Photo: Ralph Anderson
People around the world may kiss under the mistletoe, but in the South, it’s the harvest of this Christmas favorite that’s really steeped in tradition. For generations, Southern couples and families have risen early on December mornings to roam the woods in search of a Christmas tree to chop and mistletoe to shoot down.
What Is Mistletoe?
The white-berried greenery grows in abundance across the region and can be found in large clumps (the size of a head of cabbage or bigger) high atop hardwood trees, such as oaks and elms.
How To Retrieve Mistletoe
Rather than shimmy up the tree to retrieve it, Southerners, resourceful folks that we are, have found the most effective means of collection is with the help of a trusty shotgun. Greenery in hand, we return to the homestead to deck the halls, sip hot cocoa, and maybe even steal a kiss or two.
Instead of hanging wreaths and garland in your home this Christmas, try making a mistletoe kissing ball to hang in your doorway. Follow our instructions and your home will be festive in no time.
Mistletoe Kissing Ball
1) Soak the ball in water. Submerge it for 15 minutes until saturated.
2) Cut floral wire into 1 ½-inch strips. Bend pieces into a U-shape.
3) Cover the ball with sheet moss. Secure it with the floral wire.
4) Cut mistletoe into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Adhere by pushing stems through the moss and directly into the foam ball. (For less sturdy stems, create small holes with an ice pick before inserting.) Heads up: You may need up to 150 small pieces to fully cover the florist foam.
5) Apply florist pins. Place as desired for additional decoration.
6) Add a bow. Starting at one end of the ribbon, fold a 10-inch loop (this will be what you use to hang the ball), and then two 8-inch loops. This will leave you with a 12-inch tail. Cut 6 inches off tail and lay on opposite side of loops. Pinch the loops and tail together at the center, and secure with a 16-inch piece of wire bent in half. Firmly twist the wire until you create a stem sturdy enough to insert in mistletoe ball.
Note: Keep mistletoe out of reach of children and pets, as the plant and berries are poisonous.