Centuries ago Christmas and winter-holiday celebrations were centered around the rhythms of nature. From the gifts that were exchanged to the wreaths on the doors and the decorations on the tree, everything was either home spun or thoughtfully gathered from the outdoors. The simple joy associated with such traditions and connecting with the beauty of nature can be very peaceful, and it’s easy to achieve by decorating for the holidays with garden style.
Every year in late November, I collect branches from various evergreen trees on my property to arrange in urns on my porch. Winterberry bushes also grow around my house, so I add a few of those branches bearing bright red berries to the bunches of greenery. Greenery and berries also look great in window boxes or displayed in whisky barrels or other outdoor planters. The arrangements may also be used inside, though the berries will dry up and wither in a short period of time when they are not exposed to the outside temperatures.
Any left over greenery may be added to the bottom branches that will be trimmed from the Christmas tree. Tie groups of the boughs together with floral wire, add a bow, Winter berries and a pinecone or two and you have a beautiful swag for the door.
Pinecones of all shapes and sizes are very versatile and wonderful to decorate with. I like to display a basket full throughout the winter. I sometimes add a few bright red and silver balls to the pinecones for a festive flair. Pinecones that are spray painted silver and gold look magical in a clear glass vase or jar on the mantle and also strung individually on the Christmas tree. Before a party one year, I gathered a bunch of twigs that had blown off trees. I arranged the twigs in a large vase and hung silver and gold spray painted pinecones from ribbon on the twigs. It made a wonderful centerpiece display and when my guests left, each person was able to choose a pinecone ornament to take home for their own tree.
Pinecone birdfeeders are a fun craft to make with children. Wrap twine around pinecones and spread vegetable shortening or cold bacon grease all over the cones. Roll the cones in birdseed and hang from a tree.
Fire starters for woodstoves and fireplaces may also be made with pinecones. Melt paraffin wax and discarded candle pieces in a used tin coffee can inside a pot of water double boiler style on the stove top. While the paraffin is melting wind twine around pinecones horizontally, leaving a few inches of twine hanging. When the paraffin has melted, sprinkle in a small amount of table salt and or pine needles. Then dip each pinecone in the melted paraffin and let cool on waxed paper. These may be used with newspaper and kindling to start fire place fires. The salt allows the pinecone to burn with colorful flames and the pine needles add fragrance. A box of pinecone fire starters is a nice winter hostess gift.
Clothespin angels are another traditional fun ornament or gift to create, and they need not be limited angels. Clothespin nutcrackers, reindeer, elves, and Santa Clauses are just as easy and fun to make. Begin by painting a face and hair on an old fashion style clothes pin. Tie a ribbon around the neck of the clothespin doll. Wrap fabric scraps around the body and use pipe cleaners for arms. A gold pipe cleaner twisted into a ring makes a nice halo for angels. A paper doily folded in half is used for the angel wings. Embellish with glitter and tiny buttons and enjoy.
Today, more people are rediscovering the quaint and simple ways to honor the holiday season. The time and effort it takes to collect and construct these traditional crafts from days gone by are a labor of love, and perhaps the best gift of all that we Yankee’s can give to one another to share. Are you decorating for the holidays with garden style this year?