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Homemade Christmas Decorations Using Citrus Fruits & Spices

Do you like your holiday decor au naturel? Well then, this inspiration for homemade natural Christmas decorations using fruits & spices is for you. You'll find tips to make it easy & better.

a silver tray for holiday decor is full of spice adorned citrus fruits, evergreen & rosemary springs & cranberries

Shiny, sparkling Christmas decorations are certainly eye-catching and the stores are full of them at this time of year. I love me some holiday bling but natural is oh so appealing too. If you want an easy idea for homemade natural Christmas decorations (which also smells good!),  look no further. All you need to do is gather some citrus fruits and whole spices and you’ll be well on your way to a festive table or mantle decor.

I grew up in the charming New England countryside in a very small town in Connecticut’s Litchfield County. This was long before the days of the internet and television with over 1000 channels to entertain and keep us fixated. I played outside year round and did a lot of crafting to keep myself amused. This was 1 of the projects that I’d do every Christmas to use as a centerpiece and also to give as gifts to the neighbors.

a grey tabby cat named Riley is sniffing a tray of citrus fruit adorned with spices evergreen branches pine cones and cranberries sits on a coffee table

Riley cat checking out the finished product. It was hard to keep him out of this picture so I’d say he approves!

This isn’t a step by step DIY but more of an inspiration to give you ideas. It’s pretty self-explanatory but I do want to give you a few tips to make it easier and of course more beautiful. Years ago I owned a commercial Christmas decorating business in San Francisco and used a lot of glitters and shine to make those decorations really pop in lobbies and large spaces. I still love some serious Christmas sparkle but natural touches thrown in here and there make me happy.

2 clementine cuties with star anise on the top sit on a cutting board next to a small bowl with cranberries

The cranberries, star anise & cuties. You can see a juniper berry on 1 of the fruits. I like to use them because they lend a dark contrast. 

You might find more inspirations in my book Mother Nature Inspired Christmas Ornaments.

Here are the materials I used:

Citrus fruits – I used naval oranges, pink grapefruits & cutie clementines.

Spices – Whole cloves, star anise & juniper berries.

Fresh cranberries.

Manicure scissors.

Soft pencil.

Hot glue.

close up of an old electric skillet filled with dry hot glue a small glue gun sits next to it

This weird looking thing is my hot glue skillet. I bought it the 1st year I started my Christmas decorating biz & it’s still going strong 37 years later. I like it much better than the small hot glue gun. In case you’re wondering, the piece of cardboard wired around the control dial to protect it from hot glue drips.

Tips & things good to know:

Buy your citrus fruit as fresh as possible.

This way your decorations will last much longer. I pawed through the bin of oranges to find the ones which were most orange. The pink grapefruits were picked off my neighbor’s tree. The cuties will be the ones to go 1st because their skin is so thin.

If you use cranberries, buy them fresh.

The frozen ones will be too mushy to use once defrosted.

Buying bulk spices are cheapest & works the best.

I bought way more cloves than I needed because some are small &/or the heads are missing. If you buy packaged star anise, you may get 2 or 3 whole ones. I weeded through the bulk jar to get as many whole ones as I could.

Any leftovers you can use to spice hot cider or wine. I like to throw them in a pot with water, oranges slices, rosemary sprigs & have it simmering on the stove during the holiday season.

Be creative when creating patterns.

You can do something simple or be as intricate as you’d like. This is where the soft pencil comes into play. You can outline the design & follow it as you go along. The cloves will cover it up.

close up of a naval orange decorated with cloves & a pair of manicure scissors poked into it

Yes, this is what I used the manicure scissors for!

Use manicure scissors to poke holes.

If you’re decorating more than 1 piece of fruit, this protects your paws from getting too sore when sticking in the whole cloves. A nail or fine knitting needle would work too – anything with a straight blade.

Most of the cranberries fell off.

The only reason I could think of why this happened is because they’re so soft, plump & very smooth. I ended up adhering them with a dab of Locite GO2 Gel & they’re holding on 5 days later. I probably won’t use them next time because they’ll be the 1st to go. They sure are pretty though!

close up of citrus fruits adorned with whole cloves star anise cranberries & juniper berries

All ready to go.

The fruit with the cloves is sturdiest.

The juniper berries & cranberries are still on days later but are best not to move around. The glue has a harder time adhering them to the smooth skins. The fruit with the cloves only you can practically play catch with!

Oranges make great pomander balls.

Simply ties a ribbon around oranges studded with cloves only & you’ll have a pomander ball. You’ll see me do this in the video below.

Here are some ways you can display your natural decorations:

These would make a beautiful centerpiece or could be used as mantle decor. Mine are going to grace my coffee table. Here are a few ideas for displaying them on a tray.

close up of citrus fruits adorned with whole cloves star anise cranberries & juniper berries on a silver tray

The fruit only.

a silver tray is filled with citrus fruits adorned with cloves star anise star anise & cranberries along with glittered pine cones

With pinecones collected behind my house which have been sprinkled with a little glitter.

close up of a tray filled with spice adorned citrus fruits cranberries glittered pine cones evergreen & rosemary branches

Adorned with snips of cedar, rosemary & fresh cranberries.

I love the smell of the oranges and cloves as I’m making these and so will you. Days later they still smell good and will look good for weeks and weeks. They do start to dry out a bit after the 1st week or 2 but look festive none the less. I hope you have a wonderful holiday and that this inspires you to create some beautiful, natural decor of you own.

Check out our Christmas category for more decorating ideas & DIYs.

You might find more inspirations in my book Mother Nature Inspired Christmas Ornaments.

Not natural but worth a look: Ornaments To Make Your Christmas Sparkle.

Happy creating,


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