Real branches make beautiful, natural Christmas decorations, which can look either elegant or rustic. They suit most festive themes and are easy to dress up in a number of different ways. Collecting your own twigs and branches, then using them to make a range of centrepieces gives you something more personal than you would buy in the shops. It also saves a lot of money. Use techniques to make one very large centrepiece, or make smaller ones to place along the middle of a longer table.
Place long branches on newspaper or inside a large box in a well-ventilated area, ideally outside. Spray with your chosen coloured paint. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully because spray paint can be messy and give off fumes. Gold, silver and bronze are popular Christmas colours, or you could use something contemporary such as red or emerald. Leave to dry.
Dot PVA glue on any parts of the branches you want to frost. Then sprinkle on a little glitter and leave to dry again. Try clear iridescent glitter for a really frosty look.
Bunch the branches together and place in a plain vase. You could tie some coordinating ribbon around the bunch or around the vase, or let these look natural and simple. Make several table centrepieces by making smaller bunches and placing them in clear glasses.
Glue small, thick twigs round in a circle. Do this one by one and get the shape by placing each twig against a round tub or bucket for support. Use a glue gun to fix the twigs together. Dot the hot glue on several places on each twig and then place it against the last. When you have a circle slide out the pot and you’ll have a bottomless bowl. You could make smaller pieces by using a large yogurt pot for support.
Paint the bowl with acrylic paint, if desired, or you could take this outside and use spray paint to get a metallic lustre finish in a festive colour.
Place the bowl on the table and fill with other festive items. Pile it high and tumble pieces outside and around the bowl. Pine cones, pine twigs and baubles are traditional. Or you could use wrapped sweets and candy canes.
Press the ends of plain branches and twigs into a large block of florist’s oasis.
Place the tallest branches towards the middle and smaller ones on the outside, for an informal and rustic look that is still tidy enough to look like a display.
Trim branches as desired, to shape the overall piece. Use sharp secateurs for this. Then stud the arrangement with decorative holly, pine or mistletoe.
Adorn further by tying ribbons, tiny candy canes or small pine cones to the centrepiece. You could also use baubles, stars and tinsel.
Choose medium-sized branches and twigs for centrepieces, rather than anything too large and heavy. Tall centrepieces look best when the branches are thin and wispy. Shorter ones can be made with stronger, thicker twigs.
Clean all your twigs with a dry cloth before using, making sure they are free from mud, loose bits or insects.
Make really sumptuous twigs, by painting with acrylic size, available from art shops, then gilding with gold coloured metal leaf.
Wood is flammable, as are spray paint and glue, so never use your home-made centrepieces as part of a display with candles or near any open flames.
Be very careful when using spray paint, heated glue guns or sharp secateurs. These are only suitable for adults.