As it comes into the festive season here in Australia, I always feel a little strange. Rolls of wrapping paper with snow flakes, $2 Christmas cards outside the newsagent picturing children sledding down a hill and magazines with amazing decadent warm food for Christmas day and there I am wrangling 3 kids while sweating in a summer dress. While many people around the world will be celebrating Christmas in their winter, we’re always smack bang in the middle of our beautiful (albeit hot) Australian summer. Rather than a roast on Christmas day we’d be better chowing into a large pineapple before jumping in our nearest ocean.
At night while we’ve been working through our Christmas themed book advent I’ve been further reflecting on the imagery our children are taking in about Christmas. Even I, having never experienced a winter Christmas, inadvertently associate snow flakes and scarves and a crackling fireplace with the Christmas season. Wanting to ensure their Australian edification I decided we should try and create for ourselves some culturally and seasonally realistic Christmas decorations and traditions.
While scouring the OP shop for some more Christmas books earlier this month I came across some beautiful 1994 diaries with illustrations by May Gibbs featuring her well-Australian-loved gumnut babies. I would have bought the diaries had I not been so indignant that the OP shop was trying to charge $15 for a second hand diary but I went away thinking about eucalyptus and banksia’s and when we found ourselves in Spotlight later that day I knew what we had to do.
A native Christmas wreath! For my overseas friends, you too can make one native to wherever you are celebrating this year.
A wreath frame
Some flora you picked outside your house
Some florists tape and or wire
(or sticky tape or twine if you are desperate).
We found this wire frame for a wreath in Spotlight for $7.99. I did resist the urge to buy several so that we could each make one
because I hate sharing my craft projects so the kids could each enjoy doing their own. We decided to stick to one however based on the change in my wallet and limited wall space in our home.
First step would be to clean up your table to have a clean workspace and make sure no one reading this blog post knows that you’re a real person who lives in a real (and often messy) home too.
We used florists tape and wire for binding the leaves and flowers to our frame. These are two things I make sure we always have in our craft drawer and which we use surprisingly often. You can buy these online (ebay) however I have had good success with inquiring at our local florist for some.
Once you have these you can head on out and find whatever is growing nearby to make a wreath. It rained softly while we searched but we three brave souls soldiered on.
This is my favourite kind of morning with the kids, walking, talking and learning together. The conversation flowed from the origin of the word “flora” – talks about Goddesses and mythology, their baby brother named Florin, if humans are fauna, if hibiscus’s are native, if I would carry their umbrella’s, the difference between a plant and a fungus, who invented google (directly related to the proceeding question), why uggboots aren’t made for outside, how good eucalyptus smells, how essential oils are made, if she could be a botanist, if he could be a spy and if I would make them toast when we got home.
Once home with our botanical supplies we set to work.
If you’ve never used florists tape before it needs to be stretched thin to become “sticky” and adhere well. Our children use it frequently but I always remember it was very tricky to begin using for them.
One of our children who we won’t name *ahem* has a short attention span and assisted intermittently between reading to himself and eating vegemite bagels. Also. Vegemite bagels = YUM and a very appropriate snack for this craft project.
For our wreath we chose to make a base of gum leaves and add the flowers & gumnuts we had found after that. The gumnuts we used florists wire to attach as they were quite heavy.
And 6 vegemite bagels, some terrible Christmas music courtesy of Glee and an hour later: she was done!
The kids and I really enjoyed this and I think we’ll make them throughout the year, not just for Christmas. I’d love to make another when the yellow wattles bloom near our house. The good thing about this is you can also make a wreath native to where you live – nearly anywhere in the world you happen to live.
Merry Christmas ya cheekas, have a bloody good one x