Deck the halls

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Every December, I buy a plain evergreen wreath from Mrs Grover’s stall at Columbia Road. She sells her own beautifully decorated wreaths but I love the slow, scented ritual of creating my own. This year, I raided the kitchen cupboards to make a cook’s wreath finished with some of my favourite flavours of the season: oranges and lemons, cloves, cinnamon and star anise.

Making a wreath is incredibly easy and – a bonus – it gives me the chance to get my glue gun out (£2 at a church jumble sale, thank you very much). In my enthusiasm, I always forget how bloody hot the glue gets. Still, and I’m sure Martha would agree, nothing says ‘Happy Christmas’ like a new set of fingerprints.

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003Not helping…

You need…

  • A plain wreath
  • Glue – a glue gun works brilliantly, particularly if you are on the run, but any strong, clear-setting glue is fine
  • Green florist’s wire from garden centres or DIY shops
  • Raffia or ribbon
  • A selection from the decorative bits and pieces below


Dried orange slices
Preheat the oven to 130°C/250°F/Gas Mark 1. Slice the oranges about 4mm thick. Lay them out on a tea towel and press out some of their moisture with another tea towel or kitchen paper. Lay them on an ovenproof rack and place it on top of a baking tray. Place in the oven and after the first 15 minutes, turn the oven down to its lowest setting and leave the oranges to dry out for about 5-6 hours, turning them halfway through and opening the door from time to time to let out the steam. Turn off the oven and leave them to continue to dry out in the cooling oven. You can dry apple slices in the same way.

Once the orange slices are completely dry, glue them together in piles of three or four. Poke two holes in the stack of slices with a dowel and thread enough green florists’ wire through the holes to hold them together and to tie them around the wreath. Hide the wire by sticking a star anise over the top.
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Cinnamon bundles
You can buy packs of cinnamon for crafting quite cheaply on Ebay – I bought mine, £2.50 for 40x8cm sticks, from www.floristrywarehouse.com. Stick them together in bundles, tie some floristry wire around them with enough excess to tie them around the wreath. Hide the wire with a raffia or ribbon bow.

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Oranges and lemons
Whole fruits look great and smell wonderful tied to your wreath. Poke a hole through the fruit with a skewer, thread some wire through the hole, leaving enough excess to tie around the wreath. If you like, you can stud the fruit with cloves.

Other things you can tie or stick onto your wreath if you like…

  • Pine cones
  • Bundles of woody herbs such as rosemary or thyme
  • Bits of holly or ivy
  • Nuts
  • Sprigs of eucalyptus or laurel


To assemble your wreath…
Simply tie all of your orange slices, lemons and bundles of cinnamon to your wreath, twisting the wire several times at the back of the wreath to secure them firmly. Trim off the ends of the wire with secateurs. Lighter things, such as apple slices and nuts can be glued directly onto the wreath.

14 thoughts on “Deck the halls

  1. Esther, You could always just use the cuttings from the Christmas tree tied in a bundle with ribbon to make a sort of fan shape and decorate that. I've done that before and it looked very pretty. It's hard to get such a full-looking circle without using a sort of foam circle thingummy to attach it all to.
    Claire, Delighted! Your own wreath looks beautiful by the way – love the jingle bells.
    Mummy, Me too, I can't tell you how much! But sop looking forward to our New Year's trip north.
    Love, love, love Dx

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  2. I was hoping you'd explain how to make the plain wreath bit. I tried to buy wire in a hardware shop but they would only sell it by the reel and said I should use a coat-hanger base. I've tried with coat-hangers before but the result has been . . . well, they've looked like coathangers with bits of stick sticking out.

    I'm doubt if I'd ever get round to making as wonderfully an elaborate wreath as you have here but I expect I could manage ribbons and pine cones – if only I could make the leaves go round!

    Esther

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  3. Karen, Go on, you know you want to…
    Paul, Thank you
    Mariana, So true, such a small amount of effort for a generous helping of daily pleasure.
    Claire, I tie ribbon around mine and use a staple gun to fix it to the upper edge of the door – it works really well, is strong, doesn't interfere with the opening and closing of the door and you can't see the holes as they're in the part of the door that no one but a giant could see.
    Jules – A sprout wreath! Go on, do it. It sounds fun and I really think sprouts are quite beautiful.
    Kath, I promise this is so easy. After you dry the oranges – which takes time but is no effort really – putting the whole thing together only takes about an hour.
    Karen, You are a card.
    Dx

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  4. Gorgeous, I make a wreath for the door but it looks nothing, and I mean nothing, like yours. In fact my husband is always embarrassed at how bad my wreaths are. Practice makes perfect (or maybe not).

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  5. Beautiful looking wreath. I've had a slightly mad idea of making a wreath from sprouts this year. Our crop was damaged in the snow. No longer edible but could be wired to make a wreath.

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  6. That looks so lovely. I've just walked past some houses with wreaths on the door and they look really pretty, but I kind of just know I won't get round to making one as I can't work out how to attach one to our door. I shall have to just look at the piccy of yours instead. I like the info on drying the oranges. I might just do that and do some sort of table decoration with them.

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  7. Well now this is a different recipe. The scent of orange, lemon, clove and cinnamon sounds sooo warm and inviting. I can imagine the reward and satisfaction you feel each time you take a whiff or look at your lovely creation. Nothing compares to homemade or handmade. I have been preserving of late with lots of little goodies to hand out for christmas pressies. I feel your own personal touch is always nicer. Lovely wreath Debora.
    Mariana xx

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