Year-end celebrations are upon us again. For years, while my children were small, Christmas was very stressful for me. There just seemed to be too much to do and, unfortunately, I got right into the thick of the mass media messaging so prevalent: “buy, buy, buy – no, that’s not enough!, buy more!”
It’s the type of thinking that just overloads your home with “stuff” and plastic. For the last few years, however, I have definitely had a more sane approach, by sticking to one gift per person, and by allowing myself to spend only $10 on new Christmas decorations, not counting the tree or items that can compost or be recycled. I certainly have enough decorations, collected over the years, and I know how to recycle them effectively so that everything looks fresh and new, without having to buy more and more. Over the next couple of weeks I want to share how I do this, starting with this week, where I show how incredibly easy it is to make a stunning urn insert to dress up the outside of your house.
The first thing you need is a couple of plastic pots which fit right inside your outdoor urns. You probably have some left over from the summer. Fill them with garden soil, which hopefully is nice and wet at this time of the year. They will be heavy, so bend your knees when you lift them and spare your back. It’s easiest to bring them indoors and work on a newspaper lined table. Next gather greenery – from your backyard if you are lucky enough to have some growing, or from the garden centre. Buy or gather a lot more than you think you will need. More is better in this case.You will also need 6 each of pomegranates and red apples, wooden chopsticks and some decorative wired burlap for making a bow. This burlap is weather proof and can be re-used for years. For this urn I used white pine boughs, cedar, larch, dogwood, red berries and green hydrangea flowers, all of which grow abundantly in my backyard.
Starting with the tallest boughs, stick them into the soil, starting at the centre and working your way, using smaller and smaller branches, out to the edges in concentric circles.
Keep adding more, working in circles, until your urns start looking really stuffed. Then add more! Add the cedar and larch boughs, filling in any spaces, then finally add a few branches of dogwood and red berries right around the centre bough.
Stick the wooden chopsticks into the bottom of both the pomegranates and apples and insert them into the centre as well. Make sure they are propped up by the surrounding greenery as they can be heavy. Finally, gently add the hydrangea flowers around the centre bough.
Then, make a big bow out of the burlap, (and I used some decorative ribbon as well). Use a bit of wire or black twist ties and securely wire it to one of the larger branches in your insert.
Water every day until it is completely frozen and it will last right through until the Spring. The squirrels will eat the apples, but not the pomegranates.