Five Eco-Friendly and Biodegradable Holiday Decorations

foster warmth and togetherness by crafting as a family
Caption

Meagan Wilson/meaganrosewilson.com

For our family, getting into our "holiday cheer” means connecting with the values that we believe in during this magical season. We strive to create a home environment that provides both inner and outer warmth that will sustain us through the cold winter months. We can find physical warmth in the flames of a fireplace, a lit dinner candle, a nourishing meal or the warm woollen clothes we wear. Spiritual warmth can be found in giving and receiving love through touch, kind words, laughter and gift-giving. Spiritual warmth can also be found in offering service to others or in beholding beauty in the world around us. 

Psychotherapist Amy Morin described in an interview with ABC news, “When you’re putting up decorations, you’re thinking of happier times, times with family and friends and the family traditions you engaged in.” In other words, the decorating you do now with your children will serve them for their entire life as they return each year, with loving nostalgia, to this age-old tradition. 

In our family, we have slowly and consciously replaced plastic tinsel and disposable decorations with more sustainable options. Not only are biodegradable versions better for the environment, we also feel a sense of family togetherness in creating them. We stimulate the five senses,  respect our family budget, and build and develop fine motor skills. 

Craft together as a family

I recommend choosing one holiday decoration to make each year as a family and to build on this tradition over time. The holidays can be overwhelming for everyone. Although it’s tempting to want to make “all the things” at once, it’s much more attainable to set the intention and carve out the time to make one meaningful decoration together.

Many of the decorations I share below are inspired by ancient Yule traditions focusing on bringing “the Light” and warmth (both figuratively and literally) inside during the dark winter months. With this theme in mind, I offer these craft ideas to families from various faiths and spiritual backgrounds whether they celebrate a holiday at this time or another. These ideas have been passed down for many generations to families from all over the world. To be clear, these crafts are not originally mine. In sharing them, I would like to acknowledge that these ideas have been passed down through the generations from my loving ancestors. 

Dried Orange Ornaments

Dried Orange Ornaments

Ingredients and Supplies

  • Oranges
  • Sharp Knife
  • Thread, Ribbon or Baking String
  • Dehydrator

Directions

Simply slice oranges and dry the pieces in a dehydrator or an oven on the lowest setting. Once dried, children can puncture a small hole in the top part of the slice with a pencil and then thread with a simple baker's string or ribbon. When hung in windows, these can be beautiful suncatchers, add a warm ornamental glow to any tree, and are also an elegant addition to the top of any present wrapped in plain paper. 

Ruby Red Cranberry Garlands

Ingredients and Supplies

  • Fresh Cranberries
  • Cotton thread
  • Long, thin sewing needle

Directions

You can purchase fresh cranberries at most grocery stores at this time of year. Thread a long thin needle with thin cotton sewer’s thread and knot it at one end. The length of the thread and the number of cranberries you use are simply determined by the length you want the garland to be. These look beautiful strung above fireplaces, above windowsills and the kitchen sink or wrapped around evergreen trees indoors and outdoors. We often make garlands alternating dried oranges with fresh cranberries. 

Saltdough Ornaments

Saltdough

 

Saltdough Recipe

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon cream of tartar

To Make the Dough:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a pot on medium-high on the stove and stir continuously until it becomes so thick you can’t stir any more.
  2. Remove from heat, take it out, and knead until smooth as soon as it’s cool enough.

Directions

A childhood favourite, make a big batch of salt dough and have children cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Then take a straw or pencil and puncture a hole in the top of each ornament. Bake them at about 150C/300F for around an hour or until the ornaments are dry all the way through. Paint or decorate with glitter, or however you feel inspired! Then let dry and string them up. 

Apple Candleholders

ac

Ingredients and Supplies

  • 2 Red Apples
  • Sharp Knife
  • 2 beeswax pillar candles

Directions

Choose two crisp, bright red apples with minimal blemishes that stand up straight without leaning to one side when placed on the table. Carve a small hole into the top of each so that a tall beeswax pillar candle can stand in each hole and light for cosy dinner ambience. 

Pinecones dipped in beeswax

Beeswax Cones

Ingredients and Supplies

  • Baking Paper
  • Beeswax bar, pastilles or beads
  • Glass Bowl
  • Pot of boiling water
  • Ribbon or decorative bowl or basket 
  • Pinecones (the cones from Penderesa, Red, Scotch, Limber and Longleaf pines work best as the scales are generally more open)  

Directions

If you know where you can collect a local source of pinecones this decoration is both beautiful and sensorial. Because it involves dipping the pinecones in hot beeswax, it requires a great deal of adult supervision, but the results are stunning. Simply collect a basket full of pinecones and bring the cones home. Prepare a mess-free workspace by spreading out baking paper as a landing point for your waxy cones. Melt 1-2 oz of beeswax either in bar, pastille or bead form using the double boiler method. Dip the pinecones into the beeswax so that the tips of the scales are covered with wax, then place the finished cone on baking paper to dry. Repeat with each cone. You can place the cones in a shallow bowl or basket to create a sweet-smelling table centrepiece or tie a ribbon to their ends to hang throughout the house. 

Model Family Values

Our children learn the values associated with this time of year by looking to us as examples. They do not learn so much from words or explicit moral teachings as they do from watching those they love and adore model generosity of spirit and service for them. One way you can model this value is to offer some of your finished products to teachers, grandparents or family friends. I hope these crafts bring love and warmth to your homes and beyond. 

Show us your eco-friendly holiday decorations and crafts by tagging @ecoparent on social media!

You may also enjoy: Creating Eco-conscious Holiday TraditionsGifts Kids Can Make and DIY Handmade Hugs: Lavender Filled Pocket Charms.