dried orange ornaments.

December 16, 2015

dried orange ornaments | reading my tea leavesFirst a quick note to say message(s) received and rest assured: We have no intention of lighting our apartment on fire in the name of holiday cheer. In a prudent twist on my original plan to create a holiday candle tradition, I’ve decided it’d be a fun and wise plan to light candles on the first night the fresh tree comes inside, and to follow the lighting with rolling candles that we’d use to decorate the tree for the rest of the season, and to light the following year. See how that cycle works? Breathing easier?

But I also wanted to update you on the ornament situation chez nous. In search of a bit of color, I took 5 minutes to slice oranges and pop them into an oven set to a very low temperature. Now our tree is looking sufficiently cheery and sufficiently old-timey and sufficiently earth-friendly to make my heart sing.dried orange ornaments | reading my tea leavesI’m a committed low-impact DIY-er, meaning that I like to make things myself that have a pleasant impact on a space, but low-impact on me in terms of time, and expense, and levels of difficulty. Dried fruit ornaments fit the bill.

I first wrote about making a dried fruit garland in this post, originally published a couple of years ago. The advantage of these simple orange ornaments is that the sun comes streaming through them in a way that gets a little lost with a more abundantly strung garland.orange_ornaments_reading_my_tea_leaves_IMG_1611They’re also terribly easy to make. If I hadn’t been taking photos to share with you, the entire affair would have taken mere minutes (not counting drying time). dried orange ornaments | reading my tea leavesI used a tiny screwdriver to pierce holes near the top of each dried orange slice.dried orange ornaments | reading my tea leaves
I used cotton twine to string my orange ornaments, but you can use whatever ribbon, yarn, or wire you’d like. 

What you need:

Oranges (Any kind’ll do. I used two naval oranges I found lingering in the fridge drawer.)
Sharp knife
Cookie sheet
Drying rack
Small screwdriver (or similarly poke-y instrument for making a hole in the dried fruit)

+ Begin by slicing your oranges into 1/3-inch rounds. (Be careful to cut the slices as evenly as possible. Thinner sections will dry more quickly and could burn or curl in a warm oven before the thicker sections have a chance to dry.) (Wash well first if you plan to include them in mulling spices or other edible treats).

+ Place a drying rack on top of a cookie sheet and arrange orange slices on top of the rack. (If you don’t have a drying rack, you can place the slices directly onto the cookie sheet, but in that case, you’ll need to flip the slices every 1/2 hour or so.)

+ Place orange slices in a warm oven set to the lowest possible temperature. (That’s about 200 degrees F for me, but if you can go lower, do). Bake oranges for 2-4 hours until dried. I like to err on the shorter side of total time spent in the oven, and allow my oranges to finish drying completely on the tree. 

+ Pierce a small hole near the top of your orange (below the rind) and string with twine, ribbon, or wire as you prefer.dried orange ornaments | reading my tea leavesDried oranges make a sweet ornament to a simple Christmas tree, but they’d also make a nice addition to a pouch of mulling spices, or a simple gift wrap. And the best part? If properly dried, the orange ornaments will last and last. But once they become too fusty to keep, or if you don’t have the place to store them, or if the theme for your tree is more white and gold than, say, orange and honey, then into the compost they go, with a nary a landfill filled.

More wintry posts, this way.

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  • Reply Melanie December 16, 2015 at 9:48 am

    What a wonderful idea that must smell delicious! =)

  • Reply El December 16, 2015 at 10:14 am

    A note for NEXT year: I agree that a candle lit Christmas tree is beautiful. But they do carry a significant risk even when the tree is fresh. If you live in an apartment building that risk is also your neighbor’s risk and one that you should share with them. Please keep in mind that people with mobility issues, children and the elderly are especially vulnerable during a fire. On the bright side it is possible that everybody will be comfortable with a candle lit tree and may even want to join you for the lighting!

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 16, 2015 at 10:17 am

      Very much understood! Have absolutely zero interest in causing a fire–indeed am terrified of one myself—and would only light the candles under the safest conditions!

  • Reply Sally December 16, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Quick question – what’s your method of composting in a small apartment? Don’t know if you have covered this already in the blog but I’m definitely interested. 🙂

  • Reply Rachel December 16, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Just wanted to say I love the candles, love the oranges & am so over internet concern-trolling!

  • Reply Liv December 16, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    As many europeans noted on your earlier post about candles, I chime in to say: we do it every year! And I have never experienced any accidents. Just use your common sense.
    I’m also loving the idea with oranges! My boyfriend and I are hosting christmas celebrations for the first time, and I have been reluctant to go out and by a bunch of cheap ornaments just to have something to “fill up” the tree. Inspired by my father-in-law – and now you – I have been collecting various natural and degradable things to hang from the tree, as well as a few carefully selected glass ornaments – and candles of course. It’s both cheap and environmentally-friendly!

  • Reply claudia December 17, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    Between you and me, at my daughter’s jardin d’enfants (Waldorf), they did the candles (with fire) in the Christmas tree…with many little excited kids in the room. However, they have very strict rules (that other readers previously told you I’m sure!). It was magical 🙂 However, kids (and adults) at Waldorf schools are very used to candle ceremony…the advent spiral with candles on the floor was way more dangerous (each parent had a bucket of water under their seat) and beautiful!

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 17, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      Sounds so festive and lovely! Thanks so much for your note!

  • Reply JPB December 19, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    There is no other way than real candles to me 🙂 I don’t get the safety concerns.

    I usually just do the Oranges on the heater for a few days, a little bit less of a hassle than putting on the oven…

  • Reply Anna December 30, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I do this with the lemons and cinnamon from my glühwein (mulled wine). The lemons are beautiful. Their flesh is a deep purple and the skin a sunny yellow. It also makes my house smell great! I make them into garlands for my hall. It’s the first thing I smell when I walk in from the cold.

  • Reply Martina January 4, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    I know I’ve missed the boat and Christmas is already over, but I just wanted to add an alternative perspective…my parents have been lighting candles on their tree on Christmas Eve, Day, and New Years’ Eve (same tree!) every year of my 25 years of life. Their parents have been doing this every year of my parents’ lives. Never have we set a tree on fire. We spray it top to bottom (and up again) with water every day, place the candles sensibly, keep an eye on it at all times, and have a big bucket of water next to it just in case. So far, so good, and I’m not anticipating any change.

  • Reply Sara January 4, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Hi Erin!

    I was inspired by your previous dried fruit project a couple of years back which I now do each Christmas. This year I made a garland! Just spotted this post and wanted to say thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    Happy new year!

  • Reply Emily Barbeau December 7, 2018 at 9:21 am

    HI Erin! Do you think using dried clementines would work? I have a bunch on my counter and would love to use them up!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 7, 2018 at 10:55 am

      Not sure! The peel of clementines and the membranes between each segment is pretty thin, so I can’t predict exactly how that might turn out once dried!

  • Reply Stéphanie Salenc December 10, 2022 at 6:45 am

    Encore quelque chose de toi que je suis en train de fabriquer. Merci tout est beau ici ❤️

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE December 10, 2022 at 8:14 am

      C’est avec plaisir!


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