Homemade decorations and gifts have been a part of my christmas tradition since I was a child growing up. My mom found great joy in making christmas gifts and trinkets with us three sisters. From popcorn and cranberry garlands to handmade reindeer ornaments with popsicle sticks, some of my favorite memories are sitting with her at the table crafting and feeling the peace of homemade holiday moments.
As a young married mom, my first Christmas with a baby was spent on maternity leave. The extra time with baby Jackson was the perfect opportunity to start homemade traditions while we were home getting to know each other. That first year we made salt dough ornaments for the tree. I still have his chubby hand outlined and it hangs in a place of honor on our tree today.
As the years passed, we experimented with different crafts, but the feeling is what never changes. Now as a family of five, we like to pick a few homemade traditions each December to work on together.
This year our homemade tradition is making dried orange garland. The vibrant colors of the oranges and even lemons make stunning natural decorations, and the scent of the citrus drying in the oven makes your entire house smell delicious. You can get creative and add any natural element like cranberries, pinecones, cinnamon sticks, or bay leaves to the garland if you like.
We strung our garland simply and hung it in the kitchen window to catch the light.
Another simple way to add a bit of color, is to hang a few on christmas greenery or string them up on your tree for a pretty decoration.
The boys and I tied cinnamon sticks onto the dried orange slices to make napkin holders for our christmas dinner.
Make a large batch of these little orange gems and use them in countless ways: gift toppers, vase-fillers, or layered on a wreath would be beautiful.
What you need
- 3-8 oranges – (I used 5 for a seven-foot garland)
- Baking sheet
- parchment paper or cooking mat
- jute twine or thin rope
- knife or nail to poke holes in the dried fruit
- Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees and line several baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats.
- Slice orange rounds about a 1/4″ thick. Try to keep them uniform in size so that they dry out at the same rate.
- Using a paper or kitchen towel, pat the slices dry and lay them on the baking sheets.
- Bake slices for about 3 hours, checking frequently to make sure they are not burning. Flip the orange slices halfway through to ensure they stay flat.
- Once dehydrated, let the slices stay out at room temperature for at least 24 hours to continue drying.
To make a garland, poke two holes in the top of each orange slice. Thread through with jute or twine until it is the desired length. Tie off each end with knots.
What are some of your holiday traditions? I’d love to hear about them here or over on my Instagram, where you can catch me hanging out daily.