The holiday season is a magical time filled with joy, togetherness, and celebration. Many families have treasured traditions that help make the season special. From baking cookies to decorating the tree, these rituals remind us to slow down and appreciate the real meaning behind the holidays.

In recent years, many people have become more conscious about living green and reducing their carbon footprint. The holidays generate an enormous amount of waste from discarded packaging and travel. However, with some creativity and care, they can be just as festive while also being gentler on the environment. This article will explore ways to decorate your home in an organic, sustainable way this holiday season.

Rethink the Christmas Tree

The centerpiece of most holiday decor is the evergreen Christmas tree. Over 32 million live trees are sold in the U.S. every year. While some are sustainably farmed, others are heavily sprayed with chemicals and pesticides. After the holidays, the trees are discarded, contributing to landfill waste.

Here are some eco-friendly options for your holiday tree:

  • Buy a live potted tree. Look for potted firs or pines that can be replanted after the holidays. Nurseries and garden centers often sell these “root ball” trees. Place your tree inside a pretty basket or wrap the pot in burlap or fabric.
  • Get a live tree with roots. Dig a trench in your yard and place a balled-and-burlapped tree into it for the holidays. After, replant it in your landscape.
  • Rent a replanted tree. Some tree farms will rent you a tree and then replant it on their farm after you return it.
  • Choose an artificial tree. Buying one high-quality artificial tree that lasts 10+ years is more eco-friendly than buying several real trees. Look for ones made with recycled materials.
  • Make your own tree. Get creative and make a “tree” from branches, wreaths, or other natural materials. Add strung lights or ornaments for decoration.

Natural Tree Stand and Skirt Alternatives

Instead of using a plastic stand or tree skirt filled with chemicals, opt for an organic alternative:

  • Place your tree in a galvanized metal bucket filled with sand or stones to anchor it.
  • Make a burlap tree skirt by cutting an old burlap sack into a tree shape. You can fringe the edges for a rustic look.
  • Use a tree stand made of sustainable or recycled materials like solid wood, concrete, or iron.
  • Cut a tree skirt out of vintage fabric like linens or quilts to wrap around the base.

Nature-Inspired Ornaments

Ornaments are an essential part of holiday decor. But most are made of plastic and end up discarded every year. Embrace nature by making your own organic ornaments this season.

Dried citrus slices – Slice oranges, lemons, limes, or grapefruit into rounds. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters if desired. Dry the slices in the oven or air dry them over several weeks. Add ribbon for hanging.

Cinnamon sticks – Simple yet fragrant, these make perfect tiny trees on their own or bundled together.

Pinecones – Large pinecones can be left natural, spray-painted white or metallic colors, or decoupaged with scrapbook paper or fabric. Tie on string, raffia, or burlap for hanging.

Acorns and seed pods – Spray paint plain acorns white or metallic for a twist. Maple seed pods (helicopters), lotus seed pods, and flower pods make interesting shapes to hang on the tree.

Popcorn and cranberry garlands – String popped popcorn and dried cranberries on thread for an old-fashioned and biodegradable garland.

Felt or salt dough ornaments – Get the kids involved in making ornaments from wool felt shapes or salt dough sculpted into shapes. Let harden completely before decorating.

Wooden discs – Paint plain wood circles or wood cookie slices with chalkboard paint. Use chalk to write names, dates, or holiday greetings on each. Drill holes for hanging with ribbon.

Natural Decor for Mantels and Shelves

Fireplace mantels and bookshelves are the perfect spot to add organic holiday flair. Avoid plastic-filled store-bought decor items with these DIY ideas:

  • Arrange winter greenery like pine, cedar, magnolia leaves, holly, eucalyptus, and fir sprigs in vases or bundles.
  • Make a mini tree from fresh rosemary or other herbs and wire on tiny ornaments.
  • Stack real wood logs or birch pieces for texture and scent.
  • Place pinecones of mixed sizes in a ceramic bowl. Spray paint them white or silver for a touch of glam.
  • Display winter vegetables like mini pumpkins, gourds, or dried peppers piled in baskets.
  • Tuck in holiday plants like poinsettias, cyclamen, Christmas cactus, or amaryllis.
  • Make a holiday terrarium filled with moss, mini pinecones, and twinkle lights. Decorate the glass container with burlap, lace, or fabric.
  • Arrange candles of different heights and sizes for warmth. Use battery-operated candles for safety.
  • Make a garland with cinnamon sticks and dried apple slices strung onto natural baker’s twine.

Eco-Friendly Holiday Centerpieces

Holiday meals shine with a gorgeous organic centerpiece as the focal point. Skip the plastic throwaways and create a meaningful one with natural materials. Here are some ideas:

  • Place tall candles in mercury glass votives or colored glass holders. Surround with greenery, fruit slices, or pine sprigs.
  • Use a round mirror or platter as a base. Arrange winter greens, pinecones, and pomegranates around pillar candles in the center.
  • Float cranberries, slices of citrus, and evergreen sprigs in a glass bowl or vase full of water. Place floating candles in the center.
  • Stack rounds of birch logs with mini pumpkins and pinecones placed in the holes. Pillar candles go in the center.
  • Place fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme, and lavender in a ceramic vase. Surround with pomegranates, persimmons, or citrus slices.
  • Use a terrarium filled with moss and succulents. Surround with pinecones, acorns, or other elements from nature. Place twinkle lights inside.

