Homemade Christmas Presents Part 1 - Dried Fruit Wreath

Guess what! Christmas is only 3 months away! For me, that means i need to start figuring out what to make for Christmas presents for my family and friends! Financially we're unable to purchase gifts that would be truly appreciated so we just put some ingenuity and a lot of love and work into our presents instead! Here is what I made for my mothers last year. I went to several thrift and goodwill stores and picked up some of these for about $1.00 each.
FloraCraft Straw Wreath 12" Clear Wrap

New they are about $3.00 so it's still a good purchase if you can't find them at Goodwill. Then I got oranges and apples (we received 2 fruit baskets as presents and we don't go through fruit very quickly - so it was perfect!). I probably used a bag of apples and a bag of oranges to make 2 wreaths. This also works great on apples and oranges that are just about to go bad because you're not going to eat them anyway!
I got cinnamon sticks (which I had bought in bulk at an Amish store so I already had tons!) 
and dried bay leaves (which I already had enough to last me all of eternity!)
and another purchase was a bag of raffia ($1.00 at my Dollar store) 

Make sure you use some raffia and attach a hanger on the back of your wreath before you start adding fruit. 

I sliced all of my oranges and apples (don't remove the seeds and cut so you can see the stars in the apple slices) about 1/4 inch if thinner it's ok just go ahead and use them - making them different widths and sizes add to the wreath. Then I threw them in my dehydrator over night. Remember you are not eating these so the firmer they are the less chance of mold later. However, I tried to dry the oranges longer to make them not sticky and they ended being as hard as frisbees and were more difficult to mold to the shape of the wreath and were still sticky so don't worry about the stickiness - if they've been drying for 8 hours or so they'll be fine.

in the morning I had this! 

and this

then I used my handy dandy glue gun and went to town on my wreath! 

I just used a little creativity to obtain the look I wanted and randomly glued the pieces all over the form of the wreath (leaving the back bare) After the fruit was glued down I added the cinnamon sticks in random places 

and the bay leaves went underneath the raffia bow. 

I wish I had pictures of the process but I wasn't blogging or recording my life in pictures so all I have is the finished product which has hung on my front door for the last year. The fruit has changed colors as you can see - the oranges were a beautiful orange color and now are a really dark brown and the apples were white and turned pink for a little while and now they too are brown. However, I still love the look so I think it will last forever! If you wanted to you could spray it with a sealer but it smells so amazing for several months that I didn't want to ruin that! I kept it inside for quite a while until the scent was gone then I put it on my front door which is where it changed colors so keep that in mind. If you're going to store it away make sure it is in a VERY dry place and loosely wrapped or it will mold - it is still food! 

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