When I think of a Country Christmas I think of tea stained muslin, gingham and lots of natural materials gathered from the woods. I also like to incorporate cinnamon sticks, pinecones and gourds through out the house.
A large grape vine wreath, either purchased from a craft supply store, or made from vines or twigs gathered from the wild is hung on the front door. It is decorated with wild bittersweet and twigs. Add a bow of muslin or gingham in red or green. Then wire on a Santa gourd.
To make a Santa from a gourd, purchase a dried elongated gourd from a craft shop or garden center. There is also a link at the end of this article on where to purchase dried gourds on line. Using acrylic paint in a flesh tone, paint an oval one third down the top of the gourd for the face. Next, paint a long white beard around the oval and down the front of the gourd. Allow to dry. Any remaining gourd should now be painted with a deep burgundy, red or even reddish brown. Using black acrylic, paint very simple eyes and nose, and mouth. Allow to dry. Using a soft cloth and a light brown wood stain, go over the entire gourd, so it looks very old and antique. Allow to dry, and then spray with a matte varnish. Secure with hot glue to the wreath.
Tea stained muslin is great to use as bows, for wreaths or angels. Purchase the muslin already tea stained or purchase regular muslin and brew some strong tea, and dye the muslin using the tea. Dip the entire fabric in the tea or pour the tea over the fabric to give an aged appearance or pour the tea over the fabric to give a stained appearance. Tear the tea stained muslin into 5 inch strips, Tear don’t cut for a rustic look. Using a wire coat hanger bent into a circle shape, tie the strips onto the wire frame to form a wreath. Fill in as tightly as possible. Decorate with cinnamon sticks wired together and placed around the wreath and finish with a muslin or gingham bow.
When decorating for Christmas remember to include scents. Nothing makes one think of Christmas more then the smells of pine, cinnamon and cookies baking. A small saucepan kept on the back of the stove filled with water and spices including cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise and allspice can be turned on a briefly allowed to simmer, to fill the house with wonderful aromas. Bring fresh pine and other evergreens into the home and fill large containers or water with their branches. Add a ribbon of muslin or gingham to complete the look.
Fill a wooden bowl with pomanders made from fresh fruit studded with whole cloves for an old fashion country look and a great fragrance. Start with unblemished fruit: apples, crabapples, oranges, lemons and limes work well. Insert whole cloves into the fruit covering as much of the fruit as possible, then roll the clove studded fruit into a mixture of ground spices. Ground cinnamon alone or a combination of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and allspice. Ground orris root can be used as a fixative to allow the fragrance of the spices to last linger. The pomanders can dry in the bowl on the table, just turn every few days. When dry these delightful reminders of days gone by will last for years.