Best Eco-Friendly DIY Christmas Ornaments

There's nothing more fun than making Christmas ornaments. (Actually, making cookies is probably better, but we digress.) Creating your own tree baubles is not only an economically sound holiday choice, but it also keeps you off the road, which means cutting back on your Yuletide CO2 emissions, per The Hill. On top of that, making ornaments is a great way to bond with friends and family because these little decorations don't have to be intricate. You can host an ornament-making party with friends and mulled wine or even have a family date night where you teach the kids about taking care of the planet and what it means to have a sustainable holiday.

Here's an idea: Maybe this year, Santa would prefer to get a homemade ornament instead of having to chow down on processed sugar bombs and whole-fat dairy. One of the best things about these eco-friendly Christmas ornaments is that they can be made with everyday items that are found in and around your home. They make great yearly mementos and can also double as gifts — and they're all super easy to make. So why not start a new tradition and make your Christmas a holly, jolly holiday for all creatures, people, and the planet?

Look to nature

By far, the easiest way to make homemade, earth-friendly Christmas tree ornaments is to not just pull inspiration from nature but to actually use nature. The best part is that once they've run their course, they're not going to hurt the planet once you need to dispose of them. These natural ornaments are 100% biodegradable, so you simply remove the hanging ribbon, string, or twine and toss the actual organic piece outside back where you found it.

The easiest organic ornament is just a pinecone tied with a string. But if you really want to get creative, Run Wild My Child has 20 different all-natural ornaments you can get inspiration from. For those living near the ocean, head down to the beach and look for seashells, beach glass, pieces of coral, or even rocks with holes in them. (That doubles as a hanging hole, no drilling required.)

Spice it up with cinnamon salt dough

Salt dough ornaments can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, writes Ornaments For Keeps. While these handmade decorations were popular throughout Europe, it was the Germans that took a liking to this traditional art form. Creating salt dough is something that anyone can do; it is completely safe for the planet and, of course, non-toxic. Cinnamon salt dough is just salt dough with cinnamon, which sounds obvious enough.

The crafting blog A Pretty Little Life writes that this simple recipe only calls for less than a handful of staple kitchen ingredients: flour, salt, water, and powdered cinnamon, which gives the ornament a nice toasted look. If you want to give these homemade clay baubles a bit more scent, then add in a few drops of essential oils, like clove, nutmeg, pumpkin spice, or whatever you want. It's your ornament, so go to town. Make sure that you have a good rolling pin and a nice assortment of holiday-themed cookie cutters. You can also use pine boughs, twigs, or other sturdy pieces of nature to imprint on the clay and give it a Christmassy texture.

Make homemade white clay

While white clay might sound the same as salt dough, it's not. Sure, it's easy to go to the store and pick up some modeling clay or air-dry clay. But this is all about DIY and sustainability, not taking the easy route. Making white clay is just as simple as salt dough, except this recipe by The Imagination Tree calls for baking soda, cornstarch, and water instead of salt, flour, and water. You'll also need to cook it on your stovetop to get all the ingredients to combine.

Once it resembles Play-Doh, let it cool down, and then you're ready to roll it out and put your holiday cookie cutters into action. Don't forget to punch a hole in the top of each ornament for a string. If you try to do that once they've been baked, your ornament will probably break. (Sad face.) Simply Sustainable Living also notes that this particular cornstarch-based clay takes little to no time to dry out. You only need to bake it in a 200°F oven for around an hour. The end result is a bright, crisp white happy ho-ho-holiday ornament that can also double as a nice little bonus gift on your sustainable Christmas present.

Dry out some fruit

Food is always an easy medium to work with because it adds a bit of warmth to your Christmas tree and doubles as a snack while you're prepping your workspace. Oranges, in particular, play a significant role in the Yuletide season, per Country Living. While there are multiple theories about the Christmas orange tradition of receiving fruit in your stocking, one thing that can be confirmed is that these fruits are said to represent prosperity and luck, as noted by Symbolism and Metaphor. Apples, on the other hand, symbolize love, knowledge, peace, and also the fall from Eden (though this forbidden fruit was never actually referred to as an "apple" in biblical literature, per Live Science).

Using dried fruit, like oranges, lemons, limes, and apples, as well as cinnamon sticks and walnuts, as noted by Deavita, are all suitable options for your Christmas tree jewelry. To dehydrate citrus fruits, Tasting With Tina says that you'll want to preheat your over to 200°F, and after removing the moisture with paper towels, place them on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. You can even use cookie cutters to make citrusy-shaped ornaments. Just don't forget to poke a hole in the tops, so you can string them up and show off your festive fruit-gem ornaments.

Upcycle old items

Nothing sings sustainability like ornaments made with upcycled items. If you're wondering what exactly upcycling is, it's basically giving a second life to objects that are considered donatable or even destined for the trash, says Upcycle That, a blog specializing in all things upcycling. Typically, the item being upcycled ends up serving a completely different function and also increases in value. By saving these questionable items from fermenting in a landfill, you're doing your part in the fight for Mother Earth. That kind of makes you feel warm and fuzzy, just like the holidays.

Using things around your home that are headed towards donation, like mugs or teacups, per Petticoat Junktion, or even old scraps of ribbon and a twig from outside (via Fireflies & Mud Pies), are all perfect when it comes to upcycling. Pillar Box Blue even totes that you can use paper, old tins, and cardboard to create imaginative tree baubles that will not only impress your guests but also prove that you're championing the planet.