Christmas decorations go back to nature
PUBLISHED: 00:08 11 December 2013
Some of the finest festive decorations this year are inspired by the countryside. Heather Dixon finds out more
Elegant twigs, dried leaves, pine cones, moss, holly and berries are available in abundance at this time of year and can be used in all kinds of imaginative ways to create a fabulously festive home. By embracing the ‘make do and mend’, recycle and up-cycle culture of the retro movement, it’s possible to festoon your home with garlands and decorations plucked straight from the great outdoors.
So before you start turning your sitting room into the seasonal equivalent of the Blackpool illuminations or deck the hall with glittering baubles and bling, consider taking a walk round the garden or head for the countryside in search of some natural inspiration for what could be this year’s coolest Christmas look.
You don’t have to pack away your traditional favourites or resist the temptation to add to your collection of vintage hangings – simply combine them with nature’s finest to create beautiful table centre-pieces, lush green garlands and natural wreaths.
If you need inspiration, take a look at some of the amazing workshops now being held in village halls and converted farm outbuildings across the county. With demonstrations and hands-on practical sessions now in full flow, you can soon discover the traditional art of creating home-made festive accessories.
Using pliable twigs and slender branches of birch woven together into a ring, it’s possible to gradually build up layers of fir, rosehips, moss and cones to create the basis of beautiful candelabra, magnificent dining table centre-piece or a welcoming front door arrangement.
If you don’t want to make your own, but still want to enjoy the back-to-nature style of this year’s Scandinavian-inspired Christmas look, why not visit the plethora of craft fairs which offer beautiful hand-crafted designs in everything from wooden tree decorations to festive hearts for the hearth and Nordic-style driftwood wreaths.
The basic rule, it seems, is don’t hold back. Dig out the secateurs and fill a wheelbarrow with cuttings from fir trees, hedges and holly bushes. Lush piles of foliage look far more substantial and striking than a few thinly scattered branches or a meagre pile of fir cones in a bowl. Think big. Spread a mix of leafy branches along mantle pieces, window ledges, oak beams and threaded through stair banisters. Intersperse with church candles (set into safe holders if you plan to light them), dried fruits, berries and baubles for a lovely finishing touch.
And remember that natural decorations are not just for hanging and draping.
A set of glass jars or clear vases of varying heights and shapes can be filled with a few simple items, such as pine cones, berries, cinnamon sticks tied with ribbon, coils of tinsel, or slices of dried oranges, and grouped together on a side table or window ledge to great effect. Hold some of your tree baubles back and pile them into a bowl or hang with ribbon at different lengths from a light fitting, adding sprigs of holly as a finishing touch.
Treat yourself to a real Christmas tree that touches the ceiling and pile up logs in chunky baskets – even if you don’t have a real fire. The room will look instantly welcoming and the smell of the tree will create a natural air freshener. If you don’t have a festive base for the tree simply sit it in its pot inside a basket tall enough to hide the pot.
Northallerton 01609 772303
Bingley 08456 407851
Hull 08456 407019
Sheffield Meadowhall 08456 407607
York 08456 407882
House of Fraser
Leeds 0844 800 3739
Sheffield Meadowhall 0844 800 3745
Harrogate 01423 581196
Wetherby 01937 862951
Marks and Spencer
Plaskitt & Plaskitt
York 01904 656500
Whiteleys Garden Centre
Mirfield 01924 495944
For more inspiration, follow these tips and ideas for a naturally-inspired Christmas….
* To keep cuttings fresh throughout the Christmas period, place them where possible in water and refresh the water every few days
* Make your decorations on a table covered with an old cloth so you can gather up the cloth and unwanted bits and pieces to easily throw away
* Buy plenty of wire, glue and hanging fixtures from a DIY store before you start
* Give waxy leaves a regular boost with a squirt of fine mist or spray polish
* Use long strips of ivy to weave around other greenery for a casual, natural finish.
* Buy garden twine to hang rustic decorations or use pretty tartan ribbon instead of plain string
* Use small clear glass jars to display a single pine cone, a handful of crisp leaves or a few of your favourite vintage baubles. Cover the top with festive fabric tied with pretty ribbon or twine and arrange in rows along a shelf or mantle
* Create old fashioned style and inexpensive paper decorations by folding, concertina style, old sheets of music or pretty wrapping paper then tie one end with string, allowing the other end to fan out