Last year I’ve collected a bunch of pine cones for DIY Christmas decorations :) Little did I know that it will take forever, well actually, at least few days to clean and prepare them to be used. This year, however, I was so happy to pull them out of the storage room – shiny and pretty, all ready to brighten up our apartment this holiday season. If preserved correctly, you can use them for 3-5 years without them getting brittle.
If you are like me and TERRIFIED of any bugs and critters, then prepare to get your hands dirty. Fresh pine cones will have many (and I mean MANY) bugs hidden inside. Truth be told I didn’t think about it at all. I brought the bag of pine cones from outside, dumped them all into bathroom sink to wash later, and went to make dinner. When I came back half an hour later I screamed like crazy because my pristine bathroom had become overpopulated with every existing bug from a biology book, YUCK!!!
So here are the steps how to de-crittefy ( eh? :) ) your pine cones before using for decor.
- Dump pine cones in a large bucket (put the bucket in the bathtub for an easier clean up), fill with warm water and 1 cup of white vinegar for every 2 L of water. Check back in half an hour – all of the bugs should have now surfaced. Change the water and this time make a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 5 L of water and leave the pines cones in this solution overnight. If you add too much bleach pine cones may lose colour and turn white.
- After the clean up, wash them with plenty of water before proceeding. Lay your oven rack with aluminium foil and bake/dry the pine cones in the over at 200 C for 20 mins. Your house will smell (some may not like it!) as the leftover sap starts to melt. Bake them in small batches to not overcrowd. DO NOT leave unattended while in the oven!!! After you’ve gone through all of the cones, let them cool down. After the oven cooled down as well make sure to wipe down the bottom part and the rack just to be sure everything is clean and bug free :)
- Spray the pine cones with clear acrylic spray (I suggest doing this on the balcony or outside). I sprayed some of mine with a silver acrylic spray to make DIY Christmas tree ornaments or simply hang them on the tree. Wait for the first coat to air dry and then do one more coat.
- TA-DA! Once they are dried and shiny, let you imagination run wild and use the pine cones to decorate your house. To store after holidays – put pine cones in an airtight container or zip-lock bag. Leave as less air in the bag as possible – this will prevent them from getting brittle.
Here are some examples of how to use them:
- Add pine cones to potpourri in vases or decorative baskets – see picture below.
- Use them for DIY Christmas wreath (or add to a store-brought one) – see picture below.
- Fill a tall glass vase – alternate pine cones with ornaments or Christmas lights
- Use as Christmas tree ornaments (after all, they really DO belong on the tree :)
- Make a small tree out of pine cones by gluing them on a styrofoam cone – start with larger ones at the bottom and finish with the tiniest ones on the top. Then decorate as you want. Or not :) See picture below.