Arabian Homes offers inspiration for a different sort of decorating this season, avoiding plastic in favour of homemade elements such as salt dough and dried oranges, and recycling a wooden pallet and wrapping paper to create understated, charming decorations
Ding dong merrily
Wreaths don’t have to be made from real foliage or faux greenery – this stylish example (opposite) is made from bells, which are available from craft shops and in the souq.
This candle (above) has been customised with dried oranges and cloves. You need to make a clove-size hole in the wax using a metal skewer before pinning the orange and clove to the candle. Take care that none of the adornments catch alight. To dry orange slices, bake them in a low oven for 4–6 hours or overnight.
The pleasure is in the making
This small wooden tree (opposite) is hung with homemade salt dough ornaments painted with a red Sharpie and strung with twine. Making salt dough is child’s play (see recipe below), and it’s an easy and forgiving dough to work – scraps can be re-clumped many times, making it great for children.
In the frame
A special decoration warrants notice (right). This one, hung within a white wooden frame, was handmade using raffia, a slice of dried orange studded with cloves, cinnamon sticks and a sparkly, wired bead. It was sold (for BD1, at various winter fairs across Bahrain this season) in aid of the brilliant initiative Saturday Biryani Party with Workers. (Follow them on Instagram to see some of their inspiring work.)
Ensure your presents are beautifully wrapped. Dried oranges and sticks of cinnamon tucked into ribbon or twine will make them smell delicious. Try painting plain brown bags with a splatter of snowflakes or stencilling or stamping on seasonal designs.
This pallet (above left) was picked up from the side of the road. The tree design is simple to paint on to the wood, and then you can decorate it as you wish – we used battery-powered fairy lights and pinned baubles with ribbons to the timber, but a string of pompoms, paper chains or candy canes hooked on to the wood or wound round the slats would be fun, too. Popcorn garlands are a traditional American decoration and, strung on an outdoor tree like this, might lure some birds to your garden. (For easy-threading, use dental floss to thread the popcorn.)
Starry days and nights
These paper stars (below left), suspended on fishing line, were made using wrapping paper from Gallery One (BD1.500 per sheet). There are multiple ways to make stars using paper, some using origami techniques and others just scissors and paper. Your choice of paper as well as the type of star you choose will give your stars their character. These woven ones, which originate from Finland, call to mind the structure of snowflakes but they are not as complicated to make as they look. You do need a glue gun. For instructions and inspiration, go online – Homemade Gifts Made Easy has clear instructions.
A new leaf
Red-and-white baubles, pinecones, bells and battery-powered fairy lights decorate this “tree” constructed from books (opposite). The bottom half of the “tree” was made using layers of books, three to each layer, with book spines facing out. We started with bigger books and graduated to smaller ones. The upper part is just single books stacked one on top of another to the apex, a small hardback turned on its side.
Salt dough recipe (used for the birds, opposite)
- Combine 1 cup table salt with 2 cups plain flour and 1 cup water to make a dough, then knead it for 7 to 10 minutes on a floured surface until the dough is smooth and flexible.
- Roll out the dough to around 5mm thick (the thicker the ornaments, the longer they will take to dry). Use biscuit cutters to cut out shapes and remember to make a hole using a skewer if you want to hang up the ornaments or string them into a garland.
- Transfer to a baking tray and bake in a very low oven for 4–6 hours, until the ornaments feel hard and dry. You can then paint or colour them – the patterns on the doves were inspired by the snowflake ornaments featured on Katy Elliott’s blog, and by the beautiful work of designer and artist Nula Shearing of Noolibird.
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