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Sparkling Decorations: How I Lighten & Glitter Pine Cones

Pine cones are wonderful to use for Christmas crafting. The ones I collected were dark - here's how I lighten & glitter pine cones to add lots of sparkle.

a grouping of many small to medium sized sparkly, crystal glittered pine cones

There’s a pine tree near my driveway of my new home and the beautiful medium-sized cones have been dropping off every now and then. Kerplunk – they make quite the sound when they hit the ground. Seeing them laying on the ground prompted me into Christmas crafting mode and inspired me to make a holiday centerpiece. These pine cones are a bit too dark for the look I’m going for so I wanted to lighten and glitter them to bring on the sparkle.


Here’s are 2 cones side by side, 1 lightened & the other not, so you can see the difference.

I grew up in the bucolic countryside of Litchfield County, CT where I collected all kinds, shapes and sizes of cones. The spruce, pine, fir and hemlock trees on our property kept me well supplied with natural and free adornments. Our house was full of cone studded decorations! I still love using pine cones for my holiday creations many years later, even though I now live in the Arizona desert.

Lightening & glittering pine cones gives them a different look. Here’s how:

The ingredients:

many small pine cones sit on a sheet of white paper next to school glue, a brush & plastic tray, & canisters of crystal glitters

Pine Cones.  I used 2 sizes

Glitter. I used3 types of clear glitters – mica flake, crystal & iridescent.

School glue.

Paint brush.

Tray, saucer or dish to hold the glue mixture.

Not shown: bleach & a pail.

The steps:

1- Shake any debris off the larger cones & put them into a pail. Fill halfway with water. Add the bleach & add more water if necessary – you want the cones to be completely submerged. I used a ratio of 1/3 bleach to 2/3 water.

If you want your cones to be lighter than mine, then use more bleach. 

2- Cover the cones with a plate & then put a weight over it – I used a piece of brick edging. This keeps them fully in the bleach mixture.

pine cones are soaking in water & bleach in a red pail a plate & brick submerge them in the mixture

3- Put your cones in a covered area (for me it was the garage) away from children &/or animals. I left mine to “stew” for 3 days & added the smaller cones midway through & a bit more bleach.

4- The cones naturally close up in the water so they need to be opened back up. To do this I let them dry a bit outdoors & then place on a backing tray lined with foil (this keeps the sap from making a big mess). Place in a 200-250 degree F until they open back up, for me this took about 4 hours. Make sure you don’t leave home when the cones are baking in the oven.

closed up pine cones sit on a a foil lined baking tray

Pine cones in the warm oven make the house smell like Christmas!

5- Now comes the fun part – making them all sparkly with glitter. I dilute the desired amount of school glue with water, a ration of about 1:1, & mix it together. I brush the glue on & then cover the cones with the glitter. I leave it on a few minutes & then shake the excess off.

1 crystal glittered pine cones sits in front of a tray with a brush & glue, plain pine cones, & a canister of glitter there is a large bag of glitter next to the pine cone

up close looking at pine cones glittered with mica flake glitter to give them an old fashioned look

This is the mica flake glitter. It gives a vintage snowy effect.

pine cones glittered with crystal glitter sit on a piece of white paper

The crystal glitter gives a subtle shine.

pine cones glittered with iridescent glitter sit on a piece of white paper

Crystalline or iridescent glitter has different color specks in it & really catches the lig

Now the cones are all ready to grace my last minute Christmas centerpiece. The good thing about these lightened and glittered cones is that you’ll be able to use them for years to come. The glitter stays on and holds it shine beautifully. How lovely they’d be running down the center of the dining table illuminated by votive candles – simple, festive and sparkling!

Do you want to make your own Christmas ornaments?  Please check out our 2 DIY books Mother Nature Inspired Christmas Ornaments & Ornaments To Make Your Christmas Sparkle.

Wishing you a sparkling & joy us holiday season,

Nell's signature


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  1. I love your videos!!

  2. Well thank you so much Kansas Sunshine … & Happy Holidays! Nell

  3. Did you rinse the cones after removing them from bleach water?

  4. Great idea for pine cones!

  5. Yes I do Toni. I don’t think it would be an issue but I want to lessen the chance of “bleach smell”. Nell

  6. Hi Jane – Thank you! I love pine cones for decorating. Check these snowy cones out: Nell

  7. I have done them and made candle holders by gluing 5 cones together and a candle holder in the middle on a piece of felt I have had them for 20 years now

  8. Bonny – That’s the great thing about pinecones. They’re very long lasting, especially when glittered &/or sprayed. Nell

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