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11 Simple DIY Holiday Decoration Ideas With a Rustic Theme

Rebecca is a retired special education teacher, a freelance writer, and an avid recycler.

Sweetgum balls and pinecones are great materials to use when creating rustic, woodsy holiday decorations.

Sweetgum balls and pinecones are great materials to use when creating rustic, woodsy holiday decorations.

Why Use Natural, Sustainable Materials as Christmas Decor?

Do you live in a cabin in the woods? Maybe you own one as a second home in the country. If you're planning on spending the holidays at your home nestled in the woods, you'll love these DIY rustic holiday decorating ideas.

At my cabin in the North Georgia Mountains, Christmas falls on the heels of a stunning autumn. Many colorful leaves, pinecones, seeds, and other natural materials are still lying around come late November. Much of the fun of rustic decorating is connecting with the outdoors and getting immersed in nature.

I like to give my natural items a little bling here and there with gold and glitter, but all-natural is also nice. Take a walk in the parks, woods, and fields near home, and let a little imagination bring nature indoors for Christmas.

Sweetgum Balls and Pinecones Are Great Crafting Materials

Don't rake away those pesky sweetgum balls and pine cones. They can be used to make adorable wreaths, candle rings, ornaments, and much more. Don't know what sweetgum trees are or never seen one? I checked on Amazon, and you can buy pinecones and sweetgum balls online, too. We have lots of smallish pinecones here in North Georgia. I buy my big ones at stores like Dollar General, Target, or even the grocery store. The gluing is the hardest part of crafting with sweetgum balls. Be sure to use a mini-glue gun.

Suggested Materials for Rustic Holiday Decorations

  • Sweetgum balls
  • Assorted pine cones
  • Acrylic or tempera paint
  • Chalk paint
  • Mason jars
  • Recyclable glass jars
  • Irridescent glitter
  • Twine
  • Mini hot glue gun
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Pompoms
  • Felt
  • Tiny beads
  • Googly eyes
  • Toothpicks
  • Holiday ribbons
  • Tiny bells
  • Holiday stickers
  • Local greenery
Sweetgum Bird Ornaments

Sweetgum Bird Ornaments

1. Sweetgum Bird Ornament

These are so easy, and they always turn out looking like they were done by a real crafting pro. All you do is glue two of those sticky, pesky sweetgum balls together. The wings are scales from a pine cone. A little black and yellow create a face and beak, and the feet are tiny twigs painted orange. Then, all you do is paint over them in bright bird colors. The paint will cover the hot glue.

Rustic Christmas Mouse Ornament

Rustic Christmas Mouse Ornament

2. Rustic Christmas Mouse Ornament

This is another easy one to make. You'll need a sweetgum ball for the body. Look for one that has a stem, because you want your mouse to have a tail. His head is an acorn with the tip painted pink. His ears are acorn caps. Then just add googly eyes and a bow. Use the tiny google eyes, or he'll look like a monster!

Rustic Sweetgum Star Tree-Topper

Rustic Sweetgum Star Tree-Topper

3. Rustic Sweetgum Star Tree-Topper

Grab a box of sustainable wooden toothpicks, a sweetgum ball, white paint, and glitter. This one is fail-proof and lots of fun. It's almost therapeutic sticking the ends of the toothpicks into the sweetgum ball, and you don't need glue to do this. Paint the toothpicks white. Tempera or acrylic works well. After the paint dries, dad a little Elmers on the sweetgum ball with a brush and add sparkly glitter.

Pine Cone Tree Ornament

Pine Cone Tree Ornament

4. Pine Cone Tree Ornament

The holidays are such busy days! I need to get more large pine cones. But that would mean another shopping trip. I decided to use one of those small North Georgia pinecones and make this one anyway. The star is, yes, a pesky sweetgum ball. It's an easy one, and the kids will like to do these. Try to use a bigger pinecone than I did.

