An Independent Christmas

Alternative Christmas tree decoration ideas - natural, biodegradable and cheap

We are very lucky to have just moved into a beautiful eco home complete with a living cedar roof and thyme lawn in the inner city of Bristol, UK. I am in my first week of my new job, so we are still settling down into our new lives. You may think we are mad venturing into the blogging world at such a hectic time, what with moving house and starting new jobs right before Christmas, but what better time to start writing about food when it plays such an important role in the festivities! This blog is our journey of finding our feet in a new city, new job roles and new culinary experiences. I hope you enjoy following us.

A foodie’s Christmas tree

As we have just moved into our new home, we have no Christmas decorations. We didn’t want to spend money on plastic tinsel or baubles, so I decided to try my hand at making some handmade decorations. As this is ultimately a food blog,  I wanted everything on the tree to be made of edible ingredients.

Citrus segment baubles

Citrus orange stained glass window segment baubles for biodegradable Christmas tree decorations

These work really well in front of fairy lights*, as the lights glisten through the segments creating a stained glass window effect. As you are drying them out  the citrus perfume fills your house with a lovely Christmas scent, perfect for getting you into the Christmas spirit! A very cheap and easy decoration which gives a wonderful effect.

I used orange and lemon slices but you can choose a selection of citrus fruit to create these decorations such as grapefruit or lime. I think blood oranges would look beautiful! The amount of fruit you use depends on the size of your Christmas tree. We have a tiny Christmas tree so I only needed to use 1 orange and lemon.

*The fairy lights aren’t edible, I did buy them.

Equipment: Either ribbon, thin wire, string or strong cotton. Needle or scissors to make the hole for the string to hang the decorations. Oven.

Ingredients: A selection of oranges, lemons or other citrus fruit. As a guide, I cut about 10 slices per fruit.

drying out the citrus segments to create the stained glass window decorations

  1. Pre-heat your oven to about 160oC.
  2. Slice about 1.5cm off the top & bottom of the fruit and discard (or save for the zest for another meal).
  3. With a sharp knife, start slicing from end to end, trying to keep the slices between 0.5 – 1cm thick. Too thin and the fruit will burn, too thick and they won’t dry out.
  4. Place the segments on a grill tray in the oven and leave for 2-3 hours, turning occasionally.
  5. Watch carefully after 2 hours. If the fruit begins to brown drop the temperature to about 125oC.
  6. The fruit should become dry but malleable with no moisture left within the fruit after about 3 hours.
  7. Pierce a hole through the segment using a needle or scissors and thread your ribbon, wire or string through a tie to create a loop. This will make it easy to hang your decorations on your tree.

Citrus segment stained glass window Christmas tree decorations

You can also use the same method for creating other fruit decoration, such as coring an apple, slicing thinly and drying the fruit as above. This will lend a lovely aromatic fresh smell to the tree, but you won’t get the stained glass effect the citrus fruit gives.

Popcorn tinsel

Another cheap but effective decoration for your tree is popcorn tinsel. If you buy the corn and pop it yourself it will last longer  than if you get microwave popcorn which has already been salted. The salt dries the popcorn out and discolours it after a while. A way to make your tinsel even more festive is to add a cranberry every few popcorn pieces, however I didn’t have cranberries at the time so mine is just plain.

A very natural Christmas with handmade popcorn tinsel, great for kids!

Equipment: Strong cotton or thin wire. Needle.

Ingredients: Popping corn, fresh cranberries (optional).

  1. Add a tablespoon of oil in a large pan with a lid and place on a medium heat on the stove.
  2. Add the popping corn  (I used around 70g for a garland of around 2m*)
  3. Place a lid on the pan and wait until the corn stops popping, or at least until there is about 10 second gaps between each pop.
  4. Thread the cotton onto the needle and tie a large knot at the end of the thread.
  5. Pierce a hole in the  popcorn with the needle and thread onto the cotton.
  6. Once the garland is long enough, tie at the end and place around the tree.

Homemade handmade biodegradable popcorn tinsel for Christmas decorations ideas

Cranberry beads

These look like little wooden beads and are really effective to add a lovely deep Christmas red to your tree. You can freeze any cranberries which are left over, or make some homemade cranberry sauce for you Christmas dinner. Get some recipe ideas here.

Fresh Cranberry bead chains to decorate the Christmas tree and home

Equipment: Strong cotton or thin wire. Needle.

Ingredients: Fresh cranberries

  1. Thread the cotton onto the needle and tie a large knot at the end of the thread.
  2. Pierce a hole through the cranberry using the needle and thread onto the cotton.
  3. Once the garland is long enough, tie at the end and place around the tree.

Creating beautiful colourful red cranberry chains for biodegradable Xmas

Threading the cranberries onto the cotton to create homemade eco-friendly Christmas decorations

You can really run with this idea of an edible Christmas tree. I am currently experimenting with cinnamon sticks and star anise decorations, or create an orange pomander by sticking cloves in an orange, drying in a low oven as above and hang from the tree  with ribbon (our tree would not take the weight). The best thing about this approach is there is no wondering where to store all the decorations until next year, you can just throw them in the compost! A natural, fun and cheap way to decorate your home.

Biodegradable eco-friendly natural handmade Christmas decorations

Some other lovely handmade ideas include:

 

8 Comments

  1. Ahhh Danni these are great – next year x hope you’re both really well x

    Reply
  2. Thanks Sarah! They take a bit of time but it looks lovely 🙂

    Reply
  3. Amazing ideas, definitely going to be trying these out!

    Reply
  4. These citrus slices are so pretty! How long do they last? Can you use them year after year or do they go moldy?

    Reply
    • Hi Grace, if you ensure the slices are completely dry then they should last for over a year – the trick is to remove all of the moisture out. A really low oven for a few hours should do it 🙂 Thanks for reading!

      Reply

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