Green decorating

Marissa Hermanson | Boulder Weekly

More than 28 million Christmas trees were chopped down and decorated in U.S. households during last year’s holiday season, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Some say that is 28 million trees too many! This year, give something back to our environment by not chopping down a Christmas tree. There are many ways to decorate using natural elements found in your home and yard this holiday season.

Instead of heading out to the tree farm with axe in hand, use your potted ficus or large houseplant as a tree replacement. Or a topiary might be more your style. A household plant is the tree that keeps giving, year-round. Another tree replacement: gather fallen birch branches (or branches from whatever tree is in your yard) and place them in a tall glass vase. Fill the bottom with river rocks, evergreen sprigs, cinnamon sticks, pinecones and cranberries and hang homemade ornaments from the branches. This birch branch ensemble is also an ideal table centerpiece.

Organic ornaments add a cozy feeling to your tree. Make twig stars out of small branches found around your yard. Using a hot glue gun, glue three twigs together to create a triangle. Do this again so that you have two twig triangles. Then glue the two triangles in opposite directions, one on top of the other, and behold — a twig star. Pine cones hung using a natural twine, like raffia, add an outdoorsy touch as well.

You can also make yummy ornaments. Decorated holiday cookies make a delicious ornament. Or, using a needle and thread you can create your own garland out of cranberries and/or popcorn. (Note: Make sure you haven’t eaten the ornaments off your tree by the time Dec. 25 rolls around.)

Your front door also needs some greening. A homemade wreath can be made out of a wire coat hanger and natural elements. Shape the coat hanger into a circle and tie sprigs of evergreen to the frame. Using a hot glue gun, you can add moss, berries, fruit, nuts, pinecones, dried eucalyptus and magnolia leaves, as well as other scented greens.

Create centerpieces for your dining table or entryway table using edibles that can be eaten at a later date. Arrange squash, red and green pears, apples, citrus and pomegranates in a basket or bowl. Also, a bowl of shelled nuts and acorns is a tasty treat to have out on display. Another centerpiece idea (this one is indigestible, sorry): take a small mirror and place it in the middle of your dining table. Arrange beeswax candles in the middle of the mirror and scatter sprigs of evergreen, citrus rinds, cranberries and small pinecones around the candles.

For table settings, use pinecones as placecard holders.

Placecards can be made out of last year’s recycled holiday greeting cards. Use raffia or other natural twine as napkin rings for your organic cotton napkins. Tuck a cinnamon stick and magnolia leaf under the twine. Voila!