I absolutely love being inventive over Christmas. This year I’m not going to be having Christmas lunch at my place and I’m gutted because it means that I can’t take advantage of a lot of these stunning ideas. Some are mine, some are discovered on the internet, all are brilliant at building the festive spirit.
First up I try to mix the sweet and wicked with the healthy and tasty as much as I can, especially now that I have kids. So, one of my favourite tricks is to take Christmas decorated paper cups or make my own Christmas paper cones and fill these with a combination of fruits, nuts and chocolates. I tend to buy the paper cups in bulk from Poundland when I am in a rush, but if I have time, I make my own cones of paper and fill those instead.
This year I have used a selection of fruits and nuts that have been on special at either the Co-Op or Tesco and then combined some chocolate covered raisins, maltesers, or chocolate covered nuts with these to make a truly tasty pick and mix. To make your own cones, just follow this fantastic video tutorial on Modern Mom and fill yours with treats instead of flowers. I am handing my cones out as snacks on Christmas morning at the present opening.
Another lovely way of getting into the decorative spirit without spending tons of cash on fripperies is to use the wondrous popcorn. One very traditional and fun way of decorating for Christmas is to use popcorn and thread. Old thread in any colour will do and you don’t need to buy fancy popcorn either. Popcorn wreaths and garlands are fun to make and they are brilliant at keeping the team going as they create them. Nobody’s getting hungry on this project!
A popcorn garland for the tree is super easy to make. Follow these lovely instructions on Channel 4 or read on… Pop the corn, leave it to cool, and thread the needle with your chosen thread. Don’t cut the thread from the spool though, you need a lot of length here, and then push the needle through the centre of the popcorn and down to the end. Keep on going until you have a gorgeous and tasty garland for your tree.
Feel free to add in things like cherries or apricots or dried fruit slices to make a very festive Christmas decoration. Or you can use food colouring to turn your popcorn into a vivid Christmas fiesta.
I found this ace walkthrough on how to make a popcorn Christmas wreath and if that doesn't impress people, I will be amazed. It looks good enough to, well, eat… However, if popcorn doesn’t appeal to your inner Christmas decorator, why not try using Liquorice Allsorts or other sweets that can be easily strung along? You can use the same principle of thread and use all kinds of retro goodies to make tasty garlands.
I tend to make these a few days before Christmas, or when I have guests, so the sweets don’t get too sticky or stale. I hate throwing them away! Or you can use old sweeties that have passed their sell-by dates, just make sure you tell everyone to avoid them.
Next up, to create the scent of Christmas, grab a pack of tasty oranges and some cloves and create a star pattern by pressing the cloves into the body of the orange. You can use any pattern you like and these juicy decorations will soon have your home smelling heavenly. Attach them to the Christmas tree using ribbon held in place with decorative pins.
Another brilliant Christmas tree and windowsill decoration is the crunchy Christmas biscuit. Go out and buy coloured cooking chocolate and Christmas shaped biscuits. These are easily available and, if you can’t find any you like, why not whip up your own batch of Christmas biscuits and cut them into the shapes you like. Dip them into the melted chocolate either on the tips, or halfway, or completely immerse them. While the chocolate is drying I get the kids to decorate them with Christmas coloured vermicelli and hundreds and thousands. If you would like to hang them from the tree, poke a hole in the biscuits as they come out the oven. You can find some ace Christmas recipes here.
As a child I would often collect piles of pine cones from the parks and spray paint them with metallic paint or cover them in glitter and stickers. This tradition is still going in our house and usually only uses things we already have lying about at home. The best part is that when you’re done with using them as Christmas decorations, you have a keepsake from your kids. These aren’t edible, obviously, but they are too good and way too much fun to neglect.
If you happen to be staying with family over Christmas, these ideas can be part of your Christmas gifts. Either prepare the biscuits beforehand and wrap them with lovely brown paper and raffia, or take everything along with you and get the kids and adults involved in the fun. Simple ideas with tasty results.