For some reason, decorating always seems to be the last thing we thing of at my house around the holidays. We're so busy shopping for presents, attending gatherings, and baking the days away that we don't give it a second thought until VOOM! it's the week before Christmas and we need to decorate!
This year I collaborated with my mom on a fab, frugal, and earth-friendly way to decorate with pine cones. Begin by collecting pine cones from a logical spot (say under a pine tree...?) until you have what is necessary. Make sure that you get an assortment of sizes. When you're ready, cover baking trays with foil and spread pine cones in a single/double layer. Simply bake at 200F for 30-45 minutes to dry the sap/kill insects and let cool.
I recommend using them naturally, either filling vases/bowls with a combination of pine cones and colorful ornaments or using any thread/ribbon you might have handy to create new ornaments. If you want to get crafty, maybe get out the spray paint or try one of the ideas that can be found here. The benefit of leaving them in their natural state is that they make great fire-starters for a cozy night around the fireplace! Or just toss into the woods--no pain of trying to store decorations til next year!
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