Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Patterned-Paper Christmas Trees

Spruce up your Chrsitmas décor with these patterned-paper trees. Cut or punch a decorative edge from 1 x 2-1/2 inch and 3/4 x 2-1/2 inch strips of patterned paper, curl the edges by wrapping them around a pencil. Using a hot-glue gun glue the pieces to a foam cone. Top each tree with a star cut from felt and held in place with wire and add a gem for sparkle. Decorate the tree with buttons, gems, glitter etc.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

DIY Easy Eco Friendly Place Settings & Favours

We came across these gorgeous DIY Eco Friendly Place Settings and Favours on The Wedding Chicks. They are easy to put together, stylish, colorful, and eco-friendly. Plus your guests can take them home and enjoy them long after the wedding. 

What you will need…
Recycled Paper Scissors
Any small potted plant
Potting Gloves
Potting shovel (if needed)
Twine Hole Puncher
Small Terracotta Pot 

How to…
1. Start off by planting one of your flower/herb plants into the small Terracotta pot.
2. Print your saying of choice on your recycled paper. Eg: “Please plant this flower to remember our day and watch our love blossom in your garden everyday”. Once printed, cut into small strips.
3. Using the hole puncher, punch a hole in the top left corner of the strip. Cut the twine to desired length (determined by how many times you wish to wrap around the pot).
4. Cut the twine to desired length (determined by how many times you wish to wrap around the pot).
5. Last but not least, wrap twine around the pot and tie off in the front, making a bow, and place at each place setting. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fortune Cookie Favours

Share romantic wishes with your guests in homemade chocolate fortune cookies favours. Handwrite or photocopy lines from classic love poems, or make up your own fortunes and place them inside for your guests to discover.  

Ingredients (makes 50)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large egg whites
1 cup superfine sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons Dutch cocoa
Pinch salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
50 paper fortunes

1. Heat oven to about 200 degrees. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt butter; set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar, and beat on medium speed until frothy, about 30 seconds. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt, and beat until combined. Add the melted butter, cream, almond extract, and vanilla extract, and beat until combined, about 30 seconds.
3. Drop a heaping teaspoon of batter onto a Silpat baking mat fitted in a baking pan, or use a nonstick baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter, spacing dollops at least 5 inches apart. Using the back of a tablespoon, spread each one into a 4-inch circle. Place baking pan in oven, and bake the favors until the edges darken slightly, about 5 minutes.
4. Transfer the baking pan to a heat-resistant surface. Working quickly, slide an offset spatula under a cookie, and flip it over. Roll the cookie into a loose tube, and insert a paper fortune into the middle so that both the edges extend from the cookie. Using your index finger, make an indentation in the center of the tube, then pinch each end together with your other hand. Repeat the rolling-and-folding process with remaining cookies. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Wreath

To make a wreath that really lasts, raid the wrapping-paper stash and search for offcuts in the sewing basket. Cut them into squares and layer them onto a cardboard ring to create a bright, bohemian, mini masterpiece. Finish it all off by adorning your handmade wreath with details such as bird cut-outs and buttons. They add a charming touch.

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sticky Date Christmas Pudding


Turn traditional spiced fruit pudding into a new Christmas classic with sweet dates and caramel. It's sure to be a hit every Christmas! 

Ingredients (serves 10)
150g Sunbeam Mixed Fruit
125ml (1/2 cup) brandy
235g (1 1/2 cups) pitted dates, coarsely chopped
250ml (1 cup) hot water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Melted butter, to grease
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature
160g (1 cup, lightly packed) brown sugar
3 eggs
300g (2 cups) self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground ginger
Thickened cream (optional), to serve  

Spiced caramel sauce
300ml thickened cream
160g (1 cup, lightly packed) brown sugar
50g unsalted butter, chopped
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mixed spice

1. Combine the mixed fruit and brandy in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight to macerate.
2. Combine the dates, water and bicarbonate of soda in a heatproof bowl. Set aside for 20 minutes to soften.
3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease a 2L (8 cup) pudding basin with butter. Line the base with non-stick baking paper. Use an electric beater to beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the brandy mixture, date mixture, flour, mixed spice and ginger until just combined. Spoon into the prepared basin and smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Set aside in the basin for 10 minutes to cool.
4. To make the spiced caramel sauce, combine the cream, sugar, butter, ginger and mixed spice in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes or until smooth. Simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly.
5. Turn the pudding out onto a serving platter and serve with the caramel sauce and cream, if desired.   

