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Festive decor - Xmas wreaths

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For those of you who are from cooler climates, like myself, you'll be feeling a little out of place this Christmas. But never fear, here's a winter project to decorate your home for the holiday season in a truly festive and tropical manner.

Making Christmas wreaths is a whole lot of fun and can be done in many different ways, though I suggest gathering some friends together with cookies and plenty of eggnog.

Items necessary for the tropical Christmas wreath are: seven rattan canes, three to four centimetres long and one centimetre in diameter, garden snips, fresh flowers, tropical greens, ribbon, a little bit of thin wire and Christmas ornaments.

The best place to purchase rattan cane is from Veng Houth on the corner of Sothearos and Norodom boulevards. It is not displayed, but, if you ask, someone will take you around back and hand-select the cane for you. It runs around 5,000 riels per cane.

There are plenty of places to get Christmas ornaments in town this time of year, but I suggest the International Book Center (IBC). There are three in town: 43-45 Kampuchea Krom, 154E0 Sihanouk Boulevard and 250E0 Monivong Boulevard.

Check out the ribbon selection while you're there, but these can also be picked up when buying flowers. Any market will have a variety of fresh flowers and tropical greens to chose from - I snipped some ferns from a plant on my balcony.

Soak the rattan overnight in a large pan of water to make it pliable. You can take the rustic route and leave the bark on, or take to it with a green scrubby for something a little tidier. You can also bleach, varnish or paint the rattan. After it's been soaked and is nice and bendy, twist it into a wreath and snip off any protruding ends.

At this point it is very important to visualise, figure out where you want to put your wreath and develop a general idea of how it will look when it's finished. Begin with the greens. Cut the ends at a sharp diagonal to make weaving them into the wreath easier. Our arrangement is on top of the wreath, but side and bottom arrangements are beautiful, too.

Once the greens are woven in, place your flowers. We used lotus flowers, which are fun to play with; you can tuck the petals in or pull them away from the center part. Roses, orchids and lilies are also good choices.

Next it's time to do some camouflaging. Make a ribbon bow by looping and twisting the ribbon between your fingers and securing it with a bit of wire. Place the bow wherever empty spots or stems are hanging out. Most stems can be clipped off, but as you will find, arranging it all can be a bit of a struggle and some stems may simply poke out.

Finally, add an ornament or two and hang your beautiful holiday wreath. To keep it looking fresh for as long as it can, spray the arrangement often with a little bit of water.

Variations include hanging glass balls from ribbon in the centre of the wreath, adding candles or even using your wreath as a centrepiece and laying it flat. Whatever you decide, make sure to have fun and enjoy this Tropical Christmas!

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