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Nature’s Seasonal Beauty

Remember A Charlie Brown Christmas special when the gang tries to find a tree for their holiday play and all they find are brightly colored, shiny, blinking metal trees? Even back in 1965 when the iconic movie was made, they knew that the holiday is NOT about flashy, commercial things. It is about family, friends and gathering to celebrate each other. #seasonofgiving

I grew up on the Charlie Brown special and have raised my own kids on it too. It never fails to capture the exact sentiment that every year we are inundated with pretty, shiny things to purchase to make our holidays perfect when in reality, all we need is each other.

But, I am no Grinch.

Bah Humbug!

I still love to decorate to create a sense of comfort and joy – objects and scents bring back great holiday memories. When my kids were younger, it was all about creating a magical world. Today, it is about showing them that objects and gifts are not necessary, just memories and time together. (that’s not so easy with teenagers) I wish I had started sooner!

So, in an effort to show gratitude and giving and to also reduce our carbon footprint and our budget, I am doing my best to keep our household purchasing low. Instead of buying decor, we are making our own natural homemade decor. It is super easy and fun to do and forces you to slow down to create in this crazy season and stress.

First we dried orange slices and cranberries and then we gathered sticks, twigs, cedar branches, pinecones and holly from the backyard and the woods. We also took the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks from the pantry and pulled out our huge spool of jute that I have had for years just for all these amazing creative crafts. #alwaysanartteacher

Next we made a quick and easy salt dough recipe to make rolled cookie cutter ornaments. They are not for eating, but they are adorable and easy and can be a great way to add holiday scents to your home decor. Then you just gather up everything and start putting things together in any which way that makes you happy!

Slow down the holiday craziness with some homemade natural decor to make with your family.

Here is how we created all of our “supplies”

Dried Orange Slices:

  • slice navel oranges (or any citrus fruits) about 1/4″ thick
  • set oven to 200 degrees F
  • take your slices and pat them dry as much as possible without ruining their shape
  • place them on cooling racks in the oven for at least 2 hours or until they are dried – each slice is different! (mine took several hours)
  • store in an airtight container until you are ready to create!

Dried Cranberries:

  • set oven to lowest temperature (170 degrees F)
  • boil a pot of water
  • place your washed cranberries in a bowl
  • once the water is boiling, pour over the berries and let sit for 5 – 8 minutes
  • place cranberries in a single layer on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet
  • put in freezer for a few hours
  • place in oven for a REALLY long time……I had mine in there for a couple days actually….it smelled amazing. You will be able to tell when they are dried because they will no longer be wet or squishy and instead shriveled and dry
Add essential oils to the dough or afterwards when they are dried!

Salt Dough Ornaments:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 2 cups flour (any kind)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • mix everything and roll out the dough and use cookie cutters to make your shapes – don’t forget to make holes to hang them with!
  • bake in a 225 degree F oven for 2-3 hours (flip half way)
  • If you want, you can add cinnamon or other spices or essential oils to your dough. Have fun!

String everything together on a garland or tie each individual item as a cute and simple ornament or decor for a wrapped present. No matter what you do or how your projects turn out, the point is that you got to spend some time together making new memories and you didn’t spend any extra money. The holidays can be a time of stress, anxiety and debt and you just beat that!

Namaste.

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