Kissing balls for Christmas are spheres of pine, holly or fir boughs, sometimes with mistletoe hanging from the tip, hung as decorations in homes.
The History of Kissing Balls for Christmas (Christmas Kissing Balls)
Kissing balls for Christmas hail from Medieval times. Evergreen branches were hung over the halls of manor houses and castles. The tradition was that they would ward off evil spirits for the coming year, and bring health and good cheer to the inhabitants walking under them.
Gradually the boughs were transformed into more elaborate decorations, including the Christmas kissing ball. It was during the reign of Queen Victoria that the boughs were fashioned in ball-shaped decorations and adorned with ribbons, holly, and mistletoe. They hung over the dance floors during Christmas parties, and courting couples danced under them to steal a kiss.
Today, the tradition lives on in Holiday decorations around the world. There are even kissing balls for weddings, transferring the spirit of Victorian Christmases past into the romantic wedding themes of today.
Materials to Make Kissing Balls for Christmas
Making a kissing ball for Christmas isn’t difficult. You’ll need the following craft supplies.
- A round styrofoam ball about the diameter of a softball or larger, available from a craft store. Look for green-colored ones to blend in with your green evergreen covered project.
- Red or green Christmas-themed ribbon
- 30 to 50 Boughs of pine, holly or another evergreen. Silk and artificial boughs last longer and are easier to work with. How many you will need depends on the size of the styrofoam ball you are using.
- A thumbtack color coordinated with the ribbon
- If using artificial evergreens, you will need a pair of wire cutters to snip the ends of the picks and snip the boughs to the desired size.
- Hot glue gun
Instructions to Make Christmas Kissing Balls
Cut the boughs so that the end is just a stem; remove all needles and side branches to leave a stem about 2-4″ long that’s completely bare. Place hot glue on the stem, and insert it into the Styrofoam ball. Keep doing this until the entire ball is covered, placing the stems next to each other as closely as you can until the sphere is covered. If you’re using a pick with mistletoe, holly or other Christmas decorations to jazz up your kissing ball for Christmas, place these first, then add solid greens around them.
To attach the hanging ribbon, cut a ribbon to the length desired, leaving about an extra inch at the bottom. Place this at the top of the sphere where you want it and use the thumbtack to hold it in place. Then hot glue it into place on the ball. Add evergreen boughs or other decorations over the ribbon to hide it.
You can add a sprig of mistletoe to the bottom using the same technique as attaching the ribbons. Use a piece of ribbon and tie a bow to the mistletoe spring, leaving approximately 1-2″ of ribbon. Use another tack and hot glue from the glue gun to attach the mistletoe to the bottom. Add a ribbon bow to the top and bottom as desired to complete the look.
Hang in place and enjoy!
Care and Storing Christmas Kissing Balls
If you’ve chosen to use live evergreen boughs, you’ll need to take a few extra steps to keep your Christmas kissing ball looking fresh and beautiful. Mist the final decoration with water from a plant mister during the Christmas season. Try not to get the ribbon wet, as colors may run from certain brands of ribbon.
Artificial kissing balls for Christmas may be stored and used year after year. Find a box with a lid that is larger than the completed kissing ball. Place a large plastic bag over the kissing ball and slide it into the box. Use scraps of foam packing materials or bubble wrap in the corners to hold the ball steady for storage or transportation.
Jeanne Grunert is a certified Virginia Master Gardener and the author of several gardening books. Her garden articles, photographs, and interviews have been featured in The Herb Companion, Virginia Gardener, and Cultivate, the magazine of the National Farm Bureau. She is the founder of The Christian Herbalists group and a popular local lecturer on culinary herbs and herbs for health, raised bed gardening, and horticulture therapy.