7 Natural Decor Pieces For A Low-Waste Winter

Creating a cozy atmosphere at home is arguably one of the best parts of winter. As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, we’re invited to welcome warmth and light into our homes, savor the seasonal flavors, and slow down to spend time with loved ones. And what better way to do that than with DIY winter decor?

festive winter decor for a low waste holiday

The emphasis here is on natural: it’s important to be especially mindful of the waste we produce during the holiday season. According to Stanford, Americans throw out 25 million tons of garbage between Thanksgiving and New Year’s alone. That's an additional million tons per week when compared to the rest of the year.

That shouldn’t keep you from living your best life during winter, though, so we have some low-waste decor ideas to spruce up the holiday season. Check them out:

1. Dried orange garlands

dried orange garland wreath by Korie HeroldPhoto from Korie Herold

Dried orange garlands add a gorgeous pop of color to any room — as well as an invigorating scent. They’re super simple to make, too. Preheat the oven to 225º F, then line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper. Slice oranges about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick and place them in a single layer on the cookie sheets. (Pro tip: blot them with a towel to speed up the drying process).

Bake the orange slices for three hours. You can flip them over about halfway through to get a nice, even color on both sides. Thread a fishing line through a needle and poke it through the flesh of the oranges, not the rind. That’s it! Place your garland on a handrail, across a table, or on a headboard.

2. Pine cone garlands

This is an especially fun activity to do with kids. Head to the woods (or your local park) and collect as many pine cones as possible. You can make them look frosted by coating them in modge-podge and glitter, paint them, or leave them as is. Simply hot glue them onto a ribbon and string around the house for festive decor.

3. Essential oil candles

slow north orange + clove candle

Nothing says “warm and cozy” quite like the soft glow of a candle. Spicy, aromatic scents like Orange + Clove invite a festive holiday mood into the house.

4. Origami stars

Do you have origami paper or even old wrapping paper lying around? You can create sweet little stars by following this easy five-step tutorial. These stars look the same on both sides, so they’re ideal for hanging in windows, on a Christmas tree, or anywhere else you could use a little starlight!

5. Festive candle holders

pine branch bottle holder winter decor by TraumzuhausePhoto from Traumzuhause

I’m obsessed with this easy candle holder project from German blogger Traumzuhause. All you need are white glass bottles (a white wine bottle will do, or you can grab a bottle from IKEA), white candles, and a pine twig. Fill the bottle up to the neck with water, stick the twig inside, and then pop the candle on top. It’s chic, gorgeous, and brings a festive winter spirit to the home!

6. Popcorn garlands

Popcorn garlands are a low-waste winter classic. Make some popcorn the way you like (just skip the salt and butter), then leave it out to dry for a day or two. Take a large piece of thread or fishing line, attach a needle to the end, and push the needle through each popcorn kernel.

7. Rustic winter centerpiece

rustic winter centerpiece

Try making your own rustic winter centerpiece if you’re feeling particularly crafty. You can use pine twigs, pine cones, poinsettias, cranberries, birchwood…whatever strikes your fancy! And don’t forget to put a candle in the middle.

These DIY decorations also make great handmade gift ideas. If you do end up gifting one of your creations, be sure to wrap it in sustainable wrapping, too!

Cecilia Seiter
Cecilia is a freelance writer and contributor to Slow North. She writes largely about sustainability, especially as it applies to beauty, wellness, and the future of technology. She is a graduate of the journalism department at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is based in Oakland, CA.