Start this recipe a day ahead. For an alcohol-free pudding, replace the brandy with apple juice.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Shimmering Stacked Christmas Trees

We came across these gorgeous shimmering stacked tree's on Martha Stewart. They will add a festive and eco-friendly touch to your home this holiday season. These magnificent trees can also be stacked using any leftover aluminum foil, felt, or crepe paper. 

Tools and Materials
4 ounces Sculpey clay
10-inch, 6mm thick knitting needle
Craft glue
Clear glass glitter
Receipt spike (optional)
2 pieces 6-by-6-inch card stock
Utility knife
Bone folder
Adhesive spray
Hot-glue gun and glue
2 paper Dresden stars 

1. Roll and flatten 4 ounces sculpting clay to form dome shape. Poke knitting needle horizontally through flat area of clay dome. Remove knitting needle.
2. Bake clay in oven at 275 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Reinsert needle into baked clay. Glue felt on bottom of base for surface protection.
3. Apply glue, then glitter, to the base. A receipt spike can be used to create a smaller tree instead of building a base using the above instructions.
4. To form tree, place 2 pieces of 6-by-6-inch card stock onto spike for stability.
5. Cut newspaper into 50 sheets of each size:
  • 6 x by 6 inches
  • 5 x 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches
  • 5 x by 5 inches
  • 4 x 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches
  • 4 x by 4 inches
  • 3 x 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches
  • 3 x by 3 inches
  • 2 x 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches
  • 2 x by 2 inches
  • 1 x 1/2 by 1/2 inch
6. Cut 25 1-inch sheets of newspaper.
7. Begin poking pieces of newspaper onto spike in descending order, folding and unfolding each piece of paper using a bone folder.
8. Spray tree with adhesive and immediately sprinkle with diamond dust. Set aside and let dry for 10 minutes.
9. Using a hot-glue gun, adhere 2 paper Dresden stars back-to-back to top of tree.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Family Photos

Turn a blank stairway all into a display of treasured family photos. Print the pictures in sepia or black and white to give the photo an older feel. Use a variety of image sizes and display inside weathered or antiqued frames.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Gingerbread Men


Share the love at Christmas with beautiful hand-made baked goodies as gifts.

Ingredients (makes 30)
125g butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup white chocolate melts
Silver cachous, to decorate

1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add maple syrup and egg. Beat to combine.
2. Sift flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon over butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, stir until just combined and a soft dough forms. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead gently until smooth. Shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
3. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line 3 baking trays with baking paper. Roll dough between 2 sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick. Using a 6.5cm-long, 7cm-wide gingerbread man cutter, cut shapes from dough. Re-roll dough scraps and cut to make a total 30 gingerbread men. Place, 2cm apart, on prepared trays.
4. Bake 1 tray at a time for 20 to 25 minutes, or until just firm to touch. Stand on trays for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
5. Place melts in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high (75%) for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds or until smooth. Spoon into a small snap-lock bag. Snip off 1 corner. Pipe faces and buttons onto gingerbread men. Decorate with cachous. Set aside to set.

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Handmade Christmas Crackers


Making your own crackers or bon-bons are as easy as pie – you can fill them with trinkets, sweets, and personal jokes or year-ahead predictions.

What you will need
Cracker ‘bangers’
Empty toilet paper rolls
Double-sided sticky tape
Mid-weight wrapping paper

1. Place a banger through each roll, then fill with trinkets.
2. Cut paper into lengths to wrap snugly around each roll with a 4cm overhang at each end to disguise the 'bangers'.Secure paper around roll with double-sided tape.
3. Carefully twist the overhang and secure with ribbon.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Paper Snowflakes


We came across this great DIY Christmas snowflake decoration on Kids Spot. Paper snowflakes are fun to make, especially as each one is different! They look fabulous stuck on a wall, strung together in front of a window or placed over contrasting coloured gift wrap as present toppers. You could also glue a small one on a dark-coloured card to make handmade Christmas cards or you could laminate a huge A3-sized snowflake as a placemat – the uses are endless.   

