I’ll let you into a little secret. I probably started thinking about Christmas this year in September. It did feel a bit strange planning menus whilst the weather was still sunny and warm, but I like to be organised and when I have made a list, I’m a happy girl! In my defence I am hosting Christmas for my family for the first time, and it is also the first Christmas in our new house. Never one to plan a party by halves, I want to make Christmas this year really special. I have my work cut out baking-wise every weekend from now until the big day, well that is what my list tells me, but I love an excuse to bake so this is just perfect. I’ll be posting about my pre Christmas baking in the next few weeks. This post however, is my first craft project for you all. It does actually involve baking believe it or not, so it is not a complete week off, but I would only advise admiring the finished product, not consuming it.
Wreaths are possibly my favorite Christmas decoration. I think they make a house look amazing. So welcoming and homely. There are many different wreaths available to buy these days, but the ones I like normally cost an arm and a leg! When I look at them closely though I always think that it would only cost a fraction to make. So this year, I have bitten the bullet and made my own. This wreath is rustic and fragrant with a vintage feel about it. It looks like something you might have bought from a posh florist in London, but even better because you will have made it. The extra nice thing about this wreath is that it will look nice hanging on your wall or by the fireplace all year round. Mine is up already. A long lasting reminder of how clever you are….perfect!
What you will need
- 2.5kg of oranges (cheap juicing pack will do)
- Jar of allspice
- 16 short cinnamon sticks or 8 long (to be cut in half)
- Old wire coat hanger
- Brown garden string
- kitchen roll
- 3 or 4 lined baking trays
- 1-2 thin lengths of wire about 30cms each.
- The first thing you need to do is prepare your oranges. Cut each orange into thinnish slices. You should probably be able to 6-7 slices including 2 enders from each orange. Dab each slice with kitchen paper to try and absorb as much juice as possible. This is a good task to get your children to help you with, although be prepare for sticky bits of kitchen roll to be all over your kitchen at the end of this process!
- Turn on your oven to 150c/300f/gas 2. Pour some allspice into a bowl and use your fingers to rub the spice powder on the front and back of each orange slice. Place the orange slices on the trays. They can overlap slightly if need to by one layer.
- Place oranges in the oven. They will take between 4-5 hours so you need to pick an afternoon when you are going to be at home. Once they have been in the oven for about 3.5 hours, start to check on them every half hour or so until they are done. You will know when they are done because they are darker in colour and looked dried out and a bit crispy. You may find that you take some out before others. It is fine to do this. If they are left in too long they will burn, so try not to forget about them completely. Your house will smell divine whilst they are baking, and will definitely put you in a Christmassy mood!
- Whilst your oranges are the oven you will have plenty of time to prepare and shape the wire. Unwind the coat hanger and cut off the twisted end bits. You can usually cut wire with pliers. Then use the pliers to work the wire into a heart like shape.
- Once all the oranges are out of the oven, let them cool completely and the start threading them onto the wire. You should find this fairly easy to do. Every so often get a couple of cinnamon sticks and place one either side of the wire. Secure them by using a long piece of rafia. You will need to wrap the rafia around both sticks, up and under until it is secure, then tie a knot to finish and cut off any excess rafia.
- Keep going until you have filled up all the of the wire with orange slices and cinnamon. It needs to be quite tightly packed as the oranges will continue to dry a bit and shrink once it is finished and hanging up. Once filled, you will need to join up the end bit of wire. To do this I used a thin length of wire, which I just wrapped around, (in and out, up and down) the two end bits of the wire on the wreath. Trim off any further excess of coat hanger. I then covered this join by wrapping with rafia.
- Final touch is to tie on some brown garden string to the top of the wreath to use to hang it up, and then a red Christmassy ribbon bow to finish it off.