2015 comes to the end....One of the most exciting and difficult years of my life. These holidays will be like no other, because for the first time I will be celebrating Christmas and welcoming 2016 as a mother. And though my sons will be only 6 months, I want them to fall in love with my favorite holidays too, even if only at subconscious level. What makes the perfect holiday or celebration? I believe one of the most important factors is the holidays atmosphere: decorations, lights, people on the streets carrying holidays themed carrier bags, street sellers wearing occasion hats etc. All the little touches and components come together to create the festive spirit. So, this post I'd like to dedicate to setting up the stage or preparing the house for the coming festivities and decorating the place.
Some people like to moan that supermarkets and shops start selling "Christmas" too early, but aren't the brightly decorated window displays and "Let It Snow" coming from the supermarkets dynamics are essential parts of the holidays season. The same way, many people underestimate the importance of dressing your house and table for the occasion, but I do believe that a cosy fireplace decorated for holidays or cute holiday themed placemats on the table do help your guests to leave the grey routine behind the door and lift everyone's spirits to the special occasion level.
So, I live in a city apartment and don't have too much space to think about. Hence, I usually need to cover only two areas: table decorations and apartment decorations (mostly concentrating on the living room space). And, of course, think about outfits for myself, my family and, sometimes, guests!
And, usually, it's a combination of the things I buy and the things I make myself. It really depends on the price, availability of something I have in mind and time on my hands. This year, my time is a limited commodity, so most of the things I will be, probably, buying. But, I have a number of little touches and decorations I made myself which serve me for years and can be reused again and again. Like, for example, these cute Christmas decorations I made out of the dried oranges and cinnamon sticks.
Ribbon. A good household should always have some stock of versatile ribbons, and I, usually, buy them on Ebay in bundles and on sale. But the likes of 1$ or 1£ shops stock cheap ones too.
Cinnamon sticks. Tip: instead of buying those in decorations shop at a premium, go to the local ethnic supermarket, for example, Indian shops usually sell them at really bargain prices. Or, for those with the time at the premium, Ebay is always a sure bet!
Slice fresh oranges into 1 cm thick disks, blot any juice excess with the paper towel. Spread the slices on an oven rack and place them to "dry out" for couple of hours into the oven at about 120C. Turn them from time to time to ensure uniform drying and that evaporated liquid is let out of the oven. Remove from the oven when they are still slightly moist - they will continue drying at the room temperature, but this way the color of the orange will be preserved better.
Cheating tip: You can buy ready made dried slices on Ebay almost at the price of the fresh oranges!
Using small pin (with a loop and fastening mechanism) as a needle for your ribbon, first, create a loop around the top and middle of an orange slice, then tie one cinnamon stick to the slice and afterwards another with the double loop around their center. Don't forget to leave some long loose ends of the ribbon to tie the decoration to the tree!
These look the best when the lights are positioned behind the oranges, then they really glow. You can reuse these decorations for years to come if properly dried.