For a truly traditional Christmas, hark an era before the invention of tinsel and baubles when natural, organic materials provided the decoration, the textures and the evocative scents. Draw inspiration from the Elizabethans, who created a festive ambience rich with the aromas of oranges and bay, and of heady spices such as cinnamon and cloves. These ingredients can be the starting point of an elegant color scheme, substituting russets and oranges for the more usual reds. Supplement the rich mood by looking for exotic fruits and vegetables like pomegranates, Chinese lanterns and artichokes, and highlight them with voluptuous bunches of black grapes. Use rusty metal vases, such as brass or amber glass plates, then add a hint of gold for the Midas touch. Here are just a few suggestions for creating a truly individual Christmas affair.
- Soak a florist’s foam brick in water then cut it to fit a metal urn and place inside. Trim a bunch of tree ivy to length and gild the berries using picture framer’s gilt wax. Use the ivy to make a full base arrangement.
- Trim five calla lilies to length and place them in the arrangement. Repeat with five russet roses to complete, making sure they are all at slightly different angles.
BROCADE PARTY FAVORS
- Cut two pieces of brocade, each measuring 15 x 30 cm and fold down a 5 cm hem at the top edge of each piece and stitch the hem.
- With right sides facing, stitch a seam around three sides, leaving the hemmed edges at the top open. Turn to the right side, fill with a small gift and tie a 20 cm silk cord around the bag. A charming brocade bag tied up with silken cord is a gift enough already; it can also contain a small present for each guest and be decoratively placed next to each setting. A single rosebud adds a final delicate touch.
FLORAL URN ARRANGEMENT
- Soak a florist’s foam brick in water and set it on a plate. Carefully push four church or beeswax candles into the foam.
- Cut the stems of a bunch of tree ivy to size and push them into the florist’s foam. Carefully gild the berries with picture framer’s gilt wax.
- Pass a wire through the base of each of the Chinese lanterns (winter cherries)and then twist the ends together. Firmly push the twisted wire ends into the florist’s foam base to fix the Chinese lanterns in position.
- First make the base and then roll a piece of chicken wire measuring the desired length of the finished piece and three times the width into a long sausage filled with florist’s foam. Soak in water and then form into a circle. Push tree ivy sprigs into the foam to make a full base.
- Pass a florist’s wire through the base of an artichoke and two dried oranges, then fix these in position around the garland. Gild the ivy berries, the dried oranges and the tips of the artichoke leaves using picture framer’s gilt wax.
- Tie cinnamon sticks into bunches oftwo or three using gold cord. Fix a wirethrough the cord and then fix this intothe garland.