Decorating for the winter holidays doesn’t have to mean a trip to a big box store. Keep cost and waste down by adorning your home with seasonal elements that can be composted, upcycled, or even recycled at the end of the season. From branches and boughs to repurposed pinecones, here are a few green ways to transform your living space this holiday season.

1.  Cranberries for the win

Beloved as a quintessential Thanksgiving table staple, fresh cranberries are available in most produce markets well into December, and they offer a surprising number of beautiful, color-saturated possibilities when it comes to natural holiday decor. For a pretty pop of color on your holiday table, try filling a hurricane lamp, glass jar, or other tall, cylindrical vase half full with fresh cranberries. Add water (cranberries float, so use as many or as few as you like) and top with a few simple evergreen boughs for a simple, beautiful and economical tabletop or mantle decoration. For a snowier effect, fill a glass container one-quarter of the way full with Epsom or other coarse salt, and then top with cranberries and/or other winter greenery.

2. Evergreens, everywhere

Fresh, winter greenery abounds in December. Save your evergreen clippings and repurpose them into a swag, wreath, or garland. Use floral or craft wire to secure your greenery and shape it anyway you see fit (like a peace sign wreath fashioned out of some cypress clippings, for example). It’s also fun to incorporate other natural elements into your garland think twigs, ornamental leaves, pinecones, tiny fruits and berries, or even a few pink or red peppercorn sprigs.

3.  Gorgeous garlands

Popcorn and cranberries are classic DIY garland materials (we like stringing those with waxed dental floss and a sewing needle), but there are a ton of other possibilities. Coffee filters strung together on a bit of yarn make amazing, full, and surprisingly beautiful “flower” garlands (use the basket-shaped ones for the best effect). While it’s possible to use natural dyes on these (beet juice, anyone?), the simplicity of the unbleached white filter is hard to beat. Make an oversized garland to weave around your staircase banister or drape over an entryway and prepare to tell everyone exactly how you did it (inquiring minds will want to know).

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4. More ways with mason jars

The mason jar revival is showing no signs of slowing. Perk up a tabletop or kitchen shelf with an “edible” mason jar terrarium. We like ours with a mix of cocoa and pretzel “dirt” and shredded coconut “snow.” Or you could even use springs of rosemary or other fresh herbs to sub as plant life. The possibilities are kind of endless. Got more jars? Turn them over (lid-side down) and you’ve got a DIY snow globe situation happening.

5. An aromatic abode

Forget expensive and chemical-laden plug-ins and candles. The well-appointed holiday home should smell as good as it looks and it’s easy to get there naturally. We love the classic elegance of a spiced, orange pomander ball (a fresh orange or mandarin pierced with fresh cloves). Or save on costly scent diffusers by making your own. Use bamboo skewers, a narrow glass jar, and a mix of your favorite essential oils (we like clove, cinnamon, or pine for holiday vibes) as an inexpensive and aromatic alternative.

With just a little care and creativity this holiday season, you can spread cheer, save money, and help spare the landfill. And once it’s all decorated, make sure your home is protected with quality homeowners coverage. Get a quote today.

Happy holidays to all!

DIY hacks | Home and garden

about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.