Here’s how to forage for an eco-responsible holiday season


Make your own decorations with the gifts of nature. (Getty Images)

Christmas doesn’t come cheap – and this year many of us will be pushing the boat when it comes to food and gifts, in an effort to make up for last year’s lonely Christmas.

With the cost of food and fuel rising, however, savvy celebrators will be looking for ways to save money without missing out. And decorating your home for the season is the perfect way to DIY, with everything you need readily available for anything.

Christmas decorating in recent years has often been very anti-ecological, with endless plastic baubles, everlasting garlands and fake synthetic trees – not to mention the polluting spray and spray from fake pine and forest scent. .

This year it’s time to ditch all those earth-shattering items and invest time rather than money in collecting your own decorations, in full Good King Wenceslas mode.

hagebutte am Strauch im Winter

Rosehips are much more beautiful than plastic. (Getty Images)

To help you feed your festive decorations this year, Burleigh Pottery have researched the best natural materials to look for and what to do with them.

Head into the woods and hedges, but take a guide such as the Plantsnap app, to make sure the branches and plants you cut are safe in the home – and not taking on too much.

What to collect

Evergreen foliage, like ivy, holly, and mistletoe is classic Christmas foliage. Holly tends to grow in oak or beech woods, but if you can’t find any, try a local neighborhood group to ask if anyone has any in their garden that you could swap for some homemade cakes. or other cuttings.

Ivy grows on walls, tree trunks, and ground ivy grows in woods. Carefully cut what you need to avoid damaging walls and tree trunks.

Young girl holding wicker basket with mistletoe branches with green leaves and white berries.  (Viscum album).  Christmas tradition concept.  Selective focus.

Mistletoe is harder to find but you don’t need much … (Getty Images)

Mistletoe can be difficult to find, and the berries are toxic to animals and humans, so use them very carefully if you have cats, dogs, or small children. It is more difficult to pick as it tends to grow in tree branches and often looks like a sparse bird’s nest. According to The Timber Trust, it is commonly found in apple, lime and poplar trees, but has also been reported on blackthorn, hawthorn, rowan and willow trees. It is less fond of woods and is more often found in gardens, orchards, parks and cemeteries.

It also depends on where you live. It is most commonly found in “Wales, the West Midlands and southern England, with particularly large populations in Gwent, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Somerset,” according to the Woodland Trust.

Watch: Forage for wild delicacies this winter

Rosehip berries, rowan berries and oak, birch and hazel twigs are easier to access to structure your decorations.

Fir cones, pine cones and acorns are the perfect additions to any festive decoration. Not only are they beautiful, but they are easy to customize with paint and can also be used to inflate your decorative wreaths and garlands.

And don’t forget to check your own garden for materials too. For tips on sustainable eating, check out these Woodland Trust Guidelines.

A worker cuts a holly on a farm before the holiday season in British Columbia, Canada.  Photographer: James MacDonald / Bloomberg

Wear gloves if you are picking holly. It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised … (Getty Images)

How to preserve your decorations

The good thing about plastic, in a sea of ​​bad stuff, is that it lasts – and natural decorations don’t. So to help them survive the holiday season, you can save them first. Start soon, as the process takes about two weeks.

To preserve evergreens and berries, start by letting them soak in water overnight so that they receive as many nutrients as possible. Then fill a jar of jam with one centimeter of glycerin (Buy online or at a pharmacy) and two centimeters of hot water. Then cut off the bottom of the stems, gently mash the ends, and leave your foliage in the jar with the glycerin mixture until it has evaporated, which usually takes about two weeks.

To preserve pine cones and acorns, spread by soaking them for a good 45 minutes in a bucket of hot water with two cups of white vinegar to kill the insects, then allow them to air dry (this may take up to ‘to three or four days). Once dry, preserve them by applying a transparent varnish.

Read more: Make your home cheerful and bright with these DIY Christmas decorations

Top view of yellow and orange berries in a blue pot on rustic wooden background with copy space

Preserve your branches and berries before putting them on display. (Getty Images)

How to use your natural decorations

Make a table runner from greenery. Instead of looking for plastic snowmen and scented candles, create a naturally scented rope of pine branches, ivy, and pine cones. You can use wire to help shape it, or go natural – and there’s a lot of Youtube and Tiktok videos to help you.

Burleigh suggests, “To make your table runner of greenery, simply group around five stems of foliage and tie them with floral wire. Then make five more of these bouquets and tie them all together with floral thread. Finish by nesting your extras in the runner, such as pine cones, twigs and berries. “

The same techniques work for fireplace garlands – you can also weave them with satin ribbon or glass balls.

Avoid real candles among twigs, no matter how pretty they are – LED string lights or battery operated candles are much safer.

christmas wreath and decorations on fireplace mantel with white brick wall

Make a loot for the fireplace with your stuffed greenery. (Getty Images)

Make a festive wreath

Start with a wire frame to build your wreath around – you can use florists’ wire, make one from a hanger, or even use cardboard. Tie your holly, ivy, pine cones and berries with floral thread and glue them into the frame until it is completely covered. Make sure to layer the bunches on top of each other so they look full.

You can also make a rustic, fragrant wreath with dried orange slices and cinnamon sticks.

Christmas wreath made of natural fir branches hanging on a white wall.  Wreath with natural ornaments: bumps, nuts, cinnamon, cones.  New year and winter holidays.  Christmas decor

Add cinnamon sticks and dried flowers to your festive wreath. (Getty Images)

pine cone bowls

The display comes in a stylish decorative bowl with winter berry twigs. Or if you are looking for natural ways to incorporate a festive scent into your home, you can create a decorative winter potpourri with pine cones, dried orange, cinnamon sticks, and nutmeg.

Avoid glitter (microplastics are terrible for the environment and can kill sea creatures) – instead, give them some white paint, or dab some glue and dip them in table salt or salt instead. Granulated sugar.

Read more: Best sustainable gifts for Christmas 2021: our guide to this year’s best green gifts

vintage metal kettle with pine cones.  Rustic Nordic Scandinavian country chalet style decor.  winter still life.  Christmas card

Cones; the balls of nature. (Getty Images)

Decorate the Christmas tree

Unless you grew your tree yourself or planted it last year, you may need to buy one – decorate it with popcorn garlands, pine cones, berries, ribbons and even dried flowers. You can make salt dough ornaments, or even old jewelry, and make Christmas cookies to hang from branches. And of course, try to find one with roots and keep it in the ground so you can plant it and reuse it next year.

Christmas tree with eco-friendly decorations, ornaments and gifts on an old wooden background

A Christmas tree with eco-friendly decorations, ornaments and gifts is a festive delight. (Getty Images)

Watch: How To Make Last Minute Christmas Decorations

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