Super Search
Instructions at

Like most everything else today, it seems like most Christmas tree ornaments are made from plastic and other synthetic materials. But that wasn’t always so.

The first ornaments on holiday trees reflected the “ornaments” hanging on natural trees during the season: fruits, nuts, and cones. To continue this tradition:

  • Tie small red and green apples to the tree with colored ribbons
  • string fresh cranberries and popcorn
  • glue gold tie to nuts and hang them
  • hang dried apple rings and cinnamon sticks for fragrance.

Cookies are a popular tree decoration. Gingerbread cookies add a wonderful fragrance to the natural scent of the tree. If you wish to make inedible “cookies” that you can reuse year to year, try this recipe:

Reusable “Cookie” Ornaments

1 cup salt
2 cups flour
1 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Spices or powdered pigments can be added to color the dough

Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add water and oil and stir until blended. Knead with your hands to make a smooth texture. Roll dough out on a cutting board to desired thickness (thick enough so they won’t break easily) and cut with cookie cutters or a knife. Use a straw to make a hole at the top for threading a ribbon. Bake at 250 degrees until hard (1-2 hours).


When cookies are cool, decorate with water-based paints. Put a ribbon through the hole, and hang on the tree.

Eggshells can also be made into ornaments.

  1. Poke a hole into each end of an egg with a sterilized sewing needle.
  2. Over a bowl, blow into the hole the top of the egg (the small end) so that the insides come out through the bottom hole. Save the egg insides for cooking. Paint eggs with water-based paints.
  3. Bend a pipe cleaner and stick it in the top of hole of the egg. Bend the other end and hang it on the tree.

California buckeye

You can also decorate your tree with whatever is growing naturally in your area. Here in Northern California, buckeye trees lose their leaves during the fall, leaving branches hung with “buckeye balls” that are just the size of tree ornaments. We also have a native shrub called coyote bush that produces a small white flower in December that makes it look like it is covered with snow. Branches of coyote bush placed between tree branches makes holiday tree look like it just came in from a frosty forest, without the fake snow flocking.

Coyote bush

Check your own garden and community for cones, berries, dried seed pods, twigs, and feathers. After the holidays, they can go in the compost.

Save holiday wrapping paper, greeting cards, and other interesting papers and pictures (including pages from magazines) throughout the year. Designate a box for collecting them instead of throwing them in the trash, then use them to make colorful and interesting paper ornaments:

  • Origami and other paper craft books will have many good ideas and instructions.
  • Make paper chains by making a loop with a strip of paper, then staple it shut and make another loop by sliding the strip of paper through the first loop.
  • Cut paper ‘snowflakes’ from used office paper
  • Images from old holiday cards or cut from magazines can be trimmed and tied to the tree with a ribbon (magazine images will need to be glued to a 3×5 card or scrap cardboard for stiffness).

Throughout the year, look for ornament possibilities at flea markets and garage sales. Keep your eyes open for ornaments for sale and any small items that would make interesting ornaments. Look for materials that could be modified in some way to make ornaments.

Add Comment


Toxic Products Don’t Always Have Warning Labels. Find Out About 3 Hidden Toxic Products That You Can Remove From Your Home Right Now.