A Pet-Safe Mistletoe Craft

Today I’m writing about Mistletoe, the legendary plant of love and friendship. As it is toxic to animals and small children, I’m going with a safe felted alternative for decoration.

Mistletoe is the name for a range of hemiparasitic, toxic plants that live off host trees in a variety of climates around the world. The one we know best is the European Mistletoe, an evergreen with paired leaves and white, waxy berries in clusters of two to six.

A tree infected with Mistletoe

There are many uses to Mistletoe, and more being studied medically, including cancer treatment, arthritis, high blood pressure, epilepsy and infertility. It is used in folk medicine as a sedative, to lower blood pressure, help heal broken bones, and reduce tumors. Caution must be advised for any internal usage of this toxic plant, and a doctor should be kept aware of your consumption.

From a mythical point of view, the plant has been important for thousands of years, usually as a male fertility symbol. The Celts referred to the berries as the semen of Taranis, the god of thunder, while the Greeks called them “oak sperm.” During Saturnalia, the Romans hung Mistletoe indoors as a symbol of peace and love.

In Medieval times, Mistletoe continued to seen as a sign of fertility and love, while simultaneously a deterrent against witchcraft and unwanted spirits. The custom of kissing under the mistletoe was in full force, though it may have been started by the Romans, or even as far as the Druids.

The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe was continued into the Victorian era by the serving class, who made the rules that a man could kiss any woman standing under mistletoe, and that it would be bad luck for her to refuse it. Every time a kiss was granted, a berry would be plucked, and once the berries were gone, no more kisses could be stolen by it.

Magically, the uses of Mistletoe are myriad. Keeping a bit of Mistletoe on you is an excellent bringer of good luck and fortune, and protection against evil. It drives away negative forces and attracts positive ones. In love spells, it draws potential love to you. It can break hexes. Mistletoe is also associated with spiritual development.

A Pet Safe Craft: Felt Mistletoe

You will need:

  • One or two shades of green felt. I used wool felt mostly because they came in the colors I liked. If you are only making one bundle, then a few of those precut ~8.5×11″ sheets will be fine.
  • Small white pom poms (I used half inch)
  • Thin red ribbon
  • Fabric glue (I ended up using Gorilla Glue, an overkill, because I couldn’t find my fabric glue)
  • Fabric scissors
Enough branches for 3 bundles

I freehand cut the branches with paired leaves. I did it in three sizes: one long 4-pair branch, one shorter 4-pair branch, and one short 3-pair branch. I didn’t bother with a stencil because I thought the variation made it more natural. Don’t be too thin on the stems or where the leaves come together!

Once they are cut, you will gently and slowly pull at the felt to stretch the stems and give the leaves a slight cupped curve.

Put the three branches together by their top stems and glue the tips, with a loop of ribbon on the bottom. Let dry completely.

Once it is dry, you may tie the ribbon as you like and maybe add a dot of glue to keep it tied.

Once the ribbon and bow is dry, now you can start fussing with the leaves to twist and tangle them to give them a naturally fluffed appearance, with the leaves draping down. Get a sense of how you want it to look after the berries are attached. Hold it up often to see how it hangs.

I did the berries in two parts, so that they could dry before I flipped it over to do the other side. Mistletoe berries come in clusters of 2-6, along the stem. You can use the positioning of the berries to help fluff up the leaves or keep a tangle in place. And if you need, a drop of glue here and there also helps keep things looking good

There you go! You can make quite a few of these assembly-line style and they make nice early season gifts.

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