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15 Nov 2013

How To Use Fall Foliage To Decorate Throughout the Holidays

Informative Landscape Topics No Comments

Pine branches, pine cones, and dehydrated fruits make great holiday decorations! Bring your landscape inside by using fresh fall foliage to scent and add a festive appeal to your home. There are several things you can create, but nothing beat those cinnamon pine cones. Dehydrated fruits are perhaps the oldest known Christmas decorations, so creating garlands, wreaths, and centerpieces with them gives your home that warm, traditional, holiday feel.

fall foliage taken by Alyssa Roehrenbeck in Lake Oswego, Orgon

Cinnamon Pine Cones

Cinnamon pine cones are easy to make. You’ll need pine cones (in Oregon these are plentiful), baking trays, aluminum foil, cinnamon scented oil (found at craft stores), cinnamon sticks, an old craft paint brush, and resealable bags. First, gather your pine cones and clean them with water. Next, dry them back out by baking on aluminum foil lined baking sheets for 20 minutes at about 250 degrees. Let them cool. Use the paintbrush to paint the scented oil onto each pine cone. Then, fill up the resealable bags with pine cones, tossing in a few extra drops of scent and real cinnamon sticks. Shake and let sit for 1-2 weeks. After 1-2 weeks, the cinnamon scenet will be properly infused. Use them all around your house to make things smell good, or give them away as small gifts!

Dehydrating Fruits For Holiday Decorations

Slides of Oranges

Apples, pears, oranges, and cranberries make beautiful holiday decorations. Use whatever you have growing in your yard. In Oregon, that probably means an overflow of apples and pears right about now. You can even use the less than perfect apples and pears for the decorations. Once you’ve got them collected up and cleaned, you’ll need to prepare them for the dehydrator. There are two steps for this.

  1. Cutting – Only cut as much as will fit into your dehydrator or on trays in your oven. The most important thing is to cut them as evenly as possible. If you are making gifts or want them perfect, use a mandolin. A mandolin will make the slicing infinitely easier and is worth the investment. Slicing the fruit evenly will help everything dehydrate at the same rate and will save you a lot of babysitting time.
  2. Treat them to keep the color. There are several ways to do this, but my favorite is to keep a big bowl of cool water with a cup of lemon juice in it. Once cut, just toss the fruit in and swirl until you are ready to place them in the dehydrator.

arranging

The preparation is the hardest part, once all the cutting is done, just place the fruit in the dehydrator and flip it on. You can also dry fruit by placing them in the oven at 200 degrees. Check them often. You don’t want to over dehydrate, but if you don’t get all the moisture out, you will develop a mold problem. So make sure they are really dry before calling them done!

Once you’ve got your cinnamon pine cones and dried fruit ready, the holiday decor ideas are endless. Tie them together to make garland for the tree or the fireplace mantle. Twine is a great choice to continue with the warm Christmas feel. Grab some small pine branches from your yard and you’ve got all the right tools for a wreath or centerpiece.  You can also make ornaments and potpourri. Some of my favorite holiday decor ideas are the following.

Dried Fruit Garland

Baked Fruit Ornaments

In Oregon, we have plentiful fall foliage, so don’t miss the opportunity to use your landscape for something just a little different this holiday season. Share you handmade holiday decorations with us on our Facebook page.

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