It’s that time of year when oranges abound! Whether it’s for Yule, Solstice, Christmas, or just a pop of colour, this is a great way to use up those oranges. In this article, I will give you the simple steps to creating your own DIY dried orange garland.
The humble, simple dried orange garland is one of my favourite ways to honour the holiday season and to ground my understanding of the Yule and Winter Solstice season. Keep reading to find out how you can get in on making this natural Christmas decor in just a little bit of time with little to no extra cost to you!
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Symbolism of the Orange
The dried orange slice garland has been around for a long time, and is common especially during the Christmas season. (Although their colour and vibrancy makes me feel like I should use them around our house during other parts of the year too. I digress…)
There is actually a lot of symbolism that the orange carries, and some important reasons why this fruit takes centerstage during the winter months.
Oranges represent the sun.
Firstly, oranges symbolize the sun, which is no surprise. Their bright and radiant colour and circular shape easily reminds us of the sun, whose return is celebrated during Christmas time. Yule, which is the time of year when we experience both the shortest day and the longest night (December 21st), marking the beginning of summer, is celebrated throughout the world in different ways. Typically this involves some type of nod to the sun (on whom all earth life depends), who will begin to provide more day light, incrementally, following the night of the winter solstice.
Hanging orange garlands (or having oranges in your decor) is a beautiful way to honour the cycles of nature, and to express your connection and gratitude to the sun, recognizing its power to give us energy and vitality.
Oranges represent fertility.
Interestingly, when oranges are growing, the flower and the fruit grow at the same time, which explains it’s connection to fertility. Once upon a time, in the middle east, oranges were used in marriage celebrations for this reason. Oranges are also known for being an aphrodisiac!
The colour orange is also connected to creativity. In astrology, children are part of the 5th house, where our creative expression lies. So, children are an expression of our creativity, they are what are created from our creative life force energy. Here, you. can see again the connection with the orange fruit and its colour, and the concept of fertility.
Oranges represent luck.
Oranges typically ripen in the December months, and the production of fruit in an area demonstrates that the earth is healthy, fertile and capable of reproduction. For these reasons, oranges are considered lucky. They are often eaten in Japan and China during New year celebrations!
Benefits of having a perfect dried orange garland as part of your winter decor
-A DIY dried orange garland is a great activity because the whole family can participate in it’s making. It’s a simple way to have a moment of quality time with your kiddos and/ or partner or friends. There are lots of elements of this DIY simple garland that even a 2 year old can help with. (Ask me how I know…)
-It’s a great way to use up oranges that have gone hard on the outside or have rotten spots and aren’t fit for eating (instead of having to pitch them).
-It’s an easy way to bring some natural elements into your home during the winter season, when a lot of people tend to spend less time outdoors and in nature. Having plants and natural elements in your home is a perfect way to stay grounded and to be reminded of your connectedness to nature in your daily life.
-The bright colours of this simple garland will add a nice punch of colour to your home
How and where to use your simple garland
Anywhere that you would typically put up any other Christmas decorations, your orange garland would be a beautiful addition to. Here are some other ideas:
-In the dining room on the wall around the table
-On your kitchen cupboards
-On a pantry door
-On your Christas tree (wrapped around)
-On your mantle
-Hanging from a window
-Hanging from a bookshelf
Supplies for making an orange garland
–SHARP SERRATED KNIFE: using a sharp knife will ensure that your orange slices are as uniform as possible, and that they don’t get squished in the slicing process
–MANDOLINE SLICER (optional)
–CLEAR FISHING LINE (alternatively, you could use thread twine or sewing thread. You’ll need enough string to hang all of the slices, plus a little extra for hanging)
–LARGE NEEDLE or yarn needle (alternatively, you could use a skewer to poke holes in the dried orange slices)
–WIRE RACKS: or any kind of cooling rack for cooling the oranges on to make sure the bottom gets dried out too, and no moisture is trapped under the slices
-DRIED ORANGES/ dried orange slices: you can use fresh oranges that are naval, mandarin or cuties
-PARCHMENT PAPER (or a silicone baking sheet)
-PAPER TOWEL: for blotting the oranges dry; alternatively you can use a dish towel
–WOODEN BEADS: optional, for embellishing the garland
-CUTTING BOARD: To protect your counter, table and fingers when you are slicing the oranges
-OVEN OR DEHYDRATOR
Considering how stunning the results are, this is a relatively quick and easy project!
- Using a cutting board, place each orange on the board and cut them into thin slices. Slice oranges into approximately 1/4 inch slices. You want to be careful not to cut the oranges into thick slices because they will take a long time to dry in that case, and you will also be required to use more oranges. (That may be all fine and dandy, if that’s the case, go ahead and cut em’ thick! For us, we wanted to make sure we had some oranges left to eat too.) It is important to use a very sharp knife for this step to make sure that the flesh of the orange isn’t squished or destroyed by a dull blade (which would misshape your dried rounds).
