Hanging Christmas decorations

Make your own hanging willow Christmas decorations

Grower and florist Charlie Ryrie shows how to create exquisite natural Christmas decorations at home, using plants and materials found in your garden and foraged. Photos Andrew Montgomery

It’s the time of the year to start thinking about your Christmas decorations. There’s a huge amount of material you can use in your garden and making your own decorations from natural materials can be both rewarding and good for the environment. Here’s how to create some fetching hanging willow-based decorations. Head to our Christmas hub for more ideas, and why not try to make this beautiful bird’s nest wreath, also created by Charlie Ryrie.

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Wreath made from natural materials

Materials and tools to make your Christmas wreaths

  • Natural twine
  • 20 thin, pliable willow rods 90cm-1.2m long for the stars
  • 20 slightly thicker, coloured willow rods 90cm-1.2m for the Christmas trees – use willow freshly harvested from hedgerow or garden, or soaked in water for 24 hours
  • Some interestingly shaped beech or alder branches with seedcases still attached.

To make

Note: The stars are perfect to make with small children; older ones will enjoy making the trees.

To make a star

  1. Take a length of thin, pliable willow 50-60cm long.
  2. Bend it into a capital M shape with each side 8cm long and a long tail, then straighten it out so you have crease marks.
  3. Hold one end of the willow and form the numeral 4 with the long tail forming the horizontal bar. Take this long piece behind the vertical upright, then bend and thread it through the centre of the 4, taking it over the vertical bar and under the angled side.
  4. Bend it again to thread the remaining length back over the angled side and under the horizontal bar to join the bottom of the vertical upright, forming a five-point star.
  5. If the willow is very thin and pliable, wind the end round the bottom of the upright; otherwise take a short piece of twine and tie the two ends together, leaving a tail or snipping it off below the tied point. It may take a few goes to get this right.

To make the tree

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  1. Make an upturned V shape and weave willow around it in a figure-of-eight pattern.
  2. When the willow runs out, just start with a new rod and when you have woven about half the tree insert two willow pieces to make the trunk – they will be secured by the weave – and keep weaving.
  3. Tuck the ends inside as you work and snip off any long bits when you finish. Hang your decorations with coloured twine from a few branches of beech or alder in
    a favourite pot.