Introducing my first post in the category Stylish Settings! In this segment, I will be posting on handmade things, styling or decorations around the home.
After having lived in Germany for over a decade and having experienced Christmas many times in another culture, I thought I would share one of the German Christmas traditions with you! In Europe when it gets cold and dark in winter, Christmas is an absolute highlight and I always ended up making lots of decorations for the cosy season. One of my favourite decorations was the wreath with four candles on it. Tradition says that you light the first candle four weeks before Christmas, two candles three weeks before Christmas, three candles two weeks before Christmas and all four a week before and during Christmas.
We always enjoyed lighting the candles, drinking a hot tea and nibbling on gingerbread biscuits and Christmas Stollen (you can buy gingerbread biscuits and Stollen at Aldi these days!) Having said all that, I didn’t always stick to the tradition to Hubby’s disappointment and usually lit all four of the candles at the same time – just because it looked nicer!
To make my wreath, I have used a straw one that I brought in from Germany (you could also use a styrofoam one) as a base and got lots of christmas tree cuttings where I buy our tree (all free!). The tree cuttings will need to be precut to similar lengths and try to use only the end bits of the branches, as they have the nice bushy ends. You will need a pair of wire cutters, garden scissors and some green wire which camouflages best. Start by fixing the wire underneath the wreath. Then begin to bundle the tree cuttings close together so as not to see the wreath underneath, while winding the wire around them at the same time. This is the bit where three or four hands come in handy! Keep going until the wreath is covered all the way around and then cut the wire using a wire cutter and twist the end around the other wire bits to secure it underneath. Once it is finished, pull out some of the needles here and there from under the wire so that it looks a little fluffy and not flat.
This year, I decided on a traditional red colour scheme, bought the matching candles and got out my box with Christmas decoration bits and pieces and started rummaging around to see what I could come up with to decorate the wreath. I love red any time of the year but I have also made wreaths using orange candles and blue ones too and think any colour goes. It really depends on your taste and whether you want to make your wreath match the rest of your decor or just let it stand out on its own.
The candles sit on metal plates that have a long needle going through them. I haven’t seen these in Australia and you would probably need to buy them online from overseas. I just keep reusing mine. The long end goes into the wreath and the other shorter end into the candle. I have fastened the glass baubles and stars using short cut wires that are twisted around the baubles and stars and then pressed into the wreath. There are also silver glittery twigs that are stuck into the wreath. The candles are decorated with hand made velvet bows that are fastened around each candle using silver beads on a wire. Finally, the whole wreath sits on a huge red metal plate that I always use for my Xmas wreaths because no other plate is large enough! Just a little note: due to the size of the candles, they can be a little wobbly on the plates despite the needles holding them in place, so you have to be careful when they are alight that they are not left burning without anyone around, as the wreath dries out relatively quickly and could become a bonfire!
The other wreath I love to make is the door wreath. It always looks nice and welcoming hanging on the door during the Christmas period. I made a few hearts using felt and hand stitching different motifs on each. Then I filled each heart with dacron and stitched them around the edges with the sewing machine. I made the sign using plywood from the hardware store, painted it and then cut out the “MERRY CHRISTMAS” in plain white paper, stuck it onto the wood and sprayed hair spray on it to give it a bit of shine and hopefully keep the letters in place. Don’t ask me how I came up with that idea… Some kind of varnish would have been better but I didn’t have any so I improvised like I often do… Hair spray is a laquer/varnish isn’t it??
The hearts, the sign and the other decorations are fixed to the wreath with short cut wires so that they stay in place. The rest of the felt decorations (reindeers, stars and stocking) are purchased ones.
I hope I have inspired you to make some decorations of your own and wish you happy shopping and not too much stress in your preparations leading up to Christmas Day!