: 

As simple as you like but oh-soattractive. Cut out a square of wrapping paper and attach to some card. Stick ribbon in the shape of a cross on top followed by a big bow in the middle – it’s best to use fabric glue so they won’t fall off. Loop some ribbon for hanging and you’re set.

Sarah Micallef