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A Natural Christmas

I love Christmas decorations, I always have. The older I get, the more natural mine become.

I remember my parents getting the box down from the attic and all these amazing magical things being brought out. I used to be so excited, so overwhelmed.

There were shiny paper lanterns that opened up when you pulled them down. Streamers made from cleverly cut paper that opened into all sorts of wonderful shapes. Then there were the baubles. I loved the colours, the shapes and the strange pine cone textures… they were amazing.

When I was a little older I saved my pocket money so I could decorate my bedroom. I bought paper, balls, old decorations and remade them into my own. I even wired up my own lights using torch bulbs and my father’s soldering iron. It sounds very haphazard but I managed to find super creative ways of getting the effects I longed for, and it was magical.

I love the idea of creating something from the the things around us. The garden looks empty in winter, but even under the snow it’s full of moss, ivy and so much more.

There are literally millions of acorns and pine cones covering the forest floors... I generally try to gather these things in autumn when they’re more readily available. I’ve got walnuts that are too old to eat, pine cones from the tree in the garden, rose hips and seed heads… this year there were so many quinces so I’ve decided to also hang those on the Christmas tree too.

Last year with many of the shops closed due to Covid it was even more difficult to get stuff... but I did manage to find some gold and silver Christmas spray 😊 Frappis and I had loads of fun spraying acorns and pinecones.

I made some simple hanging decorations using pine cones as they are, some sprayed gold and silver, some left natural. I bleached a few until they went almost white which I’d read about and was excited to try, I also took some apart and stuck the scales onto balls using a glue gun. There’s so much you can do and it’s actually really fun.

The quinces are quite heavy but I’ve taken the smaller ones and bent a section of wire into a u shape and pushed it into the fruit forming a hook to which I attach some ribbon. The same thing could be done with small apples or anything else that won’t go off quickly.

One year I went into the woods a little late and found many of the pine cones had been eaten leaving just the core. I was initially disappointed but then collected these and used them all the same. It’s another shape to have on the tree.

I do like to put everything in the oven until they’re pretty hot which kills off any bugs, mold and bacteria which most people don’t want on their tree if they can help it. I used to think the cold alone would kill off any nasties and if the cats didn’t like it, bugs wouldn’t either… but that’s not the case.

A natural Christmas tree is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it costs very little and is great fun to do especially if you’re working with children. These experiences are moments you often remember for ever. And as far as the decorations are concerned, as long as you’re using dried pine cones or nuts, they’ll last for years.