Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Christmassy things #4

On Sunday we lit the second candle of our Advent crown, which we finally had time to put together over the weekend.

For a long time a friend up the road had some kind neighbours who had lived in Germany for many years. Every December they had an afternoon party to celebrate the lighting of the first candle of their Advent crown; a substantial wooden work of art. This became a most enjoyable Christmas tradition, with good company, my favourite German Christmas sweetmeats and warm, spicy gluhwein. Whilst the adults became warmer and woozier, the children would put together a German gingerbread house. But then these lovely people inconsiderately retired to France, and der Adventskranz and die Adventsfeier went with them.

I couldn't replicate their Advent crown, but I knew I wanted to continue the tradition somehow.

Wreath-making had also been on my Christmas to-do-one-day list, but our uPVC front door with its expanse of shiny glass doesn't lend itself to having wreaths attached to it.

Researching Advent crowns on the internet led me, naturally, to a Youtube video of a German society in Washington making Advent wreaths. That ticked both boxes, an Advent crown that is a wreath that sits rather than hangs, and that looked quite easy.

How to make a wreath/crown/table decoration/call-it-what-you-will for very little money

  • Get hold of a ring/base. The Germans in Washington use straw wreaths but our local florist sold me a metal one for £1 which seemed to do the trick.

  • Cut some evergreen foliage such as pine/fir/holly/ivy.
  • Gather your other decorations. We dried some orange slices (and would have used lemon too, if we'd had some) on the top of the woodburner for a couple of days. You can also dry them out in the oven on a very low heat. I bought a couple of cinnamon sticks from the health food shop, and picked some rose hips from the garden. I kept it simple and stopped there but you could also use pine cones, ribbon, Christmas decorations etc.
  • For an Advent crown, you will need four candles (we found ours at two for £1 in Poundland).
  • Then it's really easy. Wire your greenery to the ring with gardening wire. You can weave it in and out of the metal ring. My new friends in Washington then stuck on their decorations with a hot glue gun, at which point I sighed enviously, as I don't have one of those. But the good thing about a crown which sits on the table rather than hangs on the door, is that the bits and bobs don't really need to be stuck firmly. I just rested them in place.
  • I then sat the whole thing on a cake board, and positioned the candles. (We're easily amused so at this point a lot of Two Ronnies' style fork handles/four candles jokes were flying across the dining room). One modification that will be made for the third Sunday of Advent will be to sit the candles on moss for aesthetics and anti-wobbliness.
And there you have it! An easy peasy wreath. Now I just need to find some friends to join me on Sunday for a glass of gluhwein by the light of three Advent candles.


  1. Congratulations on finishing your wreath. Your dry oranges gave me idea. We got a bag of oranges recently that were not rotten but tasted bad. I couldn't figure out what to do with them. If I get coordinated enough, I am going to dry them for craft projects.

  2. Go for it! It's a very easy thing to do but they look very effective and can be used for lots of things, not just wreaths.

  3. I'm loving this series of Christmassy posts :) Your wreath looks great, I am thinking of making some more decorations for our place, since all of the cheap ones in the shops are ugly colours, maybe if I get motivated I will try something like that :)

    1. It's not difficult or expensive to come up with something much nicer than you'll find in the shops, using natural materials or recycling stuff.

  4. Love your Advent wreath! So beautifully natural. Do you light it every evening?

    1. We weren't sure about Advent candle lighting protocol, but yes, we are lighting it every evening, and it's very cheering! The kids have also got an Advent countdown candle that we've put in the middle of the wreath, so the whole thing's become quite a feature!