Potted Christmas Tree and Popcorn Garland by Herban Lifestyle
There are lots of ideas to help reduce some of the holiday waste and turn scraps into works of fabulousness. With just a few days left before Christmas, try these eco-friendly ideas to add to your holiday cheer and to decorate for the Christmas holiday, courtesy of EcoBites.
Deck the halls with real holly, drawing on an old age adage of having a natural Eco-Christmas. Instead of spending money on artificial Christmas decorations that won’t bio-degrade, let nature decorate your home this Christmas. Christmas decorations can be made from organic, recycled and scrap materials.Try organic popcorn, dough, cinnamon sticks, bows, gingerbread, holly, seasonal berries, organic fruit and vegetables, ivy and evergreen branches, pine cones, gum nuts, painted eggshells and even dried Indian corn.
After Christmas, store decorations for next year and put the branches in the com-poster.Have arrangements of greenery from the garden and organic seasonal fruit, with bright red apples amongst the greenery. Using garden trimmings as decorations costs nothing and you have to prune them anyway. Hang greenery, twist into wreaths or garlands or make table arrangements, add bright fruit.Apples, oranges and other fruit can last for 2-3 weeks in decorations and can be eaten or used for cooking a pie or for juicing. In our home they are eaten and we replace daily.Leave some greenery for last minute changes or replacements that will wilt, or as extra Christmas decorations closer to Christmas or for the Christmas table.
Decorate the outdoor trees and bushes in your yard with homemade decor that will survive a few weeks of weather. An environmentally friendly Christmas need not be the traditional red and green. Let nature be the inspiration for your own unique, individual style.
If you require a real tree, purchase from a small-scale sustainable grower and choose a organic tree with roots so it can be replanted. If replanting isn’t a option, most local councils run Christmas tree recycling schemes.
Wrap the potted roots with hessian and then start decorating with natural elements to create an Eco sustainable Christmas decoration that is not only fun, but inexpensive to create.
Native Tree Twigs and Branches
Another alternative is to use a native tree or found dead twigs that you can decorate – a few branches gold burnished or splatted with white paint, decorated with bows, painted eggs, star cut-outs, wax dipped pine cones, home-made baubles, ginger bread decorations, etc. Use your imagination and create a Christmas tree that is unique. Hang colorful paper chains, popcorn and cranberry strings on your tree for a traditional touch, or lines of beads and buttons instead of tinsel.
Christmas Tree Ornaments
Use eggs, stars, moons, suns and other shapes. Draw a simple shape, or cut a shape from a magazine or old recycled card and use this as a silhouette to trace around. Cut the shape out of cardboard and paint with Eco-friendly paint or cover with foil or re-use gift wrap. Shapes can include: suns, moons, stars, hearts, snowmen, angels, Santa’s, candles, bells, bauble shapes, gingerbread house, animal shapes, teddy bears, birds, candy canes, etc. Cut angels, peace doves or snowflakes out of scrap white paper (e.g. envelopes).
Christmas Tree Baubles
Use an old tennis ball. Wrap it in colorful twine. Add some holly and you have a beautiful bauble that is completely unique to you. You can also fashion your own baubles out of foam balls and odd scraps of material or cord. Old sheet music is too lovely to throw out, so use it to give new life to an old bauble instead! Cut or tear a strip of sheet music long enough to wrap around the bauble. Water down a good dollop fo PVA glue in a saucer and then paint liberally over the strip until it is saturated. Wrap it around the bauble, folding in pleats at the top and bottom. Dry and hang using a length of coordinating ribbon.
Use eggs. Have hard boiled organic eggs for breakfast. Neatly slice off the top either close to the top or half way, depending upon your design. Do not crack the eggshells. Clean out the egg shells of all remnant egg and very carefully wash the shells in soapy water. Allow them to dry. Once the egg is dry stick the shell together with a strip of tape (such as, masking tape – the tape needs to be able to be painted over).
Alternatively, pierce an uncooked egg at the top and bottom to remove the contents (use this for cooking) and rinse the shell in soapy hot water to clean it. Then either paint the egg with Eco-friendly craft paint or glue on pictures, etc (this will also help harden the eggshell). Thread wire from the bottom to the top of the egg, leaving 4cm at both ends. At the bottom tie the wire through a bead to anchor it and cut off any extra wire. At the top thread the wire through a bead, tie it, and then make a loop of the wire. Add decorations if desired, using paint or crayons, or even sequins or beads, etc. (if you want long lasting, heirloom eggs, check out “Faberge”eggs, and make versions for yourself!) To store eggs use an egg carton.
