5 Pretty Projects for Pine Cones

Photo: Roberto Verzo

This is my first year at a home with pine-cone-bearing trees. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they are the giant, picture-perfect kind that are often featured on Christmas cards (as compared to some varieties that look more like something my dog left in the front yard), and I’m eager to see how I can incorporate them into my frugal seasonal décor. Here are some of the best project ideas that I’ve discovered thus far.

To find cones, start with the conifers in your yard. By this time of year, many of the good cones may have been covered in snow, crushed by cars in the driveway, or raked up or mowed over in preparation for a winter yard. You can also ask people in your community if they know of anyone who may have some to spare. (Note: Always ask before taking cones from other’s yards or from government-owned property like parks and recreation areas.) As a last resort, pine cones can be purchased from craft stores, farmers markets, and floral shops.

Pine Cone Wreaths

My good friend Myscha thought of this one before I did, and I’m grateful for her tips! This natural-looking pine cone wreath project can be a great way to use up a large amount of cones in varying sizes and shapes. (And they don’t have to be used solely during the holidays. With a brown-and-orange color scheme, they would be appropriate to hang anytime during the fall months.)

Basket of Cones

Simple, elegant, and just right for the design impaired (like me), throwing a few handfuls of your best-looking cones into the right basket can do wonders for an empty corner table or the top of your hearth. For added flair, consider topping off the bunch with a few additional natural elements (cranberries, dried orange twists, or cinnamon sticks). If you can arrange flowers, this should be an easy task!

Glitter Cones

Fun to do and dazzling to display, the glitter cone project is a popular DIY on many websites, including Martha Stewart's. She recommends hand-painting each cone with craft glue and strategically dumping the glitter on with a spoon, but you may find a spray enamel (used in a well-ventilated area, of course) to be easier and faster for doing large batches of cones. If you find a product that incorporates the glue and the glitter in one (like Elmer’s Glitter Glue Pens), you may have more control over the where the glitter ends up. These look pretty turned into ornaments for a tree or mantle.

Bird Feeder

This is a simple project for bored kids to do on a winter day. Spread smooth peanut butter all over the pinecone (using a grilling brush might make it easier), then sprinkle bird seed all over the surface of the cone. The seed will stick, making it a perfect way to deliver the yummy treat to birds — not squirrels! Hang it from a tree off the side of your house high enough to be out of reach for curious dogs or cats.

Air Freshener

This pretty project is essentially a homemade potpourri using cones as the natural ingredient. The full tutorial for making it gives you step-by-step directions as well as a photo. Christmas lights add an extra-special touch, and the project can be done with any size glass jar for an accent that will go well with every room in your home.

Some Additional Tips for Working with Pine Cones

From About.com’s Family Craft site:

  • Bake the cones for about an hour at 200°F on a foil-lined pan to kill any bugs or mites that might be living inside.
  • To make cones close up after baking, plunge them in ice-cold water. (They will reopen once dry.)

Depending on the type of cone, they may be sharp or have spiky edges. Use care when handling, and if children are working with the pine cones, they may want to use rubber kitchen gloves or child-sized garden gloves for protection.

Pine cones are a natural, affordable way to bring the beauty of nature indoors. Even though they are usually associated with the winter holiday season, they can be incorporated into the overall look and feel of your home any time of year. Just make adjustments to the color and tone as you see fit.

How have you used pine cones to make your house a home?

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