Add scent with cinnamon
Sweetly scented, and so simple, bunches of cinnamon sticks add a fragrant touch to your Christmas tree. Bundle a few cinnamon sticks together with an elastic band. Tie with a length of ribbon to match your Christmas colour scheme. Leave the ribbon ends on to tie on to the tree.
Gild a pine cone
To add the metallic finish, spray pine cones with metallic paint, or brush the edges with glue and dip into a saucer of glitter. For a snow-dusted look, paint the tips of the scales with white paint; you can sprinkle on white or silver glitter too. Tie a ribbon loop at the base and hang on your Christmas tree for a naturally festive feel.
Fashion a five-pointed star
The easiest way to make a star is with one long twig. To make the star’s top point, measure along from one end (which will be the bottom-left point), then snap the twig without breaking it completely at the size you want. Fold the twig here and snap it again at the same length as the first section, to make the bottom right-hand point. Continue in the same way to make the remaining two points, then bring the twig back to the first point. Secure with an elastic band or glue. (You may have to clamp the ends together while the glue dries.) Alternatively, take five twigs of the same length, lay them out in a star shape and secure the points with elastic bands or by wrapping wire around. Add a sting or ribbon loop to hang on the tree.
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Bake gingerbread biscuits
Gingerbread is a traditional treat in Germany at Christmastime. You might want to make some to eat, as well as to decorate the tree.
Use your favourite gingerbread biscuit recipe and make the dough according to the instructions. Roll out the dough and cut out your Christmas shapes with biscuit cutters. (If you don’t have any cutters, print out some heart and star shapes, and draw around them on stiff card to use as a template). Place on top of dough and cut around the edges with a knife. Using a plastic straw, make a hole in the middle near the top, to tie on a hanging ribbon.
Bake according to your recipe. Once cool, decorate with icing or silver balls, or leave them plain, if you prefer. Thread a loop of jolly ribbon through the hole and hang on the Christ-mas tree.
Prick a pomander
Clove-studded orange pomanders have been made for hundreds of years, and their in-tense citrus, spicy smell will perfume the whole room.
Mark out where you want to tie the hanging ribbon, and where you want to insert the cloves, with masking tape. You can cover the whole orange (or lemon), make stripes or any pattern you choose. Pierce the peel with a skewer before pushing in each clove, to stop your fingers becoming sore. Keep the cloves close to each other. The fruit will shrink as it dries out, bringing them even closer. When you’ve finished pushing in cloves, tie a hanging ribbon around the pomander.
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Make mini wreaths
For a mini wreath or ring made from seasonal foliage, you’ll need a thin, pliable stem.
You can bend a single stem of rosemary into a circle, and tie the ends together.
For an ivy mini wreath, pick some small-leaved strands and wind them around a tin can one at a time, to achieve a circular shape, securing with string or wire. Add a ribbon loop and hang on the tree.
Create a cranberry and popcorn garland
This is a traditional American Christmas decoration that works very well if you've chosen a red and white Christmas colour scheme, or a natural decorations theme. Children will enjoy making this garland and, if you hang it outside, birds will enjoy eating it!
Day-old air-popped popcorn is best to use because it's less likely to crumble, and less greasy, but freshly made (or freshly bought) works perfectly well.
Thread a needle with strong thread. (You may wish to double it.) Now push cranberries and popcorn on to the thread. You can alternate or go for groups of three, or any pattern you like. Short sections of five pieces look good hung vertically on the end of a branch. Tie a knot when you've finished threading, and hang your garland on the tree.
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