The first of May is May Day, a lightly observed holiday celebrating spring. It is derived from pagan festivals of Celt and Germanic origins celebrating the end of winter. In the United States the day is now celebrated with the dancing of the Maypole and gifting of May baskets. A classic image of young children frolicking and laughing around a Maypole highlights essence of spring. The rebirth of flora and fauna is commemorated during this day.
When I was a child, my mother would help my sister and I make May Day baskets for the neighbors. It was a lot of fun to put them on their door step; knowing that they would get a surprise when they opened their door. I think of the May basket as a wonderful example of a random act of kindness. A beautiful basket of flowers on one’s door step delivered anonymously is a pleasant and thoughtful surprise for the recipient. It is also inexpensive and simple to make. (I imagine the holiday is not as popular because of the lack of commercial outlet.) I thought of some ideas for floral baskets that will help you get started on a spring craft.
A May Day basket can be as simple or complex as time, money and patience allows. I spent about a half an hour making mine after buying a few items for 12 dollars, a bouquet of flowers for 15 dollars and pulling out some cached craft supplies from my closet. The project seemed a bit daunting at first. So as I got started I told the voice of perfection talking in my head to take a hike. After that was achieved I could just enjoyed the act of creating the basket.
I first picked out a basket to put everything inside. I went ahead and bought one on sale at the craft store. Another option would be using an old Easter basket, cutting the bottom of a plastic milk jug or just a paper bag cut in half. Any container that would be able to hold flowers would work.
I also bought a small brick of wet foam. It is foam that is moistened to use in floral arrangements. It firmly holds the flower stems in place and gives a bit of water to keep them fresh. It is a bit delicate so it can be damaged but it is easy to cut to the right shape with a dull knife.
Ribbon, string or yarn is a great accent to the outside of the basket. I used some ribbon that I knotted into a bow and secured with some craft wire to the basket’s handle. Get caught up in being creative with the decorating. Any craft accent personalizes the basket. If I had a Bedazzler or hot glue gun I would add lots of little plastic gems!
Next the flowers are added to the foam. I bought a large bouquet from a young lady manning a tent in a convenience store parking lot. The flowers were grown locally at a small flower and vegetable farm. I see the tent out there rain or shine in the spring and summer. I cut the stems to varying sizes and stick them in the foam. The basic idea is to put enough flowers and accent shrubbery in to fill the basket so the foam can’t be seen anymore but not too much that they are all squished together.
Once all the flowers have been added finishing items are placed around the base of the flower stems. I found some decorative moss and potpourri mix stashed away in my craft box.
Now off to play ding-dong-ditch to some lucky recipient.