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Victorian Christmas Ornaments

This holiday season, try decorating a minature tree in Victorian style for your mantle or as a centerpiece, or create your own handmade ornaments borrowed from the Victorian tradition. Our easy craft projects that were enjoyed by families in the 19th century provide beautiful adorning touches to your holiday decor!

Nut and Raisin Garland

Victorians strung together nuts and raisins for garland. An article called "Christmas Tree Decorations" published in December, 1901, provided the following instructions: "Do not forget to have some form of jewelry for the tree, bracelets or necklaces, not of gleaming precious stones nor yet of gold or silver, but of toothsome nut kernels and delicious, dark rich raisins. With needle and strong thread string first a peanut, then a raisin, a peanut, a raisin, an almond, a raisin, a filbert, a raisin and so on, using as many kinds of nuts as you deem best. The boy or girl receiving the novelty will be charmed and later may devour the queer beads one by one as they are pulled from the string." Of course, the modern day alternative is to use popcorn, but this easy project provides more color and variety to a Victorian country home!

Dark plump raisins
Needle and thread

1. Using a strong needle and thread, string the nut first, then a raisin.
2. Next, string an almond and then another raisin.
3. Alternating raisin with nut, string through until you have a sufficient length for your garland. Hang carefully on your tree.

Gilded Walnut Ornaments

Victorian families also hung handcrafted ornaments on their trees. Some popular ornaments included popcorn balls, gilded walnuts and peanuts.

Large English walnuts
Gold craft paint (acrylic)
Ornament hooks

1. Begin by cleaning off your walnuts with a damp cloth. This will help the paint to stay smoothly on the walnut.
2. Using a paintbrush, paint the entire walnut with gold paint and let dry.
3. Hook the walnut with ornament hooks. As an alternative to ornament hooks, use string and hot glue.
4. Knot string into a circle and glue with a hot glue gun onto walnut. Let dry. Hang ornaments evenly spaced throughout tree.

Victorian Paper Fans

This easy project allows you a lot of flexibility here to choose material that matches your choice of holiday colors.

Heavy wrapping paper
Lace doilies
Victorian scrap art or leftover wallpaper
Choice of adornments (craft pearls, craft beads, diamond dust, ribbons, bows, sequins, craft roses, or lace)

1. Cut your paper into 4" wide strips and begin folding the paper back and forth like a fan.
2. Fold paper in half lengthwise first if you want print to show on both sides. Before folding, you can decorate the edge with lace or ribbon.
3. Using gold string, tie the bottom of the fan together and knot into a hanging loop. You can also first staple it together to help the fan keep its shape.
Using a hot glue gun, fasten pearls, craft beads, diamond dust, ribbons, bows, sequins, craft roses, or lace to adorn your fan.

Spiced Pomander Balls

Traditionally made of dried fruit and fragrant spices, Victorians hung these fragrant, spiced pomander balls from curtains, in closets, above doorways and on Christmas trees. They were also piled together in a bowl as an eye-catching centerpiece. These balls can be traced to the 13th century, when they were first introduced to add fragrance to one's home. You can also use an orange instead of an apple. Multiply the amount of materials for the number of balls desired. This project will take about two weeks to complete, so we suggest you start early!

Whole cloves
Cinnamon (ground)
Orris root (optional)
Ribbon, bird or other trim
Adhesive tape
Paper bag

1. Wrap your thumb--in both directions around and up and down--with adhesive tape and push the whole cloves into the apple with the protected thumb. Cover the apple completely in one sitting. If left half-finished even overnight, it will spoil.
2. Place your covered apple in a bag with ground cinnamon and orris root and shake it.
3. When the apple is well powdered, place in a warm, dry place. If you put it in the kitchen, you will enjoy the fragrance as it dries. Turn it from time to time, so it won’t develop any flat spots. The pomander should be dry in about two weeks. As the apple dries, it shrinks, so wait until it is thoroughly dry before wrapping with ribbon and trim.
4. Once the apply is dry, pin ribbon, lace or other trims at the top of the apple.
5. Add a ribbon hanger at top if you want to hang the finished pomander ball on your Christmas tree. You can also cover the ball with rectangles of tulle (a starched net material), and close at the top with ribbons. Hang with satin ribbon loop, and enjoy the fragrance for the entire holiday season!