Give Gifts from the Garden

Exchange meaningful holiday gifts by repurposing materials found in nature:

  • Make flavored salts or sugars from dried citrus peels, herbs, vanilla, cinnamon sticks, and edible flowers. Package the blends in jars wrapped with raffia and tags.
  • Blend essential oils like pine or cinnamon with a carrier oil. Pour into pretty glass bottles to make scented oils.
  • Brew herbal tea blends with cinnamon sticks, dried cranberries, cloves, and orange slices tied in muslin bags.
  • Create potpourri with pinecones, dried orange slices, cloves, cinnamon sticks, and pine needles placed in jars or sachets.
  • Wrap homemade baked goods like breads, cookies, or cakes in linen tea towels or beeswax wrap. Use raffia for tie-on gift tags.
  • Fill burlap or linen bags with garden items like fresh herbs, bulbs, seeds, small pots, gloves, or tools. This makes a perfect gardener’s gift set.

Containers from the Cupboard

Before buying new packaging and containers, look around the house for items that can be repurposed:

  • Place gifts or baked goods inside vintage tins, baskets, ceramic canisters, or jars. Leave uncovered or tie on fabric toppers.
  • Use hand towels, linen napkins, scraps of fabric, or doilies to top containers. Secure with jute, a rubber band, or fabric ribbon.
  • Wrap gifts creatively in newspaper, butcher paper, brown kraft paper, or old book pages. Use twine or raffia to tie and make cloth tags.
  • Instead of bows, top gifts with cinnamon sticks, sprigs of rosemary, slices of dried citrus, a sprig of fresh herbs, or other organic materials.
  • Cut branches from the yard into smaller pieces. Use to make mini wreaths that can adorn baked goods or other homemade food gifts.

Natural Holiday Table Setting

Set a beautiful holiday table with organic and sustainable decor:


  • Use linen napkins in seasonal colors like deep green, cream, and red. Fold in creative shapes.
  • Make napkin rings by tying raffia, twine, or ribbon around cinnamon sticks or rosemary sprigs.
  • Cut rounds from a fallen tree trunk to use as natural place card holders.

Add Greenery

  • Use evergreen sprigs, magnolia leaves, or holly as part of a runner.
  • Make mini wreaths to place at each setting by wiring greenery to cinnamon sticks.
  • Tuck fresh herbs into napkin rings and around the table. Try rosemary, lavender, thyme, or sage.


  • In the center, float greenery and sliced oranges in a glass bowl with floating candles.
  • Place taper candles in vintage candlesticks down the table.
  • Surround groupings of votives at each place setting with pinecones and acorns.

Natural Touches

  • Use pinecones to hold down napkins.
  • Attach sprigs of rosemary and cinnamon sticks to chargers or placemats.
  • Tie bundles of dried spices like cinnamon sticks, whole nutmeg, and star anise to place cards.

Invites from Nature

Handcrafted holiday party invites set the organic tone from the start. Make your own from foraged or recycled materials:

  • Cut birch bark or rounds of fallen tree branches into rectangular card shapes. Use a woodburning tool to add designs and wording.
  • Print or handwrite details on recycled cardstock or scrapbook paper. Wrap around a cinnamon stick and tie with natural twine.
  • Glue pressed leaves or flower petals onto recycled cardstock. Add your party particulars with calligraphy-style writing.
  • Stamp or print details onto brown kraft paper. Cut into squares and tie with twine. Affix a sprig of rosemary or thyme.
  • Print invitation text on full-size vintage seed packets. Fill with pinecones, acorns, or dried flowers instead of seeds.
  • Cut birch bark into long, narrow tags. Use a woodburning tool to add invite text to both sides. String onto twine.

Wrap Gifts Naturally

Part of the holiday magic is unwrapping presents. With some imagination, you can create beautiful gift wraps that are gentler on the planet:

  • Wrap small gifts in burlap bags or pouches. Decorate with burlap flowers, greenery, raffia, or fabric scraps.
  • Cut up vintage saris or scarves to make colorful reusable gift wrap. Finish edges with blanket stitch.
  • Wrap gifts in recycled paper decorated with potato stamps or leaf and flower rubbings. Use twine for ties.
  • Cover gifts in newspaper or brown kraft paper. Use wooden clothespins to attach sprigs of rosemary and cinnamon sticks.
  • Wrap square gifts in recycled fabric scraps tied with cotton string or ribbon. Make gift tags from pressed leaves or flower petals.
  • For round gifts, wrap in shredded paper inside a colander or wire basket. Remove paper before giving.


With some creativity and care, you can decorate in an eco-friendly way this holiday season. Look to nature for inspiration for ornaments, gifts, and decor. Repurpose materials already on hand whenever possible. Follow these organic and sustainable ideas for holiday trimmings that are gentler on the environment yet still fully celebratory of the festive season.