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Explore, craft and create with nature


Have you ever wanted to create that perfect gift for someone special during the holidays? For nature enthusiasts, we can gather items all year long to create a variety of crafty projects. Collecting seeds, nuts, cones and dried berries, or moss, pine boughs and holly branches can all contribute to that perfect nature gift.

For instance, flower seeds from those dried flower heads in your garden can be pressed or mixed into homemade paper products. To make homemade paper, all that is required is shredded paper of your choosing, water, seeds, a blender, and a mesh screen to make your own “nature paper” that can not only serve as a lovely holiday card (once dried), but it can be planted in the spring.

Collected buckeyes make for a nice garland once holes are drilled and the colored twine passed through, and a beautiful natural garland is formed! You can even add dried crabapples to the garland. Simple, and easy to make. Various cones of sizes and shapes can be made into bird feeders with the addition of some peanut butter and birdseed; a nice holiday treat for our feathered friends. Also, cut pine boughs can be shaped around a wire wreath and tied with floral wire to create a winter masterpiece for your door. Just add your own embellishments.

In addition to making wreaths and garlands, making home-crafted ornaments are a big hit. If you saved dried moss and small twigs from hikes earlier in the year, then you have almost everything you need to make tree cookie or terrarium ornaments. Start by purchasing clear, plastic ornaments with removal tops. Add small bits of moss, twigs, and anything else you like, such as glitter, put the top back on, and you have created custom nature ornaments to gift those you love with a bit of the outdoors. Don’t forget to add a bell or a bow!

Other nature craft ideas include making “tree cookie” ornaments right in your own woodshop. All that is required is some scrap branches from your yard, a saw, a drill, and some colored twine. To make these easy ornaments, cut the branches into discs (or cookies), drill holes in the top of each slice, thread with twine, and these “tree-mendous” creations can be decorated by wood-burning or using woodland stamps.

The possibilities are almost endless. If you have discarded items around your house that need a purpose, for further nature craft ideas, including recycled, upcycled, or repurposed craft ideas, check out Creativebug — a database on the CDPL website on how-to projects, or Libby and Hoopla — our online platforms, for various books and magazines to gain inspiration from.

If you like step-by-step guidance while creating your ornaments, a few suggestions from our collection at CDPL are “Holiday Ornaments for the Scroll Saw” (745.5941 Lon) by Rick and Karen Longabaugh; “Wild + Free Holidays: 35 Festive Family Activities to Make the Season Bright” (745.59412 Arm) by Ainsley Arment; “Handcrafted Christmas: Ornaments, Decorations, and Cookie Recipes to Make at Home” (745.59412 Wag) by Susan Waggoner; and “Homemade Holiday: Craft Your Way Through more than 40 Festive Projects” (745.5941 Pes) by Sophie Pester and Catharina Bruns

Nature crafts are a fun-filled way of expressing our thanks that nature provides so many free ways to explore, craft and create. Choosing to craft from the heart will definitely give that little extra touch to show someone you care; you took the time to make a gift that won’t be forgotten. So, if you have an imagination, then you too, can create with nature all year long.


Stephanie Morrissette is a library assistant with the reference and local history department at the Crawfordsville District Public Library.


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