9 Easy & Earth Friendly Ornaments You Don’t Need To Store


I’m sharing some updated holiday themed posts from the archives over December. Hope you are gearing up for a relaxing time with your loved ones. We’re having our first big family Christmas in five years – I can’t wait!

Is there such a thing as minimalist Christmas tree ornaments? Probably not.

But there are decorations that are edible or compostable and don’t require huge craft or sewing skills to put together. Or a glue gun.

Please note: I am not making all of these decorations. This is not turning into a craft blog.

At most I’ll string popcorn and cranberries one evening while we watch Elf and make/bake cinnamon hearts or gingerbread stars with the kids. If I get a surge of energy I might take a stab at dried oranges because I love the smell of orange. This is all IF we get a tree this year.

We’re ten days away from Christmas and I’m still not sure we will have a traditional Christmas tree. Our building doesn’t allow ‘live’ Christmas trees and our storage closet fits our luggage and a few other items. Owning a reusable Christmas tree would be a huge space investment for us. I’m mulling over painting a tree onto our solarium door with acrylic paint. Is that minimalist enough? Ha!

9 Compostable or Edible Christmas Tree Decorations

Head over for a tutorial on the linked websites if you’re interested in making any of them. You’ll want to use 100% cotton thread or twine to make the item compostable. Otherwise remove ribbons and such before you send the item back to mother earth.

1. Cranberry Garland

2. Gingerbread Stars

3. Popcorn String

4. Cinnamon Apple Sauce Hearts

5. Christmas Spice Bundle

6. Dried Orange

7. Orange Pommander

8. Pine Cones

These would be compostable if you attached the ribbon by looping it under the leaves for easy removal and didn’t add sparkles.

9. Paper ornaments and Chains

Beyond my skill or motivation, but you could remove staples and brads and compost the paper from these lovely ornaments.

Photo Credit: JimmieHomeSchoolMom

Any other ideas for simple earth friendly and easy to make Christmas ornaments?

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  • Of course a potted tree to decorate at Christmas (and other celebrations!) is both minimal and eco friendly. We are raising our children Jewish, but we buy a bundle of evergreen branches from the guys from the state north of is who live in a trailer for a month selling trees. We put those in a giant jar, string lights all over and hang all the wonderful preschool ornaments and keepsakes I have from my childhood. It’s enough and it’s wonderful.

    • Karin – potted Christmas tress are a gray zone with our condo strata. I was told a long time ago they were a no. I looked into it last week and all the area suppliers are sold out :( I might try next year.
      Love the idea of evergreen branches! Thank you for sharing.

  • No need for a tree to hang a few ornaments! You could hang them in a doorway, or from a mantel. Since we don’t have a mantel in our house – I hang our stockings from stocking holders placed on the edges of our piano.

    • We also don’t have a mantel. Stockings are hung off a cabinet in our living room. We do have some of our ornaments on display. The oldest really wants a tree. I get it but I’m hoping a painted tree will be enough for him.

  • We have a ‘live tree’ with lots the tradition of dad carrying the tree home with the kids andvthen using the dried tree in our stove.
    As regards decorations, we have the cranberry garland, gingerbread stars/hearts and the dried orange slices. Also, we have some wood Christmas tree ornaments from Bethlehem, some old ornaments we got as presents and some that the kids and I made.
    As one of my boys knows the truth about Santa, and feels that this Christmas cannot possibly be as magical as before, we are trying our best to stick to our traditions. I feel that making the house look festive but not cluttered, have a beautiful real tree, decorate, craft and cook/bake together will help our children move from focusing from Santa to the real meaning of Christmas.

    • Oh, Apple! I’m feeling sad here for your eldest. Is he at all excited about helping make the magic of Santa happen for his brother? I read a really love post from a mother who’s daughter was now in on Santa and was excited for her younger siblings.
      I love that you are focusing on the real meaning of Christmas and that making your home feel festive is part of it. We have a few things up and everyone is enjoying our advent calendar, the stockings that are hung, our Christmas candles and a few bits that are on our photo ledge. Have a wonderful holiday season!

