Green Living: Tips for eco-friendly holiday decor

Decorating in an eco-friendly way can freshen up your holiday look this holiday season or start a new tradition, if you’re a new homeowner. Interior designers and decorators shared their tips for eco-friendly decorating during November and December.

Branch out with natural elements

Reuse the artificial wreaths and garlands from past years by adding in sticks and pine cones, said Tony Whitlock, owner of Acorn Home & Garden in Marietta. For centerpieces or mantels, he suggests bundling twigs, branches and leaves and binding them together with recycled or reused ribbon with a holiday print or a piece of burlap. Those bundled items can be placed in hollowed out pumpkins, mason jars and vases.

“It can be as simple as going out to your yard,” he said.

Also, fresh fir tree limbs trimmed from your tree — or carried away for free from home improvement stores, nurseries and tree lots — can be added to existing garland, wreaths and trees, or placed in a hurricane vase as a table centerpiece.

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Use dried and fresh natural fruit in centerpieces, on mantels and in trees. The colors of red and green apples, yellow pears and oranges are perfect for the holiday season, said Cristi Holcombe, owner of Charm Home and co-host and design coordinator of HGTV’s “Elbow Room.”

You can select flowers, such as hydrangea blooms, now and store them. To store, turn over a shoe box, put holes in the box and slide the stem of any flower into the hole to dry the flower, said Margaret Barnett, owner of Barnett + Co. Design. Tall grasses can also be dried and then separated and woven together to make ropelike ribbons around mason jars.

Mix it up

Spruce up an old wreath by reusing last year’s holiday ribbons, Holcombe said. Instead of purchasing a new tree skirt, she suggests wrapping old fabric, sheets or burlap around the base of the Christmas tree.

Sticks and branches can be incorporated into artificial or real Christmas trees by using wire to attach them to the tree and hang ornaments. Ornaments made of reused materials are on the market today. Atlanta’s Re-Inspiration Store in Virginia-Highland sells ornaments made of “upcycled” wool sweaters in the shape of hearts, birds and other motifs, ranging from $8-$18, and pine cone ornaments for $7. If you are looking to update your wreath or stocking, “upcycled” wool sweater wreaths and stockings also are holiday items at Re-Inspiration (wreaths are $50; stockings are $14.95).

Update the lights

Switch over to LED lights and recycle your strands of Christmas lights, Holcombe said. Many companies have recycling programs (some companies, such as, offer coupons for 25 percent off new LED lights).

Involve the children

Send the kids outside to pick up pine cones and have them pull off the little “leaves.” For a holiday craft that can be displayed indoors, apply what they gather to a cutout of a turkey or a Christmas tree, and fill in the shape with the “leaves” of the pine cone for texture, Barnett said.

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