As the seasons shift and we find ourselves on the doorstep of Christmas, the world of foraging opens new possibilities for crafting unique wintery gifts, indulging in the warmth of Christmas chestnuts, and infusing your surroundings with the festive spirit.
Year-round, we're out there foraging and crafting at The Adventure Service, but come Christmas, we kick it up a notch! Our Adventurers go deep into the woodlands surrounding our three sites, scavenging, and gathering the best finds to craft some seriously cool creations.
Our Adventurers particularly like making bodgimal reindeers, which is a definite favourite and below, we will teach you how to make one:
Crafting Your Reindeer: Step by Step
What you’ll need:
A large log (roughly 3 inches in circumference and 12 - 15 inches long) – this is for the body
1 log about a third of the size of the body – this is for the reindeer’s head
4 lengths of hazel - about an inch in thickness and 12/14 inch long – this is for the legs
an inch by 4 inch long (ish) for the neck
2 antlers (twigs from silver birch, brass, or pine work well)
Expanding glue (though normal wood glue does work)
A Drill bit the size of the legs
A Drill bit the size of the antlers
Where to find what you need:
Woodlands – Sherwood Forest is a great local foraging spot as it has lots of areas of silver birch – which is perfect for the antlers and main body.
Gardens – Trees in your back garden will also be a good place to find your antlers, though getting your main body here may be tricky.
Hardware Stores - for your glue.
Putting it all together:
1. First you’ll need to pick the wood you wish to be the body and decide which end you want the head and which side you want the legs to go into.
2. Once you have made your choice, grab your drill and drill bit for the legs and drill four holes into the bottom of the log.
3. Make sure that the body is horizontal and that the drill is vertical so the legs are straight.
4. Next, flip it over, and drill a hole at a slight forward angle on the end you previously marked for the head.
5. After that, grab the glue and glue in the legs and neck, in the holes you have just created.
6. Finally, drill two holes with your smaller drill bit in the top of the head and place in the antlers.
7. Volia, you now have your very own homemade reindeer.
Don't Forget to Feed Yourself:
While December foraging unveils a world of creative possibilities, don't overlook the delightful winter treats waiting to be discovered on the forest floor.
Thanks to the Romans, who introduced the Chestnut tree almost 2000 years ago, due to its ability to be used in cooking, chestnut trees can be found in most woodlands’, across the UK.
Those practices that were true 2,000 years ago, are still going strong now, with the chestnut proving to be a staple in the Christmas food calendar. Here at The Adventure Service, we like to roast them over a fire to make them even more sweet and smoky.
Where to find them: chestnuts can mostly be found on the floor of woodland areas. They can be found as just the nut itself, or in their casing, which is a spiky, furry ball. Not to be confused with the hard and spiky exterior of the horse chestnut.
What can you do with them: As we’ve said above, The Adventurers love to roast chestnuts over the open fire, to make a smoky winters treat.
Though not as commonly known or foraged for as the chestnut, pine needles are also a perfect Christmas foraging item and being from the East Midlands, pine trees are easy to come by..
Where to find them: Given our rural location and proximity to Sherwood Pines, we are certainly not in short supply. Pine needles can be found on the branches or on the floor surrounding the trees. They tend to come in pairs and are between a couple of inches and six/seven inches long.
What you can do with them: Pine needles can be great for tea. They boast numerous health benefits and are packed with vitamin C.
Remember to Forage responsibly:
Though foraging is great fun, there are a few key things to remember when heading out and picking your wintery loot.
Only take what you need: As with everything in nature, there is only a limited supply. So do only take what you need and no more.
Make sure you have the land owners permission: Some areas of outdoor spaces are protected and this means you cannot forage there. Be sure to check with the land owner before taking anything.
Do not collect rare species: Only take the plants and fruits which you know are okay to pick. If you are unsure, it’s best to avoid taking it out the ground.
Understand your pickings: It’s important to know what it is that your picking. There are a lot of plants, fruits, trees and fungi that are toxic. Be sure to double check before consuming any pickings and never eat anything you are unsure of.
Leave some behind: Similar to the first rule, make sure that you leave enough behind for animals and other foragers. This also means only picking from places that have a big enough supply.
December unfolds as an opportune moment to embark on a foraging adventure — where the bounty goes beyond the realm of festive decorations, extending its allure to include a delectable array of treats and teas that add an extra layer of warmth and flavour to the season. Remember to follow the rules above and be responsible but most of all, enjoy your foraging!
See you out there!