Paper (plain white A4, coloured or patterned - it's up to you)

1. Cut an A4 size sheet into a square by folding a corner into a triangle and cutting off the excess rectangle. You can use the leftover strip to make smaller snowflakes.
2. Fold the triangle in half to make a smaller triangle.
3. Keep the 'open' end of the triangle to the left and the main fold on your right. Then visually divide the triangle into thirds. Fold the right-hand side down so the bottom right corner is poking down below the bottom of the triangle.
4. Fold the left hand side over on top of the other side so it resembles an arrow head.
5. Turn over to reveal a straight line across the top of the smaller triangles. Cut along this line to even it off.
6. Cut shapes into both sides of the triangle and unfold to reveal your shape!  

This cut (with the main fold on the right-hand side and the 'open' side on the left) makes the large six-pointed star in the centre of the main image. 

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

White Chocolate & Berry Cheesecake

Looking for a cool Christmas dessert? Try out this stunning white chocolate and berry cheesecake. It's sure to be a winner!
Ingredients (serves 10) 
12 Cottage Cookies White Choc & Macadamia biscuits
300g frozen mixed berries
2 tablespoons boiling water
3 1/2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
180g white chocolate, chopped
2 x 250g blocks Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
185ml can light evaporated milk
1. Line base and sides of a 6cm-deep, 22cm round springform pan with baking paper. Arrange biscuits, in a single layer, over base of pan. Top with half the berries. Place boiling water in a small, heatproof jug. Sprinkle over gelatine. Using a fork, whisk until gelatine has dissolved.
2. Place chocolate in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on high (100%) for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, or until melted and smooth. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in evaporated milk, chocolate and gelatine mixture. Pour cream cheese mixture into pan. Scatter with remaining berries. Cover and refrigerate overnight or until set. 

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wedding Car Decorations from Weddingstar

Weddingstar have a mix of classic and contemporary wedding car decorations so can make a bold entrance and exit. These sturdy corrugated cardboard shapes can be the basis for a work of art. Use the reverse unprinted side to truly personalise this decoration. When used in combination with other decorative materials the options are limited only by your imagination. From plastic poms to decals, Weddingstar has your vehicles covered. 

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Monday, November 14, 2011

How To Make A Garland

We came across this simple tutorial on how to make a garland on HomeLife. This gorgeous paper and tulle garland was made using unbleached coffee filters, tulle, organza and sheet music on HomeLife. You could use any combination of paper and stiff, filmy fabric to suit your colour scheme. 

What you will need…
100 unbleached coffee filters
10 A4 pieces sheet music (or equivalent decorative paper)
1m tulle
1m organza
Dressmaker’s pins
Safety pin
4m ribbon

How to…
1. Open each coffee filter out to create a rough semi-circle, then glue pairs together along the straight edge to create a rough circle. Allow to dry then trim to shape. Use one of the filter circles as your template for the rest of the garland.
2. Fold the tulle over 5 times to create a long, thin rectangle with five layers. Pin as many coffee filters as you can along the tulle, then cut out. Repeat using the organza.
3. Make a neat pile of sheet music then trace around a coffee filter with the pencil, fitting as many circles as you can onto the top sheet. Holding the paper in a pile, cut around the traced circles.
Arrange your different circles into four neat piles, each material in a separate pile. To make each flower for the garland, layer the coffee filters, fabric and sheet music circles into small piles. Each pile should be slightly different, but should start and finish with a filter.
4. Take each pile and tack together using the needle and thread, then use the scalpel to cut a slit in the centre of each.
5. Attach the safety pin to one end of the ribbon, feed the pin and ribbon through the centre slit of one garland flower, tie a knot in the ribbon on either side of the flower, then repeat with each garland flower. Leave a 40cm tail at either end, and 15cm between each flower.
6. To finish, fluff the garland flowers by folding the layers outwards from the centre of each pile, pressing and smoothing folds to help them stand out.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

Mini Choc Caramel Dessert Cakes

If you're short on time this weekend but big on flavour, these little choc-caramel dessert cakes are the perfect solution for a quick and easy but oh so tasty dessert.  

