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Green Christmas Décor: Homemade Decorations

Updated on January 26, 2013

A green Christmas with homemade decorations lets you go green and reduce waste. Making your own holiday tree trimmings, door decorations, garlands, wreaths and centerpieces creates a festive holiday atmosphere -- and saves money.

Best of all, creating your own Christmas decorations out of materials that are safe for the environment puts the focus on the joy of making things by hand with creativity and love -- instead of the potentially stressful experience of shopping for decorations that have short lives, create pollution during manufacturing, and all too often end up as waste in landfills. Try a few new Christmas decorating ideas to simplify your holiday and have fun with going green.

Making decorations with loved ones or to give to others creates loving and happy holiday memories -- and results in treasures to brighten your Christmas and share with people you love. Spend time at home decorating with natural materials to create a warmer, closer experience. This is an easy way to make your holidays more relaxing and cheerful.

A Homemade Christmas Tree

Homemade Christmas Tree by BrockVicky Garden twigs and reusable ornaments create an updated blue Christmas tree
Homemade Christmas Tree by BrockVicky Garden twigs and reusable ornaments create an updated blue Christmas tree | Source

Homemade Green Christmas Ideas

Make your own Christmas decorations using live plants, re-useable and recycled materials, evergreen and berry trimmings from your yard or unexpected elements such as fruits and vegetables to enliven your holiday decorating with personalized touches.

Creating a cozy Christmas that's easy on the environment can still have flash and polish. Whether you want a rustic Christmas decorated with burlap and evergreen boughs, a kid-friendly Christmas with handmade paper chains, re-used toys hung from ribbons and strung popcorn, or a cutting-edge eco-friendly Christmas featuring bamboo and other sustainable materials, explore ideas to inspire a green, budget-friendly decorating scheme for your Christmas.

Live Christmas Trees and Other Live Plants

Live Christmas trees and pointsettias give your home an effortless holiday décor scheme. These classics scream Christmas and you can combine them in many ways to enhance your home.

Miniature potted Christmas trees create a dynamic centerpiece for the diningroom table, sideboard or a buffet table. They create a bright Christmas greeting in the entryway and add the Christmas spirit to a coffee table. Decorate them with wire-wrapped gemstones, hand-tied bows made from cloth ribbon that matches your decorating scheme or miniature toys.

Toys, such as miniature teddy bears, dolls and action figures add an upbeat and whimsical mood to holiday decorating. Reusing toys as Christmas decorations gives them new life. It's easy to tie them gently into a live tree with ribbon or stand them in the branches. Everyone in the household can add their favorite toys to the décor, or you can create a theme with one type of toy, such as all bears, all musicians or all glow-in-the-dark aliens.

Other live plants such as palm or weeping fig trees can add to the holiday spirit with a few Christmas decorations making them into honorary Christmas trees for the season. Wire ornament hooks onto small toys and hang them on a weeping fig for an instant festive touch in the foyer. Decorate a matched pair of palm trees with small action figures or Nutcracker ornaments for a new twist on Christmas trees.

Live Plant Christmas Decorating

by bobosh_t
by bobosh_t | Source

Reuseable Materials for Making Green Christmas Decorations

Cloth ribbon: Fabric stores carry ribbon in a range of widths and fabric. Velvet ribbon offers a lush texture for rich-looking wreaths, Christmas tree bows and garlands. Satin ribbon creates shine and grosgrain ribbon adds a country, homey touch. Best of all, you can save the bows and reuse them next year. Keeping them in a box prevents crushing, so they'll be ready to attach to new decorations next year. Red bows can be reused for Valentine's day, anniversary or for any party that includes red.

Burlap and felt: These versatile materials don't require hemming, so they're handy for no-sew decorating projects.

Live plants: A living tree offers a beautiful focal point to your home for the holidays. A small one can live in a pot outdoors and be reused and a Christmas tree for a few years. Live poinsettias make richly textured holiday displays and come in cream and pink in addition to a deep red.