  • In a few years, with your houseful of sons, you can have them make ornaments out of Lego bricks. There’s a skill to making spheres, which they’ve done in the past . . . but this year ours brought down their Death Star & Tatooine (Lego Star Wars Planets) to add to the tree. :-)

  • I LOVE these ideas…especially since our kids are still little and I don’t trust them with many of the “real” ornaments we have…they would have a BLAST making these :)

  • I learned to keep an eye out for natural decorations after a women’s social at my church. One of the members’ mothers spoke about how to create a welcoming environment to show hospitality. Following her early widowhood, she opened a high end florist, and was full of ideas for using free natural materials to create spectacular settings.

    I live in the US South, so Spanish moss, pine cones, magnolia leaves, dried crepe myrtle pods and pyracantha are all readily available, and people will even thank you for tidying their yards if you ask to harvest. If the summer rains were good, there might even be some dried hydrangea heads still on the bushes, which look great as-is, or can be spray painted gold for extra glamour. The crepe myrtle pods also get spray painted gold and tucked into the Christmas tree or displayed in vases on the mantel. Spanish moss (following a good coating of Lysol) is gorgeous dripping off a mantel with strings of white lights. This year, we wired enormous pine cones to our Christmas tree as ornaments, especially on the lower branches, because my daughter just turned 1 and we didn’t dare use too many breakable ornaments. Pyracantha (firethorn) twigs can also be tucked into the tree or displayed in vases. I have mine in a rustic ceramic honey pot next to the TV. Just watch out for the thorns! And of course, magnolia leaves make hardy garlands and wreaths.

    You can create a very rich-looking holiday display if you have the time and access to nature to forage! I think the key is to use a LOT of the natural materials for maximum impact, but there’s no commitment and nothing to put away except light strings and candles when the season is over.

    • Anna – thank you for this!! What a wonderful list of materials and ideas. Really appreciate it. Rachel
      P.S. 1 year olds + ornaments = too much temptation. We’re in the midst of a family project to pain a tree on our glass solarium door. I’ve painted it on the inside so the baby doesn’t lick away the acrylic paint 😉

  • What fun! We strung popcorn this past weekend :-) with only so much space to store ornaments and decorations, and wanting to do something together, making them ourselves was the best idea.
    My husband also made a star out of folded paper for the top of our tree (we haven’t decided yet if we want to paint it or glitter it) and I made a couple other small decorations with a friend (small styrofome glittery trees for the window sill)
    Add some strings of lights, and were ready for Christmas!

  • Wow – I can’t believe your building has a rule about live Christmas trees! I can they justify that!!

    I read an article the other day that said a plastic tree needs to be used for more than 20 years for the environmental impact to be considered equitable with real trees! So I would be pretty unimpressed with your buildings rule.

    I’m currently living in Singapore where 95% of the population lives in apartments and the rules are very straight forward – don’t make unreasonable amounts of noise or impinge unreasonably on other people’s space. People are pretty understanding here and you see the common areas in many apartment blocks very nicely decorated with potted plants and small tables and chairs. It doesn’t bother anyone, because everyone knows that it is everyone’s space and that people really have to LIVE there, not just camp out for a few years before de-camping to the suburbs.

    I have also heard of many places (not just apartment buildings but also suburbs) where you are not allowed to hang laundry to dry outside on your balcony or in your yard. if I lived their I would kick up a massive fuss, but it seems like most people just accept it…so strange to me that people are basically forced to use dryers and kill the planet!

    Sorry, rant over! The homemade natural Christmas decorations are lovely to make together, to look at on the tree and have minimal environmental impact – all good in my book!

  • When I was a kid we had the really ugly 1970’s fake tree, and I always wanted a “real” one. Now we always get a real one, and I wish my husband would agree to have a fake one (or none at all, as our apartment is full enough without squeezing a TREE into it!) So i hope you don’t feel too badly if you skip the tree. Can you use lights to make a Christmas tree shape on a wall or door? One make of snowflakes cut from re-purposed gift wrap? I’m just not into the tree myself, but I love other Christmas decorations.

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