Rustic Reindeer Ornament

Rustic Reindeer Ornament

5. Rustic Reindeer Ornament

The reindeer ornament is a little more difficult, but the abstract effect is enchanting. The ears are pine cone scales, and the antlers are twigs that come together at a point. These can be challenging to find. Look for the ones like the birds' feet but a little fatter. And you'll need four tiny twig pieces for the legs. I used a sweetgum ball with a twig (like the mouse) and painted the tip white to honor the whitetail deer that roam the forest near my home. I happened to have some tiny jingle bells and ribbon, but this is optional. The nose is a red bead.

Pinecone Snowman Skier Ornament

Pinecone Snowman Skier Ornament

6. Pinecone Snowman Skier Ornament

This little guy makes a great "baby's first Christmas ornament." The pinecone body is glued to Popsicle sticks that are painted red. The head is a white pompom with googly eyes and a bead nose. The arms are white pipe stems, and the skis are toothpicks attached to snowflake foam stickers. Make a tam from a circle of felt and a tiny pompom at the top. The neck scarf is felt. You can write the date on the bottom of one ski with a Sharpie.

Rustic Christmas Candles

Rustic Christmas Candles

7. Rustic Christmas Candle

Mason jars are popular for creating rustic candles. I found out you can make pretty glass candle holders from other jars, too, like empty olive or salsa jars. And this makes it a great recycling project at any time of the year.

These beauties used to be salsa jars! I painted on a wash of one part Elmers to one part water and sprinkled on Epsom salts lavishly. I glittered a couple of tiny pinecones and added a rustic twine tie. Rafia would also be pretty.

Glitter Candle

Glitter Candle

8. Glitter Candle

Who doesn't love a glittery candle? The light makes it sparkle so nicely. The trick is to glue-wash the inside and sprinkle the glitter there. It won't get knocked off. Add a holiday ribbon, and that's it!

Chalk Paint Candles

Chalk Paint Candles

9. Chalk Paint Candle

Chalk paint is great for giving anything a vintage look. You can buy it or make your own with acrylic paint and chalk dust. I created cardstock templates and taped them to the jars with painter's tape. These will look better if you use traditional Mason jars. Fill them halfway full of Epsom salts and add a tea light.

Bleached Pinecone Centerpiece

Bleached Pinecone Centerpiece

10. Bleached Pinecone Centerpiece

It only took a few pinecones in a woven basket to create this pretty centerpiece. Bleach a few pine cones to mix in with the natural ones. I tossed in a couple of sprayed-gold ones for a little bling.

To bleach pinecones, use one part bleach to two parts water in a bucket. Weigh them down with a few rocks. I dried mine out in a warm oven on the lowest setting.

Snow Globe Vase

Snow Globe Vase

11. Snow Globe Vase

The woods are full of pretty greens in North Georgia. For my snow globe vase, I used long-leaf pine and flaming red nandina. Nandina is a bamboo-like, invasive shrub that grows in the Southeast and the Sunbelt. At the end of the season, it displays flaming red leaves and holly-like berries perfect for the holidays.

I used a wide-mouthed Mason jar with a figurine in the bottom. My vase can be used as a snow globe after the plants fade by replacing the jar lid. Add some pixie dust glitter for the snow.

Our Little House in the Big Woods

Our Little House in the Big Woods

Comments

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 24, 2020:

Me too, they're the best. Merry Christmas!

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 24, 2020:

Thanks, Peggy, you too. Better times ahead, Merry Christmas!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 24, 2020:

I love all the rustic decorations, thanks for sharing.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 24, 2020:

These are all such cute ideas. I have used pine cones and sweetgum as holiday adornments in the past. It is fun to incorporate natural things into decorations. Wishing you a great holiday season and an even better year ahead.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 24, 2020:

Merry Christmas!

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 24, 2020:

Thanks. It was fun! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 24, 2020:

All these decorations look so beautiful, and so well made.

Thank you for sharing. Merry Christmas Rebecca to you and your family.

Rebecca Mealey (author) from Northeastern Georgia, USA on December 23, 2020:

Thanks, Linda. Merry Christmas

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 23, 2020:

I love your rustic Christmas ideas. They seem simple to make, but look so lovely, Rebecca.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on December 23, 2020:

I adore the Christmas ideas decorations from Rebecca. The ornaments are wonderful!

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