Wire: Bendable wire such as floral wire holds together Christmas decorations made of natural materials such as wreaths, door swags and garlands.

Wreath Forms: Wreath forms, such as circles of grapevines woven together or flexible sapling branches, provide a reusable base for creating Christmas wreaths. After the holidays, remove the dead boughs and keep the form to use next Christmas. This trick makes beautiful wreaths and saves on waste from disposable wreath forms.

Making Christmas Wreaths, Door Swags and Garlands

A Christmas wreath, door swag or garland welcomes visitors to your home. These classic homemade Christmas decorations can also decorate a patio, deck or backyard.

Evergreen boughs, holly branches and other decorative berries, pinecones, fruit, bells and glass ornaments all offer options for green Christmas decorating. Whimsical touches such as teddy bears or toy snowmen add a fun element to Christmas wreaths for homes with kids, and kids can help with these projects, only requiring adult assistance with cutting the greenery.

For an updated look, creating a wreath from freshly cut bamboo and wrapping it with strips of natural fabric or sparkly ribbon offers a new twist for green Christmas decorating.

Wreath-Making Tips: Woven grape vines or any bendable thin branches from yard trimmings can work for wreath-making. Forming a wire hanger into a circle works well for a wreath form. Wire cut branches of pine or other evergreens to the wire form to create the wreath. Create wreath forms in different shapes for an eye-catching door decoration. For example, shape wire into a horseshoe to decorate your home with this classic good luck symbol and create a western themed Christmas, or bend the wire into a bulbous alien head and use lime green fabric to make an unexpected non-wreath green door decoration that you can reuse every year -- or transform every year.

Natural Christmas decorating safety tips: Cut greenery such as foliage and yard trimmings are flammable. Have a safe Christmas. Display cut evergreen decorations outdoors as door swags, door garlands, window garlands, mailbox decorations and planter decorations. Evergreen trimmings become highly flammable as they dry because of their volatile oils. They can dry very quickly indoors in the heat. It's safest to use these kinds of decorations outdoors and use live plants indoors. If you want to use freshly cut evergreens in a centerpiece, arrange them in a container with their cut ends in water. Remove them from the house after the meal.

Keep paper Christmas decorations away from any source of flame, such as candles, wood stoves, fireplaces, pilot lights and heaters.

Never leave candles burning unattended. Have a safe and merry Christmas!

Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Christmas Fruit Bowl Displays

The bright colors and sensuous shapes of fruits give them a natural advantage for adding a vivid decorative element to the living room. Fruit also offers a healthy holiday snack and symbolizes fertility, abundance and renewal -- wonderful things to contemplate during the winter. Pair fruit with nuts in the shell, including walnuts, Brazil nuts and almonds for more shapes, textures and flavors.

Display bowls of fruit such as pears, dark red apples, mandarin oranges and pomegranates on small tables and decorate each bowl with a big bow.

Repeating one simple element throughout a decorating scheme ties it together. For example, use matching wooden bowls and tie a big red satin ribbon around each one, finishing it with a huge double bow. Or add a touch of humor by perching a clean toy on the edge of each bowl, such as a cowboy, or -- you guessed it, a glow-in-the-dark alien.

Handmade Christmas Tree Decorations

US Capitol Christmas Tree, Alien Decoration by TheRoss
US Capitol Christmas Tree, Alien Decoration by TheRoss | Source

Author's Note: Green Christmas: Homemade Christmas Décor

Making things with my grandmother are my best holiday memories. Stringing popcorn and cranberries, decorating the tree with ornaments she'd had for years -- some of them came from her mother. The tradition of decorating the tree together and watching the lights formed the core of my childhood Christmas experience. Although there were sometimes new ornaments, my favorites were the ones we unpacked year after year, with all their memories, greeted each winter like old friends.

I learned to make wreaths and floral displays from a 4-H leader who was a nurseryman and florist. I grew up on a big old ranch with lots of trees and gardens, so there many kinds of natural materials to create things with.

