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natural christmas decor rosehip and hawthorne wreath

By using natural material for your holiday decorations, you buy less, store less, and waste less. Here are some ideas to get started.

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If you are tired of the glitz, glam, and glitter of holiday decorations, consider using natural materials for a subdued look and feel. No matter how many ornaments or garlands we have, we run to the store for more every year. This accumulates over the years, and holiday decorations become a storage and organizational problem in the long run.

Make a family day of gathering materials to decorate your home. In the wild, collect pine boughs and sprigs, dry branches and grasses, pinecones, seedpods, and berries. At the supermarket, buy fruit and unshelled nuts – red and green apples, oranges, cranberries, pomegranates, walnuts, chestnuts, almonds, and pecans. You can tie your creations together with jute or raffia twine, and use burlap and muslin fabrics to further the natural theme.

Used in tandem with decorative items you already have, your natural, non-glitzy decorations will send as much holiday joy as store bought. Homemade items also hold more meaning.

8 natural holiday decorating ideas

Many of these ideas listed need no storage. Compost them, eat them, or put them in the brush pile. Some can be used for year-round décor with a change of ribbon or ornamentation. If you want to cut back on your stuff, think double duty for everything in your house.

1. Sprigs of greens inside glass vases combine a little shine (not glitz!) and a little nature. Group five or seven together for impact and a festive spread on a mantle.

2. A wreath of wood slices can be a year-round door or wall decoration. Dig into your existing supplies for festive, seasonal additions. Different types and diameters of wood create visual interest.

3. Fashion dried red flowers, such as cockscomb celosia, into a wreath. Add a green, gold, silver, or red ribbon for the holidays. Cockscomb is easy to grow and dry yourself, too! In January, remove the ribbons, and let the flowers shine on their own all year.

4. Make lined burlap stockings and fill them to overflowing with greens. Or you can actually fill them with stocking stuffers!

5. I love the simplicity and colors of these ornaments – dried citrus topped with a cinnamon stick and acorn. Citrus slices also make beautiful and fragrant garlands mixed with cranberries.

6. Cut short lengths of birch branches to turn into candleholders. Use a variety of sizes to create visual interest. Look for other woods with textured bark, too.

7. Pinecones decorated with cranberries, sprigs of pine, and a slice of star fruit can be used at place settings or grouped as a centerpiece. If you are really cramped for space, you can use it as a tree. When I had a tiny apartment, I made a tree of a few evergreen sprigs in a wine carafe with a red ribbon wrapped around it.

8. Cranberries and pine sprigs can also be placed in mason jars alternated with a candle in a mason jar for a beautiful and festive tabletop setting. Use sugar or salt in the bottom of the jars as ‘snow’.

The Three Rs of natural decorations

Like I said, your supplies for these decorations do not need to be stored. Practice the Three Rs over the holidays.

The first R is reduce. Using natural materials cuts your consumption, which saves you money and storage space.

The second R is reuse. Use your holiday decorations year-round by tweaking small details. Or use your everyday things as decorations by adding a small festive accent.

The third R is recycle. Put plant matter in the compost or brush pile, and eat the food you have purchased.

Enjoy a low impact holiday using nature as your inspiration!

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Nan Fischer

Nan Fischer has been living and building green for over 35 years. Nan’s emphasis on the BuildDirect blog is about how to make your dollar stretch further, while also moving toward a more sustainable lifestyle, as well as upcoming and existing technology to help us live in an ecologically-friendly way. Nan also authors posts on the website of her seed business, sweetly seeds.