I love Christmas! It’s a magical time that evokes extremely happy childhood memories. I clearly remember the pleasurable tingle of expectation that intensified all month until the thrill of hanging up my stocking was almost too intense to bear!

As kids, December had us in a creativity frenzy – making an advent calendar, baking mince pies, decorating the tree, collecting twigs and leaves for the wreath, creating greetings cards from old magazines, and making original gifts from papier mache.

As an adult it’s all too easy to get caught in the trap of consumerism and excessive consumption at this time of year. It’s said that household waste increases by 25% around Christmas. Which is shameful, embarrassing and surely unnecessary.

I want to teach my kid through example and don’t want him to see me throwing my environmental principles out the window each year on a whim.

So tempting as it is to buy cheap, glitzy and fun Christmas decorations, this year I’m harking back to my childhood ways and making basic decorations from things my son and I can easily find in our garden, at the local park and in the kitchen cupboards.

And I can’t wait – it’s going to be so much fun!

If you would like to do the same, here are a few simple ideas of decorations you can easily make with your kids. Remember the options are endless and only limited by your resourcefulness and imagination!

Gathering materials

Most of the natural materials we commonly associate with Christmas are from the northern hemisphere, such as holly and mistletoe. But there are wonderful substitutes found right across Australia which can make very festive decorations.

Mount an expedition through your local neighbourhood to see what natural treasures you can find. We live near a beach so we’ll be looking for interesting pieces of driftwood, as well as twigs, leaves, seeds and cones.

Twig treeMiniature trees

Space is limited in our apartment so our ‘tree’ will in fact be a collection of twigs and small branches.

If you want to do the same, look for twigs that have lots of hooks and forks to hang your decorations from. Arrange them in a heavy based bucket, vase or large flower pot.

You can leave the bark plain, paint it, or wrap the branches with pieces of brightly coloured ribbon or yarn.

Banksia seed pod decorations

My street is littered with beautiful banksia seed pods of varying shapes, sizes and textures. Similar to the ever popular pine cone, they add a nice local touch to your decorations.

Just glue a loop of coloured ribbon to the top and you’re done!Or if you want to get fancy, coat with clear drying glue and roll in glitter.

Seed ornaments

I love these! You’ll need to collect or buy pumpkin, sunflower or other seeds.

First design your ornament on a piece of cardboard then cut it out. Use something pointy to poke a hole in the top.

Spread a thin line of glue along the edge of the cardboard shape and then carefully place a row of seeds in the glue. Wait for it to dry and then do another row in the same or different seed. Repeat until you’ve covered your shape.

Then just thread a piece of coloured ribbon, yarn or plain string through the hole and hang.

Eggshell ornaments

Eggs aren’t just for Easter – they make great Christmas decorations too.

Paint, dye, glitter or wrap

Paint, dye, glitter or wrap

You need to poke a small hole in each end of your eggs. Gently blow through one the egg out one end and don’t waste the eggs – omelette for dinner!

Carefully run water through the eggs to clean them, soak in water, then drain and dry.

You’re then ready to paint the eggshells however you like, reminding little hands to be gentle.

Finally glue on a loop of reused ribbon.

Baked dough decorations

Star shaped doughMix together two cups of plain sifted flour with ¾ cup of coarse cooking salt and about ½ cup of water. Knead into a firm dough with a good consistency for modeling and then get creating!

You can pretty much make any shape you like, just as you would do with playdough. Just remember to poke a hole in the top if you want to hang them up.

When you’re happy with your shapes, bake them in a low oven (100°) for about two hours. Cool, paint and thickly varnish on all sides.

Citrus fruit window decorations

Dried out oranges and lemons have a beautiful stained-glass window effect when done well. Slice the fruit, pat dry, place on a baking sheet and then leave to dry in a warm, dry place.

They can also be dried in a low oven, but be careful as overheating can make the fruit brittle and dark.

Glue ribbon loops to the backs of the slices and bows on the front if you want. You can also paint with glue and sprinkle with sugar for a sparkling effect.

Some notes

  • Most of these ornaments can easily be saved for following years. Just carefully wrap in tissue paper, gently place in a box and store in a cool, dry place.
  • These projects are designed for you to do together with your kids and aren’t suitable for young children to do by themselves. Use common sense when working with glue, paint, scissors and other tools.
  • Unfortunately I can’t claim any of these ideas as original, so would like to thank the numerous sources for the inspiration and ideas. Thank!

EarthKid ready-made decorations

But if you really can’t spare the time to make decorations – or if you just want to add some colourful variety to your collection – EarthKid sells a lovely range of handmade cloth and felt Christmas decorations. Beautifully crafted with love under Fair Trade conditions, our range will become part of your family’s Christmas tradition in no time.

Merry Christmas!