Creating Your Own Traditions: DIY Pinecone Ornaments

Bring the beauty of nature indoors with these easy to make ornaments.

When my brother was small, he and my mother would spend months scanning the roadside for the perfect tree. One that was a little wild, perfectly unkempt. On a clear December night lit only with stars, they’d toss the handsaw into the back seat of the family Westfalia and embark to claim their prize: Our family Christmas tree, stolen from the side of a rural Maine road by a boy and his mother clad all in black. Of course, not every cherished holiday tradition involves light thieving (I’d argue some of the best ones do, though), and for as long as I can remember one of my favorites has been gathering bits of nature to decorate with for the season. Gold painted river stones hung next to handmade wax icicles, glitter-dusted pinecones glimmered against sparkling white lights; the decor chosen by my family always felt real, an authentic appreciation for what nature is able to provide if you only pay attention.

When it came time to begin my own collection of ornaments, I resisted the urge to purchase them new. Instead, over the years I’ve allowed the trimmings of the season to join my collection organically and now my grandmother’s 1940’s glass globes swing adjacent to hand crafted stars and a garland made by my sister. Lately though, I’ve felt the pull once again towards those decorations that are naturally beautiful, straight from the earth. Blame it on a bout of holiday-induced homesickness, blame it on too much city living, but this was on my mind last week as I walked home on the darkened streets of Philadelphia. No pine trees in sight, no birch bark fallen to the ground, no smooth river stones to stash in a pocket…and then I saw it: an impossibly perfect, fat pinecone sitting in the middle of the sidewalk, waiting. I picked it up and looked to find its source…and there, in the middle of urban Philadelphia, was a small grove of four or five red pine trees extending their branches towards me. Pinecones littering the ground. I stashed several in my pocket, resisted the urge to grab even more, and made my way home, thoughts of glitter and gold paint running through my head.

Today I’m sharing the steps for creating these sweet nature-made decorations. They’re incredibly simple to create and look beautiful against any kind of holiday decor. Read on for the steps…

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DIY Woodland Ornaments


Pine cones

Gold spray paint

Clear drying glue


Small finishing nails

Thin wire

Heavy duty scissors or wire snips


Optional: Embroidery thread

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To make glitter-dusted pinecones, brush a small amount of glue onto the top of the cone’s fronds. Sprinkle on a bit of glitter and tap off the excess. Allow the glue to dry thoroughly before moving on to the next steps

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To make the gold cones, in a well-ventilated area, spray the cones thoroughly with metallic spray paint. Allow to dry thoroughly. Add glitter using the steps above, if desired.

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To add hangers, grip a pinecone firmly in one hand while using the hammer to tap a finishing nail into the top center of the pinecone. Use the scissors or wire snips to cut a 6″ piece of wire. Wrap it tightly around the base of the nail, then loop the ends around each other.

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To add a tassel, tie a few lengths of embroidery thread around the base of the nail. Cut ends to the same length, dip ends into the glue, and then dip into the loose glitter. Allow to dry before hanging on your tree.

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+ What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Please share in the comments!

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  1. I’m looking forward to making handmade Christmas ornaments this year and I’ll be sure to make some glitter pine cone ones! Thanks for the DIY tutorial! They are beautiful.

  2. I love using nature as decor. I have pinecones that I’ve collected from vacation trips, scattered on a desk around candles. I’m definitely gonna be giving this diy a try. I’ve been in the mood this year to make my own Christmas ornaments. I currently have some snowflakes I made out of clothes pins. Last year I made stars out of Popsicle sticks and then wrapped them with twine.

  3. How utterly lovely! I’m all about making this year, so this tutorial came just in time.

    As for favorite traditions, my family’s tree tradition is dear to my heart. When my little sister was a baby, my parents were afraid she’d pull a real tree down on herself, so my dad cut one out of fine art paper for our living room wall. A friend came by and commented on the inventiveness and asked if he could make a decoration to stick on it. Since then, it’s been almost two decades of Christmas parties where we ask our friends to make paper decorations for our tree! It’s fun, friendly, and we have new masterpieces every year. Good for anyone in cities with little house space! xx

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