Upcycling Pine Cones into Holiday Decor
The holiday season is a wonderful time to get creative with decorations and add some homemade touches to your home. One of the easiest ways to do this is by upcycling natural items like pine cones into beautiful accents and arrangements. Pine cones are free, abundant, and make great bases for holiday crafts. With a little imagination, simple materials, and some easy DIY techniques, you can transform pine cones into gorgeous wintery decorations to display throughout your home.
In this article, I’ll provide tips on collecting and preparing pine cones, share creative upcycling ideas to make pine cone Christmas trees, snowmen, candles, gnomes, garlands, wreaths, and more. I’ll also include guidance on foraging responsibly and sustainability when using natural materials like pine cones. Let’s get started on planning your handmade pine cone holiday decor!
Gathering and Preparing Pine Cones
The first step for any pine cone craft is sourcing and preparing your materials. Here are some useful tips for responsibly collecting pine cones and getting them ready for upcycling:
Foraging Locations and Practices
- Look for fallen pine cones on the ground in pine forests or areas where evergreen trees grow. Be sure you’re not removing them from private property without permission.
- Only take 1-3 cones from each tree so as not to damage the tree’s ability to reproduce. Leaving some behind allows seeds to germinate.
- Don’t strip branches or living trees. Only take pine cones that have already fallen.
- Forage after seeds have dropped, typically in late summer or fall. Cones open and disperse seeds before falling off trees.
- Abide by all local foraging laws and regulations. Some public parks prohibit removing natural items like pine cones.
Cleaning and Drying
- Use a stiff brush to remove dirt, sap, bugs, and debris.
- Soak in warm water with a little hydrogen peroxide or baking soda to further clean and disinfect.
- Allow pine cones to fully air dry before using them in crafts.
Tightening and Shaping
- Spritz with water and allow to dry to tighten up scales. Repeat as needed for desired effect.
- Carefully prune with gardening shears to remove damaged scales or shape as needed.
- Bake at 200°F for 20 minutes to open up scales.
- Dip in wax then roll in cinnamon or other spices while still warm to seal and add fragrance.
Pine Cone Christmas Trees
One of the most popular ways to use pine cones for holiday decor is creating miniature Christmas trees. These cute scenes can adorn tabletops, mantels, and more. Here are some easy methods:
Glittery Snow-Covered Trees
- Pine cones
- White paint
- Glitter glue or glitter flakes
- Miniature ornaments
- Paint entire pine cone white and let dry completely.
- Apply glitter glue in stripes, dots, or patterns over the white paint, or roll pine cone in glitter flakes to coat.
- Hot glue miniature ornaments, bows, bells, and other embellishments onto the pine cone for decoration.
- Display on mantels, tablescapes, or anywhere you want a touch of festive cheer!
Woodland Trees with Critters
- Pine cones
- Acrylic paint in green, brown, white
- Paint pens or markers
- Tiny woodland figurines (deer, foxes, rabbits, etc.)
- Diorama supplies like moss or twigs (optional)
- Paint pine cone base green for the pine tree. Allow to dry.
- Use brown and white paint pens to add bark and snowy details.
- Hot glue tiny woodland creature figurines at the base to look like they’re scurrying around the tree.
- For added dimension, glue trees onto a circular base or small box diorama decorated with moss, twigs, pebbles, etc.
Pine Cone Snowmen
Pine cone snowmen make for quick and easy holiday decor that’s fun for kids and adults. Stack painted pine cones into snowmen shapes and let your imagination run wild with faces, accessories, and themes.
Traditional Frosty Snowmen
- 3 varying sized pine cones per snowman
- Acrylic paint in white, black, orange
- Mini pom poms, felt, googly eyes and other embellishments
- Paint pine cones white and let dry. Biggest on bottom, smallest on top.
- Use black paint pen to draw eyes, mouths, buttons, and hat details.
- Glue on pom pom noses, felt scarves, googly eyes, tiny hats. Get creative with accessories!
- Group snowmen together on mantels, wreaths, tablescapes for a cute winter scene.
Woodland Forest Snowmen
- 3 pine cones per snowman
- Acrylic paint in white, black, brown
- Fake moss, small pine sprigs, twigs
- Googly eyes, mini top hat figurines
- Paint bottom pine cone brown for tree trunk body. Paint upper cones white for snowy head/middle.
- Glue on googly eyes, tiny black top hat, sprig of pine for arms.
