Say goodbye to the blinking lights, plastic silver balls, and larger-than-life inflated Santas that have come to mark the holidays. Instead, go back to nature to find your home decorating inspiration and celebrate the season from its roots.
We've come up with a dozen creative, incredibly inexpensive, and easy-to-make ornaments, gift-wraps, and decorations sparked by the scents, shapes, and ingredients of this festive time of year. You'll already have most of the items you need to create these projects on hand in your spice rack, closet, or backyard. So skip the superstore this year and save your money -- each idea costs less than $10 and most are even cheaper -- and the planet by putting a little more green into your holidays.
Good Wish Tree
1. Collect a dozen fallen branches on winter hikes; look for ones about 3 feet long. Arrange in a vase in a hallway or foyer.
2. Using ribbon scraps, hang small cards with holiday wishes written on one side from the branches.
Recycled Chip Bags
1. Cut open an empty potato-chip bag along its seam to reveal the shiny white or silver inside of the bag.
2. Flatten the bag, wash it with soap and water, and air dry.
3. Wrap a present and adorn it with ribbons and homemade cards.
Stamping on Recycled Shopping Bags
1. Cut an open paper shopping bag along one fold and scissor out the bottom of the bag.
2. Wrap your gift in it.
3. Recycle a wine cork and use it as a stamping device by dipping one end of it into ink or a dark fruit or beet juice.
4. Apply to the surface of the bag in patterns inspired by the season.
Reused Button Sack
1. Sew first button 4 1/2 inches from the top of one side of a small paper bag.
2. Fold top over twice (about 1-inch folds), toward the button side.
3. Align second button with first on the second fold.
4. Unfold to sew second button.
5. Refold, and wrap twine in a figure 8 around both buttons.
Spice Stars and Drops
1. Arrange 3 cinnamon sticks into a star shape.
2. Crisscross 1-mm-thick hemp twine 3 times around the center, and tie end into a loop.
1. Nestle 3 anise pods in a row and secure with nontoxic glue.
2. Wrap twine around the center of each pod, weaving around each "petal," and tie the end into a loop.
Snowy Sugar Pinecones
1. Collect 20 to 30 pinecones from the woods.
2. Mix the whites of two eggs in a bowl (enough for 36 pinecones).
3. Drizzle pinecones with egg whites using a pastry brush.
4. Sprinkle with crystal sugar. Let dry for 4 hours.
5. Tie string around bottom, leaving a loop for hanging.
1. Cut four unpeeled oranges into rounds about 1/4-inch thick. (Each fruit yields about 6 to 8 slices.)
2. Bake on a greased cookie sheet at 175 degrees for 4 hours.
3. Poke a hole near one edge with a needle and thread doubled twine through to make a loop.
More from Martha Stewart Living:
15 Kitchen Shortcuts That Will Change the Way You Cook
19 Tips for Perfect Laundry Every Time
20 Super-Efficient, Super-Effective Ways to Clean All the Things
47 Ways to Maximize Space in Your Kitchen
This stunning chandelier is made with fishing line and assorted ball ornaments.