Ingredients (makes 12)
1/2 x 175g bag Caramello Nibbles
200g dark chocolate, chopped
125g butter, chopped
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Choc-caramel ganache
1/2 x 175g bag Caramello Nibbles
100g dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup thickened cream

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line a 12-hole, 1/3-cup capacity muffin pan with paper cases (see note). Reserve 12 Nibbles. Finely chop remaining Nibbles.
2. Place chocolate and butter in a large heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on medium (50%) for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute with a metal spoon, or until melted and smooth.
3. Whisk in sugar. Stand for 2 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder over chocolate mixture. Whisk to combine. Whisk in finely chopped Nibbles. Spoon into paper cases. Top each with 1 reserved Nibble. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted in centre of 1 cake comes out with crumbs clinging. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly.
4. Meanwhile, make ganache Place Nibbles, chocolate and cream in a heatproof, microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium-high (75%) for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring with a metal spoon every 30 seconds or until melted and smooth. Remove cakes from paper cases. Drizzle with ganache. Serve. 

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

DIY Eco-Friendly Favours

We came across this great DIY Eco-Friendly Favors on Ruffle. These soy wax candle favors were made using recycled materials, natural ingredients, and it’s also very budget-friendly. 

What you’ll need…
Soy wax flakes 
Containers (they can be vintage teacups, recycled jars…)
Pitcher with spout
Fragrance oil 
Popsicle sticks, chopsticks, or something to hold the wick 
Candle dye (optional)
1. Melt soy wax flakes in a double boiler, add in your favorite scents and dye. Once flakes have completely melted, set your pot away to cool down for a few seconds. In the meantime, warm up your glass containers using a blow-dryer for a minute. This will help the wax cool more evenly! Pour wax into containers, thread wick with Popsicle stick and let it cool for a few hours until solid. Cut wick about 1/4 inch long.


2. For the packaging, we used recycled handmade gift wrap and watercolor tags. To make these tags, paint sheets of watercolor paper in different hues. Great stress reliever! Cut tags with a paper punch and tie your wedding favors using twine or other eco-friendly ribbon.


3. Add a label on the lids of the jars for guests to easily find their favorite scents. One tip to avoid mislabeling scents when packaging is to add tiny color coding labels on the bottom of the jars before you begin pouring the wax.


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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

DIY Pom-Pom Favor Decorations

Pillowy pom-poms make the perfect adornment for favour boxes or turn large ones into garlands by stringing them side by side. Choose from tulle, organza, and net, perhaps with a lace or Swiss-dot pattern, then set aside just a few minutes to put them together.

Cut fabric into strips (3-inch-wide strips that are 20 inches long) using a rotary cutter, an acrylic ruler, and a cutting mat. (For garland, cut 7-, 9-, or 12-inch-wide strips that are 120 inches long. 

Hand-sew a running stitch down the center (tie a knot in the end of your sewing thread, leaving a long tail), stopping after about 12 inches to push the fabric along the thread to gather it. Continue stitching and bunching until you reach end of strip; gather the fabric tightly, and tie the tails of the sewing thread in a knot. 

To make puffs into garlands, use a long large-eyed needle, such as a darning needle or upholstery needle, to sew white string through the centers of the pom-poms, and slide the pom-poms into position as you go. (Trim the ends of the sewing thread at any point after knotting.)

To use a puff to grace a favor box or as a hair decoration, use the tails of the sewing thread to tie or sew the pom-pom to the headband, the favor ribbon, or to the loop of a bobby pin; then trim the thread.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Make Your Own Flower Arrangements

Creating a classic and impressive flower arrangement doesn't have to be difficult. With a few simple steps you can turn a grocery store bouquet into a masterfully crafted centerpiece. Here's how…

• Start with cohesive color scheme (pinks in every shade is a great choice).
• Arrange the flowers in your hand, placing the larger flowers near the base of the group.
• Pay attention to height and shape by arranging taller stems near the top and back.
• Lightly bind the stems with twine and place in a vase.
• Fill in the gaps with small blooms.
• Insert a few leaves of greenery near the bottom to form a casual rim for the arrangement.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Almond & Raspberry Flourless Chocolate Cakes