After grad school and many entrepreneurial adventures, I worked in home furnishings and floristry -- jobs that gave me a wider range of ways to use my lifelong passion for color and spacial relationships and a background in art that set aside to focus on writing. As a fulltime freelancer, I enjoy combining my desire to protect this amazing planet, live green, share creative ideas for interior decorating, working with natural materials -- and lighten things up with aliens. Happy holiday of your choice!

Take a walk with your partner, kids, neighbors or a friend and find treasures to decorate with. Branches, rocks, pinecones and berries make creative decorations.

Thanks for reading. Please share this article if you liked it.

Trent Adams, AKA HikeGuy, California 2011, updated December 2012


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    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northern California Coast

      SanneL -- Thank you! I'm happy to hear that. With your creativity, I know you'll make wonderful things. I have a lot more fun making original Christmas decorations than going shopping.

    • SanneL profile image


      8 years ago from Sweden

      This hub is right up my alley!

      I have been recycling all my life, and I make my own unique Christmas decorations myself, using what I have on hand and my imagination. So much fun!

      I got so many great ideas from this hub, can't wait to try them out.

      Voted up and awesome!:)

    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Thanks. I grew up with a fairly "green" lifestyle. Using what you have, avoiding unnecessary waste and handcrafting are all valuable traditions that save money and create positive values for Christmas and life.

    • successfulblogger profile image


      8 years ago from Los Angeles,Ca

      Green is a big topic, nice hub.

    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Stephanie -- Thanks! I bet the kids and grandkids treasure their memories of making decorations with you! Many people are going through financial challenges, so I hope to encourage the idea of a green and homemade Christmas. Sharing time with people we care about and enjoying tying bows and making garlands doesn't cost much. Eating tangerines at Christmas was one of my favorite things.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 

      8 years ago from USA

      I love the idea of a "green" Christmas, and the tree made of twigs and blue ornaments is stunning! Many of the ideas you offer, like fruit bowls enhanced with bows are so practical while still lending a holiday touch. It all brings back memories of making homemade decorations on a budget and great times with kids and grandchildren.

    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Modern Greetings -- Thank you! Creating things together as a family offers a much richer experience than buying things. I don't think I have a single, positive and vivid memory of Christmas shopping when I was a kid -- many tense ones, in fact. The highlights of the holidays were being home together -- visits from relatives who lived far away, favorite homemade foods, decorating together -- those warm, shared experiences. Glad those traditions are alive in your family!

    • Modern Greetings profile image

      Modern Greetings 

      8 years ago

      Unique hub. My family and I are big into making our own ornaments and things like that, never tried an entire tree. Wonderfully written, thank you.

    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northern California Coast

      Habee -- I love your comment. For many creative people, homemade Christmas decorating is a tradition, not something trendy that you just now became interested in. My grandmother lived through the Depression, and was an artist. She made such inventive centerpieces, holiday-themed aprons, toys, mantel decorations... she continues to be a major influence in my life.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      8 years ago from Georgia

      Interesting hub! I enjoy making decorations from natural materials, too. I even did it before "green" was popular! lol. Voted up!

    • HikeGuy profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Northern California Coast

      FloraBreenRobison -- Thank you for your comment. Those are good points. Trees work as natural air filters, so it's good to save them. I hear you about some of the magnificent trees cut down for Christmas.

      I've never bought a cut tree. I used to buy the small live ones. Now I bring my grandmother's Christmas cactus indoors for the winter. It's been alive longer than I have and I brought it with me when I sold the ranch. It's the size and shape of a large Boston fern and brightens the whole place with fluorescent pink blooms. It becomes a focal point the same way as the poinsettia does in the photograph above.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image


      8 years ago

      I've never seen a homemade tree in person. We have to have fake trees in my building, and of course that saves cutting down trees. Some Christmas trees are grown to be Christmas trees specifically, but the ones that end up in time square I wish had been left alone they were so big and beautiful as trees.


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