For unique, small eggs use quail eggs.
Make a pomander ball, which is a simply a piece of fruit that has been pierced by cloves and dried so that it lets off a wonderful aroma. Pomander balls look great hanging on the tree or around the house.
Grandma Novelty Decorations – Bring on the Bling!
Look in old sewing boxes to find cotton spools. Wrap them in tartan ribbon or recycled colourful paper. Thread together as indicated in the photo to make stunning, yet simple Christmas.
An alternative is to find old costume jewelry. Decorate, paint or insert Christmas images from recycled paper. Old gift cards and wrapping paper can be turned into tree adornments with some clever cutting and string. Take an old foam or straw wreath base, cover with thick satin ribbon or cut-up fabric from old clothing, then pin on loads of old costume jewelry – try raiding your local op shops. Use pearl-headed pins to attach necklaces and earrings, fasten brooches with their pins. Finish it off with a hanger and bow made with more ribbon and adorned with drop earrings.
Make origami decorations out of scrap paper, either white or coloured. Note: if this sounds difficult, just stick to only making one shape (such as birds), and have a tree full of them â€“ either in the same colour or in different colours. There are many craft books on origami available, including at the local libraries, so just choose a simple design and make it out of the paper you have collected.
Make bows out of old material, ribbon, anything. Do you have an old formal dress or shiny shirt that would make lovely bows? (Even a petticoat, or old curtains?) Otherwise check the remnant tables at fabric shops, including those that make formal outfits or wedding dresses – sometimes there are some intricate or spectacular pieces of fabric left over when a roll of material is sold also check charity and thrift shops.
Keep a sturdy shoe box for ribbons and bows – it is such a shame to throw such pretty garnishes away, especially when you can use them for any celebrations.
There are many ways to enhance the celebratory vibe around your home – with a little imagination. Tie lashings of ribbon to the backs of dining chairs, stair rails, candles or plants. Imagine a big shiny bow on the back of each chair – simply stunning!
Take the pictures down from your walls, wrap them up like a gift and put them back. It then looks like you have presents dancing merrily across the interior of your home.Wrap the front door with wide ribbon, to look like a gift.
Make stockings out of spare material or your old and wearing out clothes. An old top can have a new life as a Christmas stocking, as can old cushion covers – or any old scraps of material. (Material can be painted if it’s the wrong colour). Sew the stockings with bright, thick cotton or wool (e.g. from an old jumper). To decorate the stocking cut out a shape or design from material and sew or staple it to the stocking.
Add buttons, scraps of material or ribbon, etc, to make a design. Cut a Christmas tree shape from green material and put sequins or coloured small buttons on it for baubles; or some green material and two red buttons can become holly. Or a square of material with ribbons and a bow is a gift.
Red and green stockings; patchwork stockings made from scraps of material (including made from scraps of rich material such as velvet or silk, etc); lace painted gold and put on a white or any other coloured stocking; plain white stockings sewn around the edges with thick red wool from an old jumper, etc, and with a simple decoration added to the front (even a picture from a card). Hessian / jute looks great decorated. Get ideas from the shops â€“ and you can always paint the material to suit. Material, including scraps, can become Christmas stockings or Christmas bonbons / crackers.
Popsicle sticks, glue, jigsaw puzzle pieces, child’s picture, light weight cardboard, ribbon Glue Popsicle sticks together to form a triangle. Glue the puzzle pieces onto the triangle to make a frame. Glue the picture behind the frame, and then glue the cardboard behind the picture. Add a ribbon for hanging.
Use green non-toxic Eco friendly paint to colour seven pieces of paper towel or toilet paper tubes. When the paint is dry, thread a pipe cleaner through all the tubes and twist to secure them together. Cut out a red bow and glue it to the wreath. Thread a piece of red ribbon through the tube on top and tie to make the hanger for the decoration or wreath.
Pine Cone Decoration
Gather pine cones (they don’t have to be large). Dip in melted candle wax – preferably use soy based wax, beeswax or natural-based candles / recycle the children’s beeswax crayons – melt in oven. Cones can also be painted by hand by using a gold burnish or splatter them with white paint to create a frosted appearance.
When the cones are dry, tie a beautiful ribbon around the top (ones that still have a bit of stem attached at the top work best), and you have a very unique decoration. Keep some without ribbon for table decorations. Hang pinecones from pretty ribbons rather than the traditional wreath.
Candy Cane Decoration
Using beads thread onto a pipe-cleaner. Use two red beads then two white beads.Thread the beads so they nest together.When you like the length bend the pipe-cleaner to hold and cut. Bend the length to make a candy cane shape that will hang on the tree.
