It was tradition in England to decorate the halls of castles, manor houses, and the homes of the working class with fresh greenery. Pine trees with their evergreen needles not only brought life into the winter home but also that wonderful aroma that we all associate with the holidays. Holly bushes were not only green, as well, but they also had colorful berries to brighten up the home. As part of this early tradition, people would make what they called a Christmas kissing ball. This consisted of lots of greenery and, of course, mistletoe. Instead of buying one of those plastic balls to hang up in your home, you can make your own with materials that you can find in your own yard or neighborhood. (Note: There are several designs that can be used to make a Christmas Kissing Ball. This just happens to be the one that I prefer.)
What you will need:
Round styrofoam ball
Wire and/or pins
Optional: Christmas decorations, berries, bows
Step 1: Take a stroll around your yard, through the woods, or even go visit your neighbors to collect the greenery that you will need. Be sure to take a pair of pruners with you. You might also want to first ask your neighbor's permission before you go clipping off limbs from their bushes. (Neighborhood feuds have started over less, you know.) By the way, boxwood was often used to cover the ball. If you compare that awful plastic kissing ball to boxwoods, you will notice that the leaves look very similar. You can, however, use pine and/or holly if you prefer. Also, be sure to collect a lot of greenery, because you will need it to completely cover the styrofoam ball. You can also try to get some mistletoe down that you might find in a tree. Good luck with that, though. (In my area of Northeast Tennessee, we shoot it down from the tree. Your neighbors, however, might frown on your appearing in their yard with a shotgun. I would recommend that you just buy some from a local gardening center or greenhouse.) Tip: If you wind up with too much greenery, just make a bouquet to place in a some type of Christmas vase or container.
Step 2: Cut your sprigs of greenery about 4-5 inches long and begin sticking them into the styrofoam ball. (You can find this plus the other materials at any arts and crafts store.) You want to make sure that there are no bare spots and that the ball looks full and green. Stick the mistletoe in the bottom of the ball so that it hangs down a few inches. Tip: If the mistletoe is not long enough, wire it to some type of pick or stick that you will then push into the bottom of the styrofoam ball.
Step 3: You can now decorate your Christmas kissing ball as you see fit. I like to make a bow from the ribbon to place at the top. Use some wire to make a hanger and attach the bow to that. You can use berries, small Christmas ornaments, or small bows to further decorate your kissing ball if you do not want it to be all green. You can also attach streamers at the bottom where you have attached the mistletoe. Tip: You can also use small pine cones amongst the green of your kissing ball.
Step 4: Hang your Christmas kissing ball in a doorway or in the middle of a room. Encourage the one you would like to kiss to stand under it with you and ... have a Merry Christmas!
For other Christmas gift and decorating ideas that you can make at home, see:
References:Acadia Wreath Company. Kissing Ball.
Do It Yourself: Boxwood Christmas Crafts. Boxwood Kissing Ball by Teresa Opdycke.