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In the past few years, natural home-made Christmas decorations have been all the rage. There is something very wholesome about using natural materials to decorate your home for the festive season, not to mention the fact that it will save you money and provide a fun activity for all the family. If you live in Hampshire, or are planning a holiday in the New Forest, there are countless opportunities to take this a step further by crafting hand-made Christmas decorations out of foraged materials. Here we share some of our favourite craft ideas from around the Internet that you could create using materials found in and around the forest. So, make yourself a nice refreshing mug of pine needle tea and get creating!

Pine cones

If you’re a dab-hand at crafts, these pine cone fairies are the perfect way to show off your skills whilst creating adorable Christmas decorations to cherish for a lifetime, made with materials found in the New Forest. The faces are made out of small wooden balls that you can find at any crafts store, whereas the wings are made from White Oak leaves – although any oak leaves will look fantastic. Use felt to sew miniature hats and arms, or use acorns. Simply use strong glue to stick it all together with some wool roving for hair and you have your very own pine cone fairies! Find out more here.

For a much more simple way of using pine cones in Christmas crafts, simply paint them gold and string them up in a garland or hang from the tree. Alternatively, you could add white paint to the tips of the needles to create the appearance of snow. Country Living suggests, “Tie individual pine cones, gilded or left plain, to ribbons of varying lengths. Suspend them from a dining room chandelier for a dramatic effect, or hang them from an outdoor porch light.”

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves are in abundance in the New Forest, and there are many ways you can use these beautifully colourful natural leaves to decorate your home for Christmas. Decorenvy recommends covering leaves in PVA glue and adding glitter in autumnal colours such as gold, copper and red. However, you could also simply leave them natural and string them in front of a window to recreate that gorgeous diffusion of warm light you get on a sunny walk through the New Forest.

For a Christmas decoration that you can use all throughout the winter months, why not make a simple autumn leaf candle holder? Simply use watered-down PVA glue to stick the leaves found in the New Forest to the outside of an empty jam jar. Once dry, place a wax or battery candle inside and see the beautiful golden glow spread.

Conkers, acorns and berries

These decorations, made by an Etsy seller, feature natural acorn caps with the glittered section made of polymer clay. However, you could very easily create the same effect with natural acorns foraged from the local woodlands. Simply paint a thick glue such as PVA on the lower part of the acorn, leave to dry for a few moments, and then dip in a coloured glitter of your choice. When dry, these can be strung up on the Christmas tree or placed in a bowl as a centrepiece.

If you’re looking for a truly unique DIY Christmas decoration that hasn’t been made a million times, head to a horse chestnut tree around the New Forest. Pick up a conker with its outer shell slightly split and then simply cover the outside in a little gold paint, leaving the inner conker natural. Then, string your new conker bauble up on the tree.

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In an article for The Telegraph, Elspeth Thompson recommends creating “a delicate garland of single seed heads (Chinese lanterns, silvered Jerusalem sage, poppies, skeleton leaves and so on) strung two or three inches apart on silver string or wire and hung above a fireplace”.

This ‘horn of plenty’ decoration brings a beautiful colour palette of festive greens and reds to your Christmas tree or hearth. Simply get some parchment or baking paper and cut it into a circle, fold it in half and make into a cone. Place some holly leaves and berries inside and hang up with twine.

Pine leaves and greenery

As Decorator’s Notebook say, “A hedgerow-foraged Christmas wreath is the perfect welcome to visitors and is fun to make at virtually no expense.” They suggest, “The foliage you use for your wreath can be as simple or exotic as you like”, so consider foraging things like fir branches, mistletoe, berries, holly and even herbs.

For a really easy addition to the Christmas dinner table, get some used cans, clean them out and remove the labels, and simply place some moss inside. This can easily be found by trees and rocks around the New Forest area. These tins make for the perfect candlestick holders with a natural yet festive charm. You could even decorate the outside of the cans with words, stars or stickers.

Branches

If there’s one thing the New Forest isn’t short of for foragers, it is branches. If you’re planning a woodland walk during your New Forest cottage holiday, take a look among the fallen leaves for some large branches that you could use to decorate with. Wrapping some fairy lights around a branch makes for a chic and simple decoration to brighten up any room.

This craft made by North Story is perfect for those with little time on their hands who are still looking for maximum festive effect. Simply collect six relatively straight branches and use superglue and string to tie them together into a star shape. Once dried, you can hang these from your Christmas tree, your door or anywhere around the house.

A tree stump centrepiece like this one by Natural Living Ideas is possibly the easiest foraged Christmas craft out there. Have a look around the local woodlands to find a thick fallen tree branch or a loose stump. Take it home and saw it into a slice, before cleaning off. Then you can simply put it in the centre of your dinner table and add any decorations such as berries, pine needles and a candle for the ultimate centrepiece.