Weave foraged finds into a wreath
Let your creativity run riot by decorating a wreath with your choice of foliage, flowers or fruit, wired on to a plain fir base, and tie on a big red raffia bow. Forage before daybreak at New Covent Garden Market for the best selection of jumbo cranberries, purple Brussels sprouts, crab apple stems and other seasonal gems.
The alternative tree
Branches of contorted hazel, birch or cone-studded alder make a stylish no-needle-drop Christmas tree that’s ideal for a small space. Garden crafter Louise Curley secures them in a wide-bottomed jar filled with pine cones, then decks the boughs with Chinese lanterns, nuts, berries and crab apples, secured with twine or raffia.
Natural gift wrap’s so much nicer
Push aside the shiny paper and ribbon for more natural gift wrappings. Gardener and forager Louise Curley, in her book The Crafted Garden (Frances Lincoln), suggests a base of plain paper and string, then getting creative with seed pods, grasses, berry sprigs, larch cones or bay and rosemary leaves. Her delicate flower decorations comprise honesty seed pods centred with a poppy seed head, secured with a dab of glue.
Star shapes make the cut
Metal star-shaped cookie cutters form the base for a simple, effective table display, when each holds a plain white candle secured with garden-centre sphagnum moss and decorated with rose hips. Use cookie cutters, too, for tree trims, that will feed the birds after the festivities. Mix seeds into melted lard and pour into cutters, adding string at the top. When hardened, attach to a hanging loop of scarlet ribbon. Get star cutters from Craft Company.
A cool look for the table
Ice candle holders, containing nothing more than a tea light, make a festive, though fleeting, appearance on the dining table. Partly fill one large bowl with cold water and place a smaller bowl inside, filling with water until the tops of the bowls are level, and tape to secure. Push flowerheads of violas or Christmas roses into the gap and freeze bowls overnight. Allow to stand for 15 minutes, twist the inner bowl to release, then turn the larger bowl upside down and shake gently, holding fingers beneath to catch.
Bowl your guests over
Upcycle an inexpensive glass fishbowl vase by filling it with light-reflecting silver baubles and surrounding with a circle of votive candles. Add a frill of foraged larch cones, bunched twigs, berries and nuts — instant glamour.
Bring the outdoors inside
Make a long, leafy garland by gathering together evergreen boughs and clusters of berries, then painstakingly wiring them all together... by which time Christmas will be long gone. An easier option is to buy an everlasting swag of holly, generously laden with glossy scarlet berries, that you can drape across a table, mantelpiece or deep windowsill, then nestle glass baubles among the lush greenery. Priced at £69.95 and 120cm long from Sarah Raven.
Let it glow
Bring small garden lanterns indoors to decorate the tree or line the hearth. Copper tea light lanterns, only 18cm high, can also be hooked on to shepherds’ crooks pushed into the compost of evergreen containers on either side of the front door to add a warm, glowing welcome, even when unlit. Lanterns are priced at £9.95 each, while metal stakes are £4.95 each from worm.co.uk.
Create a mini forest
In winter, silver birch trees make magical silhouettes outdoors and their effect is just as striking indoors. Rather than dragging in a tree or three, settle on a small-scale birch forest, less than 1m high, which sits comfortably in the average fireplace.
The five-strong birch cluster is dotted with soft white LEDs and the weatherproof coating means that this birch forest can light up the patio for Christmas and beyond. It is priced at £85 from Cox & Cox.