Bringing The Outdoors In

There’s nothing I love more than bringing the outdoors in to decorate my old farmhouse.  Though it’s a favorite practice all year long, with freshly cut daffodils in April and treasures from the coast during summertime, Thanksgiving and Christmas are when those natural elements seem to really shine.  Personally, I love reading old books that describe how our great-grannies decorated for Christmas.  It’s so easy to visualize the older brothers cutting down a fresh pine tree while the younger siblings gathered holly, ivy, pinecones, acorns and local, seasonal items to decorate the mantles, windows, doors and tabletops.

I’m sure it’s the romantic in me, but I love to do the same; to bring nature indoors for the holiday season.  Admittedly, it’s not always practical, but with some clever planning, it can be beautiful, frugal and totally cozy.

Here are some ideas that my family incorporates into our Christmas décor.

Pine boughs- This is a total gimme, but you have so many options here!  You can purchase inexpensive live garland at most grocery and hardware stores or a cheap tree to butcher for decorating…but I encourage you to scrounge, my friends!  Look to your landscaping for branches that need trimmed back or forage (with permission) from a local lot.  You can also find freebie trimmings at most local tree lots for free.  These boughs look beautiful tucked into artificial greenery, tied carefully around candles, draped on mantles and light fixtures or turned into a simple swag for your door.  Of course, you need to be cautious around flames!

Pine cones – Each year when my children were young, we’d visit the local cemetery and gather baskets of pinecones to decorate the house with.  To kill off the bugs and get them to open up, simply pop them on a cookie sheet in a warm oven (200) for an hour or so, then stash them in baskets, add them to the mantle, hang them from the tree, create a pinecone wreath, a bird feeder or sprinkle with a cinnamony Holiday Essential Oil Blend to healthfully fragrance your home.

Acorns, Buckeyes, Gum Tree balls, Rose Hips – These simple, natural elements look beautiful strung on wire!  Incorporate them into your garland on your stairway, hang them on the Christmas tree, add them to a basket or lantern on your table, toss them onto your mantle, fragrance them with essential oil and sit them around the doorways to greet your visitors!  Most of these can be found in any wooded area, just ask for permission before you begin gathering!

Hedge Apples -I love to see baskets of hedge apples sitting around during fall and winter!  Also called Osage oranges and horse apples, these funky-looking, inedible fruits have a fresh, slightly citrusy scent and are rumored to keep spiders away.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I love the bright shock of lime green and the funky texture that hedge apples offer to décor.

Magnolia Leaves – Don’t laugh, but when we visited some friends in South Carolina this summer, I was sure to bring home a HUGE bag of fallen Magnolia leaves to decorate with.  (I’m sure their neighbors shook their heads and declared I wasn’t from around those parts lol)  Plan A was a pine and magnolia wreath….plan B involved wiring them into ‘picks’ and tucking them into the stairway garland and Christmas tree.  I love the warm, cinnamon brown shades of the leaves among the evergreen!  And just seeing the leaves remind me of good friends and downtime in the Lowcountry.  Sigh.

But don’t stop there!  Any natural elements that you find beautiful can be incorporated into your décor!  I love to add pheasant feathers, antlers, cotton stems, dried citrus slices, broom corn, cinnamon sticks and Spanish moss to my decorating theme, but look to your own region, travels and experiences to find unique items that will delight your family.  Tell me how YOU bring nature indoors for the holidays…..

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