Here’s a twist on a traditional Christmas trim. Instead of stringing popcorn on string for your tree. String it onto medium-gauge wire and bend the wire into shapes such as bells, hearts, or stars. Add a ribbon to the top!
Pipe Cleaner Decoration
You need pipe cleaners and even beads. Take the colourful pipe cleaners and create shapes to wrap around the Christmas tree or to hang from branches. Ideas are only limited by your imagination. Combine with beads – use thread and make stars, diamonds, angels, etc.
Paper Tree Decoration
Cut out 4 triangle tree shapes. Fold each one in middle. Glue together. Add sequins or holes punched from coloured paper for decorations. Cut out circles or heart or shapes and do the same as the tree for different decorations.
Pre Cut bear shape from any old cardboard – cereal boxes, cards etc. Make hole punches all around and allow the children to sew in and out of the holes with ribbon. Glue a pocket on the front of their bear and add a message in the pocket. One big bear hug. Just for you. Merry Christmas Love _______”. We added a ribbon string for hanging. Also used old Christmas wrap cut into heart shapes to decorate the pocket etc.
This will delight children, and give you unique heirloom decorations. Decorate the tree with gingerbread decorations made from cardboard. Add individual touches to the tree using gingerbread designs of your favourite items. E.g. gingerbread footballs, golf balls, tennis balls and tennis rackets, a bird, cat or dog, etc – you name it – what is their favourite toy/game.
Turn it into gingerbread decorations. Cut the shapes out of cardboard and paint with thick paint so they look like gingerbread. Have gingerbread Santa’s, stockings, snowmen, birds, etc. Have a gingerbread Christmas Tree on the table or mantelpiece. However, children may want to eat the cardboard decorations, so also provide some cooked gingerbread baubles that can be pulled out when guests arrive or on Christmas day.
Cinnamon and Salt Dough
Keep the designs simple and not too thick, so they won’t dry out – they can be painted and varnished with Eco-friendly varnish or linseed.
2 cups plain flour
1 cup salt
1 cup water
Mix the dry ingredients then slowly add the water until you have a firm dough. Knead for 5 – 10 minutes. Bake decorations 165C (325F) depending on the thickness, can take up to 90 minutes.
Roll out the salt dough and cut gingerbread men in all different sizes, bake slowly to dry out- if kept dry they last indefinitely. As they are quite light in colour, tint with a mix of PVA glue and Raw Sienna acrylic paint. You can sprinkle with aromatic spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg. You can make squiggly lines with paint and glue bow ties. Cut holes in the raw dough to thread cord or cotton through for hangers, or glue these to the back when hardened.
1 1/2 cups ground cinnamon or mixed spice
1 cup apple sauce
1/2 cup glue
Mix all the ingredients until a firm dough. Knead for 5 minutes, cover with wrap, stand for 30 minutes. Roll and make shapes with Christmas cookie cutters. Put on a cooling rack covered with gauze and let dry, turning occasionally.
Cinnamon Stick Bunches
4 cinnamon sticks per bunch
A few small pine twigs
Small (unbreakable) Fair-trade / recycled Christmas decoration
Bundle the cinnamon sticks in the centre with the twigs and decoration.
Wind wire around to secure.
Tie a bow of red ribbon around the bunch.
Hang on tree or great for place settings or a few for a table centerpiece.
Cinnamon Sticks – tie with fabric and place in your displays.
Hang gingerbread people, cinnamon sticks, cranberries and candy canes on the tree or bake some simple biscuit dough to create star- and tree-shaped cookie ornaments, add some icing and then hang on the tree with ribbon.
Cook popcorn and thread it with a needle and some colored cotton in long strands and use it to decorate the Christmas tree as a great alternative to tinsel.
The Christmas Table
A table that is beautifully set out gives a meal shared with family and friends such elegance. A table-runner down the centre, displays decorations and candles handsomely. Add a country-Christmas air with a plaid design and bowls of organic seasonal fruit and nuts. Enhance the setting with sprigs of pine or evergreen from the garden, colourful balls in red and silver, and lighted candles.
Centerpieces are best kept low, so as not to obscure your guests’ view of each other across the table. A bowl of red organic roses in the centre for a splash of colour and rose petals scattered on each place setting,is simple to do, and gives a sweet scented aroma.
Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residues so neither do your health or the environment any good. Soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based candles are better because they biodegrade, are smoke-free, and so more Eco-friendly. Grab all your clean jam jars and turn them into stunning luminaries. Put coloured old marbles or stones and a candle in the centre, then lash satin ribbon around the top for a festive glow! Dinner by candlelight makes the meal magical. Candles, fresh flowers, ribbon, greenery, organic fruit and vegetables, heartfelt written messages, decorations made with love, are the perfect ingredients for your Eco – Christmas celebration!
Choosing a theme can simplify the decorating process as it gives you a focal point to concentrate on and get ideas from.
Deck the halls, tables, your home with boughs of greenery from the garden or from your nature walks with your children, add bright red organic apples and the occasional non-paraffin candle. Dot the Christmas tree with red and white decorations. Hang Christmas stockings, and add bows or other decorations to the tree if desired.
For something different as a centrepiece make a “Christmas tree” pyramid of red apples. Dot this with green leaves or use red and green organic apples.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
Make stars from wool felt, cardboard covered with foil or painted with silver or gold or even match-sticks and raffia. Have silver stars and gold stars. Or try blue and gold. Have big and small ones so it looks like the tree is covered with a constellation of stars.
Hang stars from the windows at different levels, and using different size stars. For decorations also use candles, or candles and a few stars with soft greenery.
Try different colour and texture combinations, such as having a variety of golds with textures, or those with ruby, deep blue and green finishes, or stars with a bit of a pastel tone. Another idea is to cut out the centre of the stars so that they are only silhouettes. Have them in gold, cream, silver, or any other colour schemes. These will look more delicate on your tree.
On the tree hang cardboard stars and suns, eggs or bows painted gold, bronze, or copper. Put one or two with garlands of greenery and arrangements of greenery, pears, apricots and other gold fruit on the table, or around candles. Hang stockings and for trim on the stockings use scraps of lace, painted gold trim if desired.
Paint old sandpaper or textured cardboard for textured stars. Even torn and damaged cardboard creates an interesting textured effect when painted.
Inspiration From Nature
Have lemons or oranges or peaches (what ever is on your tree or at the farmers’ market) with tropical flowers frangipani / hibiscus and bright greenery. If you have broad leaved plants use large leaves as the base for table decorations.
Red bottle brush flowers make a wonderful addition for the Southern Hemisphere Christmas decorations. Decorate with fruit, nuts and pine cones. Or just nuts, candles and pine cones with the occasional gold leaf or gold foil covered nut or candle wax dipped pine cone as a highlight. Paint a branch gold and add nuts and pine cones. Tie smaller pine cones on the tree with wide gold ribbons.
Use cherries, plums, purple grapes and peaches in arrangements with gold trim. For the tree use rich red, blue and gold painted eggs, perhaps decorated with gold and silver crayons or sequins. For a truly rich effect put table arrangements on some draped cloth such as velvet or silk, check the thrift shop for scarves, old formal dresses and shirts etc.
Include your old kitchen utensil collection in the decor with mixing bowls. colanders, scales, sifters as part of the theme. Embellish the display with ribbons, green garlands and berries, along with rusty bells and other kitchen tools like wood rolling pins and spoons. Fill with gingerbread figures and fabric bows to complete the look. Silver with pale blue or aqua or silver with metallic lime green and aqua. Purple and gold, or burgundy with gold. Tie organic fair-trade chocolates in their foil onto a small branch as a decoration. Leave the branch as it is or paint it white, gold or silver.
Cut potato shapes with Christmas cookie cutters and paint sheets (white sheets from thrift shops) using organic beetroot juice, the occasional child beetroot dipped hand print is Lot’s of Christmas fun! Great for your Christmas tablecloth, make matching cloth napkins and trim with coloured ribbon.
Keep it simple – check out thrift shops / garage / yard sales for fabric (curtains, sheets etc) we found some beautiful gold curtains, cut the gold curtain for a Christmas table runner and made napkins with the curtain lining, made napkin rings from toilet roll holders and newspaper, placed a gold pine cone in each recycled wine glass with a table centre decoration of gum nuts, pine cones, gold ribbon and fresh flowers with lychee’s and cherries scattered throughout.
A few willow branches for the Christmas tree decorated with gold and red bows, baubles and LED fairy lights, don’t forget to turn off fairy lights! Bowls of gum nuts and pine cones, fresh flowers, candles and fruit scattered throughout our home, a big ribbon going horizontal and vertical on the front door to look like a parcel wrapped, and a wreath made from twigs in the garden and dried apples, big hessian bows with raffia and ribbons tied on our trees and bushes in the yard, with solar rope Christmas lights.
Have a happy Eco Christmas!
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