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Feliz Navidad! How-to Celebrate by Making Easy Mini Ristra Ornaments and Gift Toppers
Submitted by Pam on Mon, 12/16/2013 - 18:30
Today, December 16th is the beginning of the 9 days of Las Posadas - a centuries old tradition in Mexico and in many towns and villages in New Mexico in which the search for "a room in the inn" is re-enacted every night until Christmas. Children and their parents wander through their neighborhood visiting home after home until finally they are welcomed in for delicious holiday treats and singing and sometimes breaking of a pinata.
I am marking this day with a little tutorial using two items that are the basis for many beloved foods eaten this time of year - corn and chile.
Festive mini ristras! They can be used as tree ornaments, hung as garland in windows or over mantels, even tied on packages in place of bows. And as they are said to bring good furtune when placed outside a doorway of a home, I have one hanging - right outside the doorway to my home!!
Happily, dried red chile is available in most markets these days and the corn husks I used to make these in October can be replaced with raffia!! Raffia doesn't curl and twist as it dries but, it is still quite pretty.
Note: You could also use the dried corn husks packaged for use in crafts and for wrapping tamales, but usually they seem to be quite sturdy and won't curl and twist like the fresh will. But still pretty!!!
HOW TO MAKE MINI RISTRAS
1. All that is needed are fresh corn husks (or raffia), dried red chile, dental floss, scissors, and your choice of "bow material" - I have used red raffia, yarn, fabric.
2. Cut the corn husks into about 4" long chunks and then tear them into very thin strips - 1/4" or less.
3. Lay 8 to 12 strips on a flat surface and place the red chile on top.
4. Cut a piece of dental floss about 12" long. Gather the strips around the top of the chile pod stem and tie securely with the floss. I usually wind the floss around two or three times and tie off with a surgeon's knot.
5. Set aside and watch as the corn husk strips dry and twist and curl! Let dry overnight.
You can see in the comparison shot above how the fresh corn husk curls into fanciful magic as it dries.
6. Once dried, if you feel like you want more twirly goodness, simply add more strips and let them dry.
7. Tie on a bow and you are done!!!
Mine have already enjoyed a month on the ever-changing 4' "seasonal" tree and are now hanging as a garland in my kitchen window.
But one of my favorite uses is to tie them onto gifts! Friends who have received one in this way tell me they have hung their mini ristra in their kitchen. Others have told me they crumbled the chile pod and used it to add a little spicy heat to a dish!!
Enjoy and Feliz Navidad.