Bake straight from the heart to create these cute cakes for a weekend treat!
Ingredients (serves 2)
Light olive oil spray, to grease
60g butter
55g (1/4 cup) caster sugar
1 1/2 tbs cocoa powder
30g (1/4 cup) almond meal
1 egg, lightly whisked
1 tbs milk
Fresh raspberries, to serve  

Chocolate ganache
150g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 tbs pouring cream
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Spray two 9cm (base measurement across the widest part) heart-shaped cake pans with oil.
2. Combine the butter, sugar and cocoa powder in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Beat the almond meal, egg and milk into the cocoa mixture. Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until firm to the touch. Set aside to cool slightly before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
4. To make the chocolate ganache, combine the chocolate and cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until mixture is smooth. Set aside, stirring occasionally, until the mixture cools and thickens.
5. Spread the chocolate ganache over the cakes. Top with raspberries. 

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Chalkboard Placemats From SAND,F

These Chalkboard Placemats from SAND,F will make meal time at your reception just that little bit more fun and interesting. They are an interactive table top item which engages guests children and adults alike.

Write your guests names on the Chalkboard Placemat to create a large place card, or draw something to personalise the setting. As the night and conversation progresses, your guests will naturally to start to write and draw. 

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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Throw a Cooking Themed Bridal Shower

For the bride-to-be who loves to cook, Martha Stewart has given some great ideas to help throw a cooking themed bridal shower.

Send guests invitations framed on mini cutting boards. Make your invitations with a utensil illustration then place each invitation on a cutting board with double-sided tape. Then simply wrap with ribbon (a colour that matches your whole theme) and mail in a small padded envelope.

Your RSVP cards will become precious gifts when they're returned with recipes that loved ones hold dear. With these RSVPs even those who can't attend will take part in the celebration. You can save some time by having an office-supply store craft a stamp; just provide a design of how you want the card to look, including a place for the guest to fill in her name, response, and recipe. Once all of the replies have been received, the shower's host can put them in a recipe box and wrap it for the bride.

Instead of having guests take part in traditional shower games, hire a chef to teach a cooking class during the party. The bride-to-be and her guests will be able to learn how to make a delicious dish, savor it as a meal at the shower, and take the recipe home with them to make again and again.

Ask guests to bring gifts that will help the bride-to-be make her favorite dishes. If a guest gives a favorite muffin recipe, she can also give the mixer, the muffin pans, and the necessary ingredients.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Create Your Very Own Shabby Chic Boutonniere

We came across this simple tutorial on Inspired Bride. You can save money and create your very own Shabby Chic Boutonniere. These are perfect for that vintage inspired wedding!
What You’ll Need 
David Austin Roses 
Dusty Miller Leaves 
Floral Wire
Wire Cutters
Floral Tape
Floral Shears
Pearl Head Pins
1. Remove the greenery from the stem of each rose. Please be careful – as with other roses, garden roses have thorns, so you may want to remove the greenery with gardening gloves. 
2. With gardening shears, trim each stem to about 3 inches below the base of the flower head. Set the flower aside in a small container with a shallow amount of lukewarm water.
3. Trim off two to three medium sized leaves from a dusty miller plant. Cut as close to the main stem of the plant as you can to get as much stem on the actual leaf as possible. Wire each leaf just below the bottom lobe by poking the wire through the stem cleanly and carefully Fold the wire in half as shown above to create additional support for the leaf and lengthen the stem.
4. Arrange the leaves against the rose so that they line the side you would like to have be the back of the boutonniere. Using floral tape, begin attaching the leaves to the rose. Do not skip this step – using floral ribbon not only creates a smoother work surface for you when you begin to wrap with ribbon, but it holds the florals in place better and also has a sticky surface that will help keep your ribbon in place. Begin wrapping at the top of the stem, close to the base of the flower, towards the bottom, making sure to overlap the floral tape on itself. Cut the floral tape when you reach the bottom, and finish it off by wrapping it on itself so its tacky surface holds the end in place.
5. Repeat the wrapping process with a ribbon. Start at the back of the boutonniere at the same height below the base of the flower as you did with the floral tape. Wrap the ribbon around the floral tape stem, making sure the ribbon is tight enough that it’s not moving or bubbling, but not so restrictive that it may damage the stems underneath. 
6. To finish the wrap, cut the ribbon, tuck it into itself on the back side of the boutonniere, and pin it in place with a pearl head pin.