- Apply dots of glue and press on moss and twigs for added forest textures and elements.
- Arrange forest snowmen on mantels or shelving amongst greenery and wood slices.
Pine Cone Candles
Pine cone candles make excellent quick gifts and holiday decorations. Transform pine cones into cute candleholders with simple supplies.
Pine Cone Tealight Holders
- Pine cones
- Tea lights
- Spray paint, glitter, lace, or other embellishments (optional)
- Make sure pine cone is fully dried out before placing candle inside.
- Place tealight or votive candle into center cavity of pine cone.
- Optional – Spray paint or decorate outer pine cone with glitter, lace, ribbon, etc. before inserting candle.
- Arrange pine cone candles on mantels, tablescapes, and more. The possibilities are endless!
Chunky Mixed Candle Display
- Pine cones in assorted shapes/sizes
- LED flameless candles in varying heights/sizes
- Hot glue gun
- Hot glue tall taper candles into the center of large pine cones.
- Adhere shorter flameless candles into smaller pine cones.
- Cluster together on a platter in an organic, overlapping display for a gorgeous glow.
Pine Cone Gnomes
Capture the playful spirit of gnomes and Fair Folk this holiday season by crafting pine cone gnomes for your home decor!
Snowy Beard Forest Gnomes
- 1 large, 1 medium pine cone
- Felt or cotton balls
- Acrylic paint
- Googly eyes, pom pom nose
- Miniature wood gnome hat
- Paint both pine cones red for gnome’s outfit. Let dry.
- Hot glue large pine cone upside down to form gnome’s head. Glue smaller one on top for hat.
- Use white paint pen to add beard details onto the bottom exposed scales.
- Adhere eyes, nose, and mini gnome hat on top.
- For added dimension, glue cotton balls or felt on bottom around base to look like snow.
Mossy Forest Gnomes with Mushrooms
- 1 large, 1 small pine cone
- Fake moss, mini pine sprigs
- Googly eyes, pom pom nose
- Tiny mushroom figures
- Glue large pine cone upside down for head, small cone on top for hat.
- Brush glue on bottom pine cone scales and coat with moss and mini pine sprigs for textured beard.
- Add googly eyes, pom pom nose.
- Hot glue tiny mushroom figures at base around gnome’s feet.
- Display in clusters on mantels, shelves, or woodland-themed tablescapes.
Garlands and Wreaths
Pine cone garlands and wreaths make perfect holiday decorations to adorn your home indoors and out. Create beautiful DIY garlands, swags, door pieces, and more with pine cones as the star attraction.
Burlap and Ribbon Pine Cone Garland
- Pine cones in assorted sizes
- Burlap ribbon
- Holiday ribbon
- Hot glue gun
- String or twine
- Cut burlap and holiday ribbons into 3-4 inch segments.
- Arrange pine cones and ribbons in alternating pattern and glue ribbon pieces around each pine cone.
- Once all pine cones are decorated, glue them onto a long string or twine at equal intervals to create a garland.
- Hang over mantels, stair railings, on your Christmas tree, or anywhere you want festive décor.
Mixed Greenery Pine Cone Wreath
- Grapevine or wreath form base
- Arranged pine cones
- Assorted greenery – cedar, fir, pine, holly, etc.
- Holiday decorations – pine sprigs, berries, etc.
- Florist wire and hot glue gun
- Form pine cones and greenery into a wreath shape by wiring each piece onto the base. Overlap elements for fullness.
- Tuck in sprigs of holiday greens, red berries, pinecones, and other embellishments.
- Finish by wiring a festive bow, ribbon, or topper to complete your holiday wreath.
- Hang on doors, walls, mailboxes or fireplace mantels to welcome the season.
With a little imagination and simple materials from nature, you can easily upcycle pine cones into gorgeous holiday decor. Making your own DIY pine cone decorations allows you to add rustic, woodsy style to your home’s seasonal displays.
When foraging for pine cones, be sure to follow responsible practices – only take 1-3 cones per tree, don’t damage branches, and check local regulations. Proper drying and preparation will allow your gathered pine cones to last for many holidays to come.
Get the whole family involved in creating fun painted pine cone snowmen, gnomes, Christmas trees, candles, garlands and more. Pine cone crafts make great holiday projects for all ages while bringing natural beauty indoors. I hope these tips and project ideas inspire you to creatively upcycle pine cones into beautiful, festive decor this holiday season!