- Line cookie sheets with either parchment paper or a silicone sheet. (This is so that the oranges don’t stick to the pan.)
- Place the orange slices onto the sheet in a single layer. It’s okay if they are touching.
- Put your oven at it’s lowest setting (typically this is 200 degrees Fahrenheit) and place the cookie sheet into the oven.
- To make sure that the orange slices get adequately and evenly dried during the drying process, take the slices out every hour and flip them over, then put them back. This process should take approximately 4 hours. Alternatively, you can place the citrus slices onto the trays of a food dehydrator, and dehydrate the slices at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 6 hours, or until the slices are dried.
- You will know when the drying process is done because the oranges will be completely hard, and will be the colour of an orange lollipop.
- Poke a small hole in the top (or a small hole on opposite sides) of each orange using a needle or a stick (I used a skewer).
- If you are using thread, thread the needle and then “sew” the orange rounds together using the sewing thread. Make sure to tie off the end of the thread before you start putting the orange rounds onto it. If you are using fishing line or twine, you can, alternatively, pick up each slice and thread the line through using your fingers.
- Tie off the end of the string once all of the rounds have been attached. Leave approximately 6 inches of string for you to use when putting up the orange garland on your wall, mantle etc.
- Optional step: If you are wanting to have a little fragrance in your home, you can also add a drop of orange essential oil onto each orange round before you put it up.
DIY orange garland variations
This orange garland recipe is really a foundation. There are many ways that you can spice it up or alter it to fit your own decorating aesthetic.
-You can put tissue paper flowers in between each orange slice (in a colour that matches your space) on your garland for an added delicate and feminine touch.
-Adding wooden beads to your garland would add another natural element to your decor (the wood being the added natural element), and would create a fun bohemian vibe.
-These orange slices can also be used as gift toppers! Simply put a ribbon through the hole and add on a gift tag before attaching it to a gift.
-Add other dehydrated fruit to your garland. I personally added limes and lemons to my citrus garland because I like the brightness. Some other options are cranberries, apples or even raisins!
-You can make a completely different dried fruit garland, and create a wall of dried fruit garland. (It would look amazing on a plane white wall!)
-If you have a traditional pine garland, this orange garland can be wrapped around or added with string (to create a tiered effect).
-You can add cinnamon sticks to your garland instead of essential oils, which would go beautifully with the bright orange and also bring the delicious smell of cinnamon into your space. This one is beautiful!
-By adding metal wires or even ribbon or twine to your dried orange slices, they can easily become orange slice ornaments. These would be a great, easy, low cost gift for your kiddos to gift to their friends and loved ones! A Beautiful Mess has a great tutorial for that right here!
-Using either a cardboard base, or a metal base with some rope or twine, you can make a dried orange wreath using your dried orange slices. A dried orange wreath would be a great way to welcome both your loved ones and the returning sun this holiday season.
-You can keep your orange wreath up after you take down your Christmas tree and decorations. (Here’s a cheap and simple DIY tutorial for an all season burlap wreath for 3$! ) It can be used to welcome in the new year since it is a symbol of luck and fertility.
How to store your orange garland
One of the magnificent things about this fun craft is that it can last for years (and years!), like for a really long time. Once the orange slices are dried and you are done using them, you can store them in a dry place at room temperature.
I recommend wrapping them in tissue paper to prevent them getting broken, as the middles of the orange rounds do get delicate when they are dried out.
If you opt to put them in an airtight container to be used the following year, make certain that there is no moisture in the container because that moisture will lead to mold growing on the orange slices.
This lat item is one of my favourite things about this DIY! I quite dislike wasting food, however this does not feel like a waste since I am
a) using up the oranges that we would not be eating anyway and
b) we can use the orange garland again next time, so I won’t have to worry about buying an extra bag of oranges next year to make a new garland.
Making a beautiful dried orange garland is one of the first things I do at the beginning of December to get into the holiday spirit. I know that they can be saved from the previous year, but I like to leave it out for the birds and animals as a kind of love and gratitude offering to the Great Mother.
Having that extra punch of orange brightness also always helps me with the seasonal mood crash that happens in winter, and the rich symbolism of it adds an element of depth that I want the things around my home to have.
Here’s to beautiful homes and hopeful hearts! If you make an orange garland, I’d love to see it. If you have a favourite yearly decoration that you make, I’d love to hear about it too!
You might also enjoy reading:
77 Best Gift Ideas for your Wiccan or Pagan loved one (for ANY occasion)
Aja Celeste is a mom to 6 beautiful children and a twin mom! She is also creator and writer of That Zoi Life and a professionally trained Evolutionary Astrologer who has been doing astrology for 7 years. She is also a health care assistant, has a Bachelor of Ministry Degree, and is passionate about supporting people in conscious parenting. She also does Psychosomatics using Recall Healing.
Please contact her at [info@ThatZoiLife.com] if you would like to find out more about working with her.