A step-by step guide to making a beautiful Christmas table centrepiece
Dutch-born, Hertfordshire-based Alice Calcasola is the creative force behind All In One Season, making bespoke floral designs and sculpture using natural materials and flowers in her own distinctive style. We joined her at one of her special winter workshops to bring you a step-by-step guide to crafting a showstopping Christmas table centrepiece at home.
What you'll need:
- A double wire wreath frame
- A roll of floral wire
- Conifer foliage (or other foliage foraged from your garden e.g ivy)
The above can be bought from your local florist/ garden centre or online specialist. Moss and foliage can be gathered from your garden or bought at a garden centre.
- A glue gun/ PVA glue
- Decorations - think dried fruit slices and berries, pine cones, frosting spray and glitter, a coloured ribbon.
- A beautiful bottle to display - we used Broc Vine Starr Sonoma County Zinfandel 2014
Start with your wireframe - if you plan on displaying your bottle or candles in the middle of the wreath check it fits inside with an inch or so free for the foliage. Next, get your moss and use your hands to start teasing it into shape. You should aim for a bushy, fluffy texture to make it as pliable as possible for shaping around the wireframe. Be prepared to tackle any rogue beasties that might have snuck in your moss!
Get your wireframe and secure the wire by wrapping it around the frame a couple of times where you intend to start adding the moss. Begin to pack the moss onto the front of the frame and use the floral wire to secure it into tight bundles by winding it firmly round.
Keep packing and shaping the moss until it's densely packed. This is very important to give your wreath stability and help the decorations stay firmly in place. A uniform 3 inches or so wide all around should do it. It should look a lot like this when you've finished.
Get your conifer branches. Ideally these should be a mix of different conifers (or other foliage) to give variation in your finished wreath. Take your secateurs and skeletonise the conifer by cutting pieces of branch away from the main body of the branch into different lengths (around 7-12cm long). Cut the branches on the diagonal to give a cleaner break that will help the foliage lay more smoothly on the wireframe without the cut edge being visible. Keep going until you've got a good pile of foliage in the different shades and textures and of varying lengths. Breathe in the lovely pine-fresh Christmassy smell!
Now it's time to start building the foliage around the frame. Use your 'good' hand for the wiring; if you are right handed then build from left to right, using your right hand to push the leaves into place (vice versa if you are left-handed). Place the first fronds (2-3 of the longer lengths) of conifer towards the outer edges, making sure the leaves cover the mossy edges so they won't be seen when laid on the table. Secure the foliage by winding the wire tightly around the wreath a couple of times. Then work towards the middle of the wreath (the lengths getting shorter as you move towards the middle), making sure you don't lose definition of the hole in the middle. Continue to wind the wire tightly round to secure the leaves in place. Be sure to have hot chocolate or mulled wine on hand for extra Christmassy vibes.
Move a centimetre along the wreath and continue to build the conifer onto the mossy wireframe until the whole thing is covered and well-secured with wire. It should look like this.
Now the fun part – embellishing your beautiful wreath with whatever decorations you like. In the spirit of Alice's original Scandinavian designs we've kept ours simple to let the beautiful foliage speak for itself. But feel free to go as wild as you want - dried fruit slices such as apple and oranges give a very traditional Christmassy feel, or try a subtle mist snow spray and a sprinkle of glitter for a frosted effect.
Here's what we created - we'll be displaying it alongside the juicy, cherry-perfumed Broc Vine Starr Sonoma County Zinfandel, which makes a delicious match with turkey and all the trimmings.