The Christmas Orange: A Story + A DIY for Garland

Spring through fall will usually find us on an outdoor excursion, often only coming inside for nap-time & after dark.  During the cold, winter months however, I find myself coming back to & attempting new crafts. While the darkness increases, I delve into piles of yarn, packages of colored paper, unrolling yards of fabric, cutting out patterns with care, dusting off containers of paint & miscellaneous whathaveyous...all eagerly awaiting my return from my outdoor adventures. While we still make it a habit of enjoying what outdoor activities winter offers us, I find such pleasure in settling into a project with a chosen hot cup of drink while the weather is less than favorable.

I also find that DIY projects are exactly what I need to get into the holiday spirit.  I find that the little homemade touches are always the sweetest in any decor, & since the holidays are all about spending time with those you love, this Orange Christmas Garland is a perfect way to enlist the help of those you enjoy being around.  This is a great project for small children to help with as well.  Reagan loved placing the orange slices on the baking sheets, collecting the cooled pieces, & hanging the garland. Older kids can carefully thread the garland with a blunt needle.  This project is so simple, adds a quintessential touch of cheerful charm, & fills your home with warm, citrusy aroma as they bake.

While preparing the slices for baking, I was reminded of a Christmas tradition we had in our home growing up.  Every Christmas day after presents were opened & wrapping paper picked up, my parents would turn on John Henry Faulk's Christmas Story.  This short story about a boy & his Christmas orange never fails to bring me tears of gratitude & remind me what Christmas is really about.  This story can be found here, & I really believe it will do your heart good to take the ten minutes to listen, maybe while your orange slices are baking or you're gently stringing the garland.

Either way, The Christmas Story & The Christmas Orange Garland go beautifully together, so I've included an easy tutorial on how to create such a lovely addition to your holiday decor this season.

(Toy car is optional)

What you'll need:

  • 2-3 Oranges
  • Sharp knife or Mandolin
  • Baking sheets
  • Parchment paper
  • Blunt needle (I used a tapestry needle)
  • Thin yard or thick thread. Something that will hold the weight of the oranges.
Line baking sheets with parchment paper & preheat your oven to the lowest setting. Simply cut your orange slices 1/4" thick with a mandolin or sharp knife.  I found the mandolin to be messy & had a much easier time just using a knife.

Once your slices have been cut it is most important that you remember to dry off each slice as much as possible with a paper towel.  Otherwise your oranges are more likely to brown or burn instead of dehydrate.  Once they are dried, simply lay them on the parchment paper in a single layer & place them in the oven.  

Depending on how low your oven goes, this can take anywhere from 4-8 hours.  I find it best to check them once an hour or so & flip them every so often so they can dry evenly.  

Once the slices are no longer flimsy when you shake them, they are done.  I purposefully left a couple of mine in a little longer to give them a more "golden" appearance, in order to have different shades of orange on my garland.  Transfer them to a cooling rack.

Measure where you'd like your garland to go & cut your yarn accordingly.  Or you may mimic me & just eyeball how much you think you'll need.  Thread your needle with the yarn, & thread through your cooled orange slices. Knot both ends, hang, & take delight in your sweet little ornamentation! 


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