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How to Score a Free Christmas Tree – and Other Sustainable Decorating Hacks

By on November 17, 2022 0
Beachcomber Christmas trees save space and create fantastic shapes when lit.

Danni bear/stuff

Beachcomber Christmas trees save space and create fantastic shapes when lit.

There’s a lot to love about Christmas, like twinkling lights, nativity scenes, cheesy Christmas scrapbooks, and taking time to reconnect and celebrate the season with friends and family. The aftermath of the festivities isn’t all that special – think trash cans full of empty wrappers, sticky broken trinkets and other plastic detritus.

For a waste-free treasure, use wild pine, cinnamon, dried orange and more for natural, handmade decorations that look great and smell even better.

The lead up to Christmas can often be very busy, but if you can make the time, a simple craft project is a chance to relax and engage with the more meaningful aspects of the season.

Want a free tree? We love the Christmas smell of conifers, such as cedars, pines, firs, cypresses, larches and spruces. They may look and smell great, but you might be surprised to learn that they are not native to Aotearoa and have become New Zealand’s worst pest plants in the wild. Cut down or dig up a wild pine this Christmas, and you’ll pocket a free tree while doing our native birds and trees a huge favor.

READ MORE:
* Watch: Oh ho, ho, NO! Huge Christmas baubles break free and wreak havoc on a busy London street
* 20 simple Christmas craft ideas to try this festive season
* How to get rid of your Christmas tree without it ending up in the landfill
* Marlborough Sounds hotspot for the Wilding Pines project

If the challenge of cutting down an entire tree is a bit too difficult, try cutting a few branches with pruners or loppers and use them to make wreaths or table and mantel decorations.

Collect some natural materials for your handmade Christmas decorations, such as recycled jars, paper, pine boughs, dried oranges and spices.

Sarah Heeringa / Stuff

Collect some natural materials for your handmade Christmas decorations, such as recycled jars, paper, pine boughs, dried oranges and spices.

In search of wild pines

Watch out for wild pines popping up in the sand dunes or on the side of the road. First introduced in the 1880s, pines have escaped from commercial forests, parklands and agricultural shelterbelts and now appear as invasive weeds in nature across the country, damaging native ecosystems, using precious and invading water some of our most beloved and iconic. landscapes.

When looking for food, always follow the rules of the road and take extra care when leaving the road to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Only take wild pines from public land (not farmland or a managed recreational park).

Wild pines are harmful trees.  Cut one as a free Christmas tree or for branches to use as decorations.

Sarah Heeringa / Stuff

Wild pines are harmful trees. Cut one as a free Christmas tree or for branches to use as decorations.

Small conifer seedlings can be pulled by hand or dug out of the ground with a spade. Medium-sized conifers can be cut with loppers or a handsaw. Use small branches to make wreaths for table and mantel decorations.

Cut colored or plain paper into stars and thread a garland using a needle and thread or a sewing machine.

Sarah Heeringa / Stuff

Cut colored or plain paper into stars and thread a garland using a needle and thread or a sewing machine.

Pine cones and paper garlands

Pine cones are ready-to-use natural Christmas decorations. Conifers grow pinecones and spread their wild seeds in the wind, so with the landowner’s permission, you can harvest as many as you want, guilt-free.

Use colorful twine to hang a string along a wall, above a door frame, or as tree ornaments. A favorite craft twine is Trade Aid’s range of fair trade hemp twines. Left Natural, you can throw unpainted pine cones into the brazier in the garden.

Driftwood thicket and fallen branches of Christmas trees

Another clever and cost-effective tree is one assembled using sticks found on walks on the beach or in a park.

Kiwi maker Danni Bear made the tree (pictured above) using sticks from a local beach, cut to length and tied together with macrame cord. Once secured in place, Bear twisted string lights around the sticks and added some favorite decorations. Work done!

This simple tree was made with sticks tied together with recycled wire before being decorated with fairy lights and homemade soda dough hearts and stars.

Sarah Heeringa / Stuff

This simple tree was made with sticks tied together with recycled wire before being decorated with fairy lights and homemade soda dough hearts and stars.

Hearts and stars in salt dough and soda

Salt or soda dough is easy to make using basic ingredients at home. Once formed, shape the dough into hearts and stars or cut them out using cookie cutters. Spread the paste on old lace or netting to create interesting textured designs. Air dry and hang with a yarn or sturdy thread.

Recycled jars and garlands

Seed lamps turn old pots into beautiful glowing orbs. Save the large jars and soak their labels. Insert the lights, screw on the lid and flip it over to create a festive atmosphere. Turn on the seed lights for an instant Christmas atmosphere.

Glowing mason jar lights.  If possible, buy solar string lights or recycle the batteries once used.

Sarah Heeringa / Stuff

Glowing mason jar lights. If possible, buy solar string lights or recycle the batteries once used.

Whenever possible, use solar or electric plug-in lights Collect all used fairy lights batteries and search online for local hardware stores and other e-waste collection points.