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9 Free Holiday Decorations Ideas

Moving away from plastic holiday decorations that simulate what you can find naturally in your own backyard is also a great way to make a positive impact on the environment.

Here are 5 big reasons to switch to natural holiday decorations:

  1. It’s FREE if you grow trees and plants you like to use in your holiday decor. For those living on a budget especially during the holidays, this is a great way to cut costs. If you don’t have the room in your yard but your neighbor has these plants growing in their yard…well bake them a pie or a dish in exchange for some cuttings of their plants. It’s an opportunity to create goodwill among our neighbors.
  2. Less carbon footprint and no unnecessary waste for landfills. You can compost your decorations when the holiday is over.
  3. Less chemicals in your home especially when it’s cold and you’re less likely to open windows.
  4. You can enjoy a natural pine smell in your home.
  5. While plastic decorations fall apart and fade over time, your natural decorations will be beautiful every year.

Whether you decorate with pine cones, ever greens and holly; cultivating what you use in your own garden can provide you with holiday decorations for many years. And when the holiday is over, you can compost these decorations.

Just make sure your tools are cleaned and sanitized before you start trimming.

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Did you know that a Weeping Norway Spruce can live up to 300-4000 years?

Weeping Norway Spruce is a good source of greens

This is the first Weeping Norway Spruce I’ve grown in my garden. It’s about 15 feet and that’s about the maximum size they get. They grow 1-2 feet per year. It makes a nice accent plant for structure and stays green year round. If you’re planting it near your house, give at least 15 feet from the house. Use the greens for wreath making and accent cuttings. Click here for a growing guide on a Weeping Norway Spruce.

The pine cones from the Weeping Norway Spruce can be 5 inches long.

Pine cones give lots of options for crafting holiday decorations

The possibilities are endless in crafts that include pine cones. What a fun way to encourage your kids to be outside in colder weather to forage for pine cones. You can use them to create birdseed feeders for the birds. A lot of people use pine cones that are already opened wide for this project but I feel like smooth, longer pine cones like this one from my Weeping Norway Spruce makes it easy to spread peanut butter on it and roll it in bird seed. For more ideas to plant natural bird seed perennials, click here.

Pinterest is probably the best place to find pine cone holiday decoration crafts. Click here to get started.

Did you know that the Arborvitae was the first tree from North America brought to Paris by French explorers?

Decorate your Arborvitaes or use the soft flat leaves to make crafts

If you have small Arborvitaes you recently planted, you can create adorable holiday garden gnomes. Check out this Youtube video that shows you step by step. For the larger Arborvitae, the leaves make gorgeous wreaths and evergreen sprays. You can trim the inner branches as they are growing into each other so you don’t create unsightly holes in your Arborvitae.

Arborvitae are really common in many gardens and easy to grow. They really love full sun and people often use them to create a natural fence. They grow quite tall about 40-60 feet. Arborvitae are low maintenance and hardy trees which makes them ideal for busy homeowners. Be mindful of pets because Arborvitae eaten in large quantities can make them sick.

Winterberry Holly is native to North America.

The red berries of Winterberry brightens any decor

Winterberry is a beautiful shrub that will need 6-8 hours of sun. My favorite way it’s displayed in gardens is when it’s planted in front of evergreen trees. That’s when the berries pop even while you’re driving by. The evergreen background gives it depth, otherwise, it looks a little scraggly. Winterberry can be used to accent green cuttings or woven into a wreath. It can thrive in wetter soil conditions and is a low maintenance plant. Click here for a growing guide. Be mindful of the berries as they are toxic to people and pets.

Did you know that holly bushes can live up to 100 years?

Holly Bushes glossy leaves make beautiful decorations

If you’re the crafty type that can make wreaths, holly lends itself as a material to make some unique looking wreaths that will stand out from the typical pine wreaths. Click here for a holly wreath tutorial. If you’re like me and not that crafty, then use holly leaves as accent cuttings for your holiday nativity scenes or other small holiday displays.

Plant holly bushes in full sun. They can tolerate part sun. My holly was planted by the previous homeowner in part sun. It grew to about 8 feet but doesn’t produce the berries. I had to cut it back to fit the space and used the cuttings for decoration. Make sure to wear gloves when handling holly.

Be careful because holly is toxic if ingested by pets and kids. If you choose to use it, make sure it’s out of reach.

Frasier Fir is popular for having a live Christmas tree due to their strong branches and longevity.

Frasier Fir has it all

If this Frasier Fir is too large, you can use the cuttings to make mini trees. Click here to find out how. Interested in planting a Frasier Fir in your garden, click here for growing instructions. Frasier Firs are our favorite Christmas tree to bring indoors. Their strong branches can hold heavier ornaments and they keep fresh longer than other trees we’ve had. I also use cuttings around my displays on my mantle.

Chestnut trees grow rapidly. Did you know that the oldest Chestnut tree is 4000 years old?

Sweet Chestnuts can be used as decorations and are edible

Don’t get Sweet Chestnuts mixed up with Horse Chestnuts which are poisonous. Click here to see the difference. This includes pets and people. Sweet Chestnuts can be eaten. Click here to find out how to roast them. They can begin to produce the nuts in 3-5 years. Click here to be inspired by crafts with Sweet Chestnuts. If you’d like to plant a Sweet Chestnut tree, click here for a growing guide.

Spruces are commonly made into paper but also used in airplanes and boats.

Green Spruce gives gorgeous color to holiday decorations

Green Spruces are slow growing trees. Spruces are that quintessential pyramid shape that range from a pale green to a dark vibrant green. The branches can be made into wreaths and swags. Click here for instructions to create swags. Green spruce branches will regrow as long as there are buds. Click here to evaluate the different types of spruce trees you can plant in your own yard.

Did you know that Juniper sap is rot resistant?

Juniper berries can be crafted into beads

Juniper berries are known to make Gin but dried berries can be strung together on a string to be used for jewelry or decoration around the holidays. You can also make a wreath and garland using Juniper branches. Check out this tutorial that mixes different greens to make a beautiful garland. Juniper is really easy to grow and it does grow quite big. I have 3 Junipers that actually self-seeded in my field and they are very low maintenance.

Did you know that White Pine can grow 100 feet? It’s the largest conifer in the Northeast.

White pines have soft needles that make crafting versatile

White pines are non-toxic and their fallen needles make great mulch for acid loving plants like Hydrangea. You can use the pine cones to make a wreath like this one. Use the soft needles to make this white pine wreath. If you plan on adding white pine(s) to your garden, make sure you have the room to accommodate them. Click here for a growing guide.

Summary

Using natural holiday decorations over plastic decorations have many positive impacts on the environment and your budget. You’ll have to consider the space you have and whether or not your garden can accommodate the size. Cultivating plants in which you can use cuttings as decorations is a strategic way to plan your garden. Just make sure to consider the safety of your pets and kids before planting anything. Don’t worry if you have a small space. You can always find these trees and plants in gardens of friends and family. Click on the links to find tutorials to make wreaths and swags. If you’ve never made a wreath, challenge your inner crafter. Make it a family tradition. Do it with your kids to create new values around the holidays. Enjoy the blessings from your garden and create high vibes.