Christmas upon Christmas I strew sprigs of mistletoe around the house. They’re draped over light fittings, taped into doorways, all the usual. And they look sweet. I’m just not sure that ‘sweet’ is the goal. So this year it’s time to amp it up with these opulently beautiful Kissing Balls of mistletoe.
If a sprig of mistletoe as being the kiss equivalent of a peck on the cheek, then these are definitely full-on smackers.
The Victorians’ usual reticence about public displays of affection was – at least partially – jettisoned during festive balls when a gentleman could waltz the object of his affections towards a mistletoe Kissing Ball and claim a sedate kiss. The traditions of using mistletoe to decorate homes at Christmas go back much further, of course. As does its symbolism of love, fertility, hope and prosperity. If mistletoe can bring all of those things into a house then I’m definitely up for having more than a sprig of it about the place.
It’s a very simple idea: a ball of floristry oasis is stuck all over with mistletoe and then hung up with ribbon. In the days before online shopping made it possible to arrange next-day delivery of floristry oasis, a potato or apple would be used as the decoration’s centre. Not as mad as it sounds. The oasis is used so that the greenery can extract its moisture and look fresh for longer – an apple or potato would do the same. They’re a bit small, though, for the impressive look I’m after.
Traditionally these Kissing Balls would also contain herbs that were prized for their scent and symbolism. I like that idea so will be nestling some love and loyalty (rosemary) and some courage (thyme) in amongst the mistletoe.
You will need:
A sphere of green floristry oasis – 9cm diameter is a good size
Approx 60cm ribbon
Lots of mistletoe and sprigs of herbs – each about 10cm long
A few 10cm long florist pins – decorative ones if you fancy
A knitting needle or skewer
1. Soak the oasis in water for around 15 minutes. When it comes out sit it on a towel. You want it damp, not dripping.
2. Cut the mistletoe and herbs at an angle and strip a few centimetres of leaves away from the end to give you enough bare stem to jab into the oasis.
3. Find the centre of the ribbon and hold that in place on the oasis. Bring the ribbon around the sided of the sphere and at the base point where they meet twist them and bring them up round the other sides of the oasis. It gives you four even sections of oasis. Securely tie the ribbon at the top and secure in place with some pins.
4. Fill your ball with mistletoe and herbs by spearing them into the oasis. The ribbon dividers can be concealed with greenery or not, as you prefer. The decorative floristy pins can be scattered through the arrangement.
Then simply use the ribbon to hang your Kissing Ball up.