homemade natural christmas decorations

How to make dried oranges and other natural Christmas decorations

We don’t have masses of decorations around our house at Christmas, mostly because the OH is a bit of a Bah humbug about Christmas. But also because it’s a lot of time and effort when it all comes down after about 2 weeks. But I do enjoy making the occasional homemade decoration and this year I’ve been trying a few different garlands to hang around the place.

Last year I dried oranges for my first homemade wreath  – they got eaten and pecked by the birds straight away – but wanted to make some more this year and use them for natural decorations.  I don’t think they’ll go on our tree which is all silver, purple and teals. But they’ll be nice strung up above the hearth against the wooden sleeper, and in the kitchen hanging from the shelf above the aga with some fairy lights.

The dried oranges will also look great with plain wrapping paper alongside twine and simple luggage style gift tags. I still have years of purchased wrapping paper to get through – now the nephews and niece are older they don’t get presents that need wrapping, it’s all vouchers or money. So it’s taking a long time to use the rolls up.

So if you’re looking to have a simpler rustic style decor and wrapping this year, why not try making some of these natural decorations.

How to dry oranges

dried orange slices

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If you have a dehydrator machine you can use one of those. But an oven on a very low temperature will do fine to make dried oranges. You can also dry other citrus fruits, or apples. 

1, Preheat the oven to a low temperature. 70-150C is fine. The lower, the longer it takes, but the less they’re likely to burn. Slow is good.

2, Line baking sheets with baking or greaseproof paper.

3, Thinly slice oranges or other citrus fruits, pat dry with kitchen towel to soak up some of the juice. Then lay the slices on the baking sheets. 

close up on sliced clementines for drying

4, Bake in the oven, turning the slices over regularly. (mine were in the simmering oven of the aga, so very low temperature, and I turned them every 30 mins or so until I forgot. They were in for about 6 hours.

drying out sliced oranges and lemon slices

5, Remove from the oven once the flesh is dried out. Cool on the trays, then store in an airtight container until needed.

Grapefruit, lime, lemons, satsumas, clementines etc all work well, but lemons and limes do burn and darken faster than oranges. Apple slices can also be dried. For all of them you need to slice horizontally to get the segments showing, or the star shape of the apple core. Apples will need much less time – don’t slice too thinly as they can stick to the paper a bit and are more fragile than oranges.

apple slices for drting
dried apple slices for decorations

Natural Christmas decoration ideas

Use florists wire or needle and thread to stick through the orange to add to garlands or tie. Some can be really brittle and break easily, so treat them carefully. 

dried orange and snowflake decoration

For citrus garlands you can thread several along a wire with other natural or wooden shapes, fir cones or Christmassy foods, like cranberries or popcorn. 

Citrus fruit wall hangings – threat several rows of citrus fruits, then hang each threat from a twig or branch, to use as a wall hanging. Alternative hang them from a coil of wire or wreath base, add fairy lights and use as a ‘chandelier’ or ‘mobile’ style hanging from the ceiling

Cinnamon sticks – bundle cinnamon sticks in groups of 3 with ribbon or twine and use as decorations on the tree or add to a wreath.  I also added a dried orange slice to add some extra colour.

cinnamon and dried orange decoration

Decorate a candle – Take a white or red pillar candle, and stand cinnamon sticks around the outside, then tie around the bundle with twine or a ribbon to create a pretty candle – makes a lovely gift that a child could make for their teacher.

If you’ve winter greenery, why not add dried oranges and cinnamon sticks to a homemade greenery candle table decoration,

cinnamon stick bundle decoration

Popcorn or cranberry strings – I wanted to try using cranberries for a garland this year, but could only find dried cranberries. If you get hold of some fresh ones, why not thread a needle and thread a strand on cranberries or popcorn, for an old fashioned tree garland.

Twig stars – find some small twigs and tie them into star shapes – or use a glue gun.

Stamp out Christmas star ‘confetti’. If you peel oranges and dry out the peel on a low heat in the oven, you can punch out shapes. These can be used for tree decorations by adding string through a hole, or if small shapes, sprinkle them over the dinner table as extra decoration.

Clove spiked oranges – If you want to get smells as well as visual decorations, then studding an orange with whole cloves will add to the Christmas scents. Add them to a pretty basket or bowl with greenery for a decorative display.

Ribbon tied greenery – For table place settings on napkins, take a sprig of fir, holly, ivy or other greenery, and tie with a ribbon. Hand a name place setting off, or add mini bells for a bit of bling.

Decorate wood slices – if you’re handy with pyrography or artistic with paint, try decorating large wood slices to place by the front door or by the fireplace. Or you can buy mini wood slices*, and decorate those – with Christmas designs or just patterns. Buy with a pre-drilled hole, or add one, then hang on the Christmas tree, or again use as a place setting by adding names.

Garlands using wooden shapes. I’ve already shared my metallic wooden circle garland, but I bought some wooden cut out snowflakes set earlier in the year, and used the same technique to create a snowflake garland. I think mine were from The Works, but the garland worked out really well, just using a glue gun to stick them on the string.

wooden snowflakes for crafts in a box
wooden snowflakes garland

More natural materials can look great as Christmas decorations and are really versatile in their use.

What natural decorations have you made?

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homemade natural christmas decorations

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