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Every time I step outside and take a moment to look closely, I am amazed at all of the beauty that surrounds me. When I realized my backyard was full of potential Christmas decor, I was beside myself, and I am so excited to share how you can forage Christmas decor in the Arkansas woods.
As soon as the sun sets on Thanksgiving, it’s time to get ready! I go into full Christmas mode and I don’t hold back. You know, “deck the halls and all that stuff?”
In my house, Black Friday isn’t about shopping; it’s the start of the Christmas season. We take our annual trip to the Romance Christmas Tree Farm and dig out all of our decorations from the shed.
Over the years, I have amassed an impressive collection of ornaments, yard decor and twinkle lights, but I like to add a few fresh touches each season. A few wreaths, greenery on the mantle and piles of pine cones can help to bring a little bit of the outdoors in and give our home that rustic and natural feel that I love so much. The coolest part is that I can find everything I need right in my backyard.
The fields and forests in Arkansas are full of treasures. I love to search for wild morel mushrooms in the spring and wild edible plants year-round. It only makes sense to head out into the woods searching for holiday decorations. Here are a few plants you probably have right in your own backyard.
Mistletoe is an evergreen, parasitic plant that grows in trees across the state. It’s the subject of many Christmas songs and is most commonly hung in doorways to inspire a kiss during the holiday season.
The eastern red cedar is one of Arkansas’s two native juniper trees. While both male and female trees produce beautiful greenery, the female trees put out berry-like cones that have a bluish-gray appearance.
This native plant is found across the state but is more abundant across the southeastern section. The female trees produce berry-like fruit, which matures and turns red (occasionally yellow) in mid-November and remains throughout the winter. Because of its vibrant red and green color, holly is a popular Christmas decoration.
Found across the state, Canadian Wild Rye is a native plant abundant across the plains but found throughout North America. The spiky seed heads have a feathery appearance.
The pine tree is Arkansas’s state tree, and we have four native species in the state. Pine trees put off pine cones which are perfect for making ornaments or piling in a bowl.
Although not native, Leyland cypress trees are found in Christmas tree farms across the state. Most tree farms offer cuttings or you can trim some from the back of your tree to use around your home.
Sticks, logs and wood slices are commonly used for Christmas decorations. If you are skilled with a miter or band saw, you can easily cut wood slices to use in Christmas decor. If you prefer, they are also readily available in craft stores.
The other day, my 5-year-old son and I grabbed a basket and headed out into the forest behind our house to collect some things for an afternoon crafting session. The early December day was warm and sunny and perfect for making wreaths and wrapping gifts.
The triangle wreath is simple and can be made without a store-bought wreath form and has become a favorite design of mine in the past few years.
Foraged decor has a rustic feel and appearance, so there is no need to get too fancy. Fill a basket or bowl with foraged pinecones, hang mistletoe in a doorway, attach greenery to a grapevine wreath form or glue holly leaves and wild rye to presents wrapped in craft paper. No matter how you do it, it’s sure to be beautiful.
If you decide to forage Christmas decor this holiday season, we’d love for you to share your creations with us in the Only In Arkansas Facebook group.
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