Christmas table decorations from the garden – quick, easy & thrifty

December 6th, 2020 Posted In: Decorations/parties

I’ve just been doing two Christmas table decorations with garden designer and baking star Jane Beedle. Created from foraged seed heads and garden greenery, they each took less than ten minutes to create.

And when the festive season is over, everything can go on the compost heap. It’s zero waste Christmas decorating.

Easy, quick natural Christmas table decorations

Two different looks for Christmas table decorations, both are quick, easy and made with natural elements from the garden or foraging.

Of course, the ten minutes doesn’t include the time taken to forage for seed heads or gather garden greenery, but Jane collected bits and pieces on dog walks and had a quick look at my garden.  You could involve children in looking out for suitable twigs and seed heads, although tell them to point things out rather than pick things up.

Jane is a garden designer and she also runs cookery and craft courses at Jane’s Kitchen Kent. You probably recognise her as a finalist from the Great British Bake Off 2016 and winner of the Bake Off Special at Christmas 2018.

What is the law on foraging?

The law on foraging is confusing. It also varies from country to country and is different depending on your district. So check your local regulations.

Roughly speaking, you are usually allowed to pick wild flowers and their seed heads in the UK. But you must not dig plants up. You’re also not allowed to forage to sell on, unless you’ve got permission from whoever is in charge of the land. And, of course, if you are on private land, you need the permission of the landowner to be there in the first place.

Forage for Christmas table decorations

Seed heads on a country lane can be sprayed gold or left natural. The top photo is near Faversham’s boat yard. And if you see a neighbour clearing out their garden, ask if you can have some clippings. There are some beautiful lichen-covered branches in this skip. However, you do always have to ask permission to take from a skip.

But Jane advises keeping an eye out. ‘A neighbour was pruning their bay tree and left bags of bay prunings on the street, with a note saying “help yourself”‘ – so you never know what you might find.

Simple ivy-based Christmas table decorations…

The simplest, most flexible and longest lasting Christmas greenery is ivy.  Ivy growing up a brick wall is wonderfully flat for laying on a Christmas table. And the trailing ivies wind beautifully into rings. Most people have some ivy or have a friend who has some ivy.

Jane layered two kinds of ivy for her first Christmas table look. She put the kind that grows up a brick wall (nicely flat for a table) on the bottom. Then she added trailing variegated ivy. ‘You can also wind ivy into a napkin ring or to create a table wreath,’ she says.

Some tangerines from the fruit bowl and a set of Moroccan battery powered fairy lights complete the picture. She concealed the battery under more ivy. ‘This should last about three days,’ she says. So the Christmas table decorations can be done ahead of time. (Please note that links to Amazon are affiliate so I may get a small fee if you buy. But it doesn’t affect the price you pay and I only recommend products I’ve used myself.)

Simple five-minute ivy Christmas table decorations

Simple five-minute ivy Christmas table decorations.

Or conifer-based Christmas table decorations…

This is a time of year when we all fall in love with conifers. Or possibly not, but you could at least give them a chance. If you’re having trouble with loving conifers, see this post on how conifers can transform your year-round garden.

If you don’t have a conifer tree, then it’s often easy to ask a friend if you can clip a few branches. I go round the back of the tree to snip off a minor branch, but conifers are often so big that no-one will notice. You should prune conifers between April and August, according to the RHS. But my Leylandii cypress never seems to have suffered from any minor pillaging of its branches at Christmas.

Jane based the second Christmas table decoration on the Leylandii cyprus branches she cut from my garden. She added the dried flower heads of teasel and wild carrot. The seeds of both have fallen out by now ‘so you’re not taking anything that could have provided food for birds,’ says Jane. She sprayed the teasel with gold spray, which she admits is probably not very environmental. But there’s only a small amount of it, so I don’t think it will contaminate your compost heap too much.

Christmas table decorations

The second table arrangement is made with conifer branches, hawthorn berries, rose hips, holly, ivy and the dried seed heads of teasel, wild carrot and a fluffy seed head that neither of us can name.

She added hawthorn berries, rose hips and holly berries. ‘The conifers and the rest of the greenery will probably last three days,’ she says. ‘But keep the rose hips and berries outside until you need them, as they may go rotten in a warm house.’

See Jane put together the table decorations in real time in video…

Jane explains more of her tips in this video. And you’ll see the tables decorated in real time, so they really do only take ten minutes to do. I haven’t cut the video, except to take out a few ‘ums’ (from me – Jane doesn’t ummm!)

More about natural zero waste Christmas decorations

If you’re interested in sustainable Christmas decorations, see this post on Zero Waste Christmas Decorations. And You’re supposed to prune your silver birch trees before Christmas so check out this simple twig wreath made with silver birch clippings here. And find out how to do some lovely jam jar decorations created by online floristry teacher Julie Davies.

If you’re interested in decorating your garden, but want to do it in a wildlife-friendly way, then this post on Christmas garden decorations – how to be festive and wildlife friendly will help.

Shop my favourite gardening books, products and tools

I’m often asked for recommendations so I’ve put together some useful lists of products, books and tools on the Middlesized Garden Amazon store. I only include things I use myself or which have been recommended by friends

Pin to remember Christmas table decorations

And do join us on the Middlesized Garden every Sunday morning for more gardening tips, ideas and inspiration. See follow by email here. There won’t be any new posts between the 14th December and the 9th January, but we’ll be back after that.


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