Christmas crafts and plans for 2023 (6 on Saturday)

Contrary to what advertisers will have us believe, not everyone likes making a big deal about Christmas. Having lived abroad for nearly 15 years, I now look at the UK and think it really goes over-the-top with Christmas buildup. It’s hard to avoid the commercial frenzy and excess that surrounds it. Here in Belgium it’s a quiet affair. That means: no Christmas carols blaring out of the shops, and no pressure to buy presents, as most of that has been done for St Nicholas, celebrated on 6 December, in which adults are thankfully spared having to think about what to get other adults who don’t really need anything – it’s all about the kids. There’s usually a quiet family meal on Christmas eve, and Christmas day itself is low-key, maybe another family gathering and that’s it.

But before you accuse me of being too bah-humbug about it, I do like some of the rituals around Christmas, not for religious reasons, but to mark the seasons, and to bring some winter solstice cheer to cold, short and dark days. And it doesn’t have to involve going to the shops and buying a ton of stuff! Christmas can be about creativity instead of commercialism.

This year’s wreath, made of finds from the garden (except for the pears!). I like using a contrasting colour to green, which the dried Hydrangea paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’ flowerheads provide. I added crab apples from Malus ‘Evereste’, ivy berries, fern leaves, trimmings from the cypress hedge, and also sage, euonymus, and a few others. My golden rule is always to place things so they follow the same direction (clockwise or anticlockwise), I think it’s more pleasing for the eye!

I also brought some Cornus alba ‘Sibirica’ (red dogwood) stems in from a shrub I have growing in the garden, and took this photo about halfway through making a little display. I used crunched up newspaper to hold the stems in place in the jar, and have now added some pine cones to the base to cover it up (I was too lazy to take another photo). I love red and gold at Christmas.

Now to show you a decoration that needed no work at all, the Christmas cactus flowering right on time:

The question came up of whether we really needed a tree this year. My son convinced me that we did. I hate to waste things, so when its time is up, I will shred the needles to make a mulch for plants that like acidic conditions (Rhododendrons, Camellias, Sarcococca etc.), and I’ll cut up the trunk to make edging for a path.

Not all the presents go under the tree. These two are waiting for me outside, am very excited about the prospect of planting them both and enjoying the berries! The stems on the Japanese wineberries are wonderfully bristly and bright red, maybe they will make Christmas decorations in years to come? Prickly ones? Ouch.

Now, to end with an exciting new writing project for 2023! I’m going to start a green gardening newsletter, full of tips and inspiration for planet-friendly gardening. It will be open to everyone who reads this blog, and I hope it will be genuinely practical, useful, interesting and upbeat on the positive things we can do in our growing spaces to nurture the environment. I’ll be announcing more on that in January, so watch this space!

If only all winter days were as bright as this one. A beach in Kent, England, on a winter’s afternoon.

It remains for me to wish a Merry Christmas to all those celebrating, and a peaceful, fulfilling and cozy winter solstice season to everyone!

Six on Saturday is hosted by Jim at Garden Ruminations. Many thanks Jim!

36 thoughts on “Christmas crafts and plans for 2023 (6 on Saturday)

  1. May I wish you and all your beloved ones a wonderful Christmas time and all the best for 2023 !
    Beautiful Christmas cactus, we have a white one and was in full flowers 2 weeks ago.

  2. I think France is in the middle of the UK and Belgium about Christmas and these festivities. More than you though.
    Very pretty front wreath : I also used dried flowers from the same hydrangea paniculata to make a bouquet in the entrance of the house( with camellia stems, miscanthus, palm leaf, hazel stems with catkins )
    Great upcoming plans for 2023, I can’t wait to read that.
    Happy Christmas to you and your family.

    1. Yes I think it’s a bit calmer in France too from what my Dad tells me πŸ™‚ Great minds think alike with the hydrangea flowers, love the sound of your bouquet πŸ˜‰ Merry Christmas Fred!

  3. Beautiful and green ideas! Exactly what I was looking for to decorate my Xmas table! Thank you πŸŽ„.

  4. Lovely decorations and you must have a tree. I bought this artificial one about 20 years ago so I don’t feel too guilty…….it will still be used in another 20 years, but probably not by me!! πŸ˜―πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‡ Have a lovely Christmas. Ours won’t be very quiet, even though the grandchildren are grown up (they tell me), they still make a lot of noise mostly teasing their grandparents!

  5. I read aloud your opening about Christmas to my husband, and this year we are more or less following in your footsteps. I look forward to hearing about your green gardening journey. Best wishes for a peaceful and healthy Christmas and New Year.

  6. Christmas has always been an immediate family affair with us, not a lot of spending on presents, just enough to mark the occasion. It’s a “just the two of us” occasion this year, as it has been these last few years, because of Covid hitting our nearest son’s family. We will get together after Christmas/New Year. Looking forward to your new writing project. Best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

  7. I feel the same way about the commercialization of Christmas. I make and send out cookies to a few select people – late this year to a hiccup with my oven. I love catching up with people over the holidays. I love the green gardening theme!

  8. You are definitely not on your own, I detest all the fuss over Christmas, though this year it doesn’t seem to have been as bad. The OH and I prefer our very quite time, we went out for a Christmas lunch on Wednesday so tomorrow will be almost a normal day with the exception of exchanging one or two little gifts. I like your wreath, it is beautiful and fits in with my winter solstice post this week which mentions bringing in the greenery. Exciting things next year then Sel – I look forward to your newsletters. Best wishes for a peaceful and healthy Christmas and New Year.
    Jude xx

    1. Glad it’s not just me! I do like a winter solstice post, for me it makes sense to celebrate those natural rhythms of the year and enjoy a few rituals linked to them, after all that’s where the πŸŽ„idea originates. Have a lovely quiet Christmas!

  9. I thought it was only the US that went over-the-top bonkers at Christmas. You have a beautiful wreath. The little pine cone hanging in the middle is lovely.

  10. Seasons greetings to you too! I loved what you said about not everyone wanting/needing a big Christmas to-do. I wish I lived in Belgium during December! Like you, I do enjoy honoring the winter season and solstice with, perhaps, a homemade wreath and a swag of garden evergreens and foraged delights. This year I only brought in some rosemary, native sage, a lime twig and some pyracantha with red berries to drape over a wire sculpture. … Your pink xmas cactus is so pretty and huge! That’s a neat pot you have it in too. I have a small white/shell pink one, but I would prefer a pink. … How exciting about your new green garden newsletter! What a good service to offer. I await it with eager anticipation!

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