How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor

How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via

‘Tis the season to bust outdoors to find all Christmas decor’s finest!

It was a really chilly day. With temps near or on zero, I bundled up good, grabbed my gloves, and head out to a strip of road known for the best fallen tree finds.

We’d had a recent wind storm so I knew the pickin’s would be ripe… I was gonna make it big today.

Here’s how I shop outdoors for Christmas decor…


How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via

Evergreen branches

1. I watch the roadsides right after wind storms.

2. I ‘prune’ tree branches with permission.

– – – – – – 

Well, to my total dismay, pickin’s were not ripe at all.

What’s up?! Is someone cleaning up after storms now?

Or are there ‘others like me?’

Chilled to the bone, I wasn’t about to quit quite yet. I noted the direction of the wind, and then realized I was just looking on the wrong side of the big trees today.

Hopping back in the truck, I took off for parts unknown. I was not going home empty handed.

How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via

Yes. Trees like that. That is what I’m after. A row of them would have been nice, but I will also accept one at a time if need be.

Like I can custom order curb side pickin’s…

Collecting evergreen branches / How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via
Now we’re talkin’! I didn’t find a ton, but I had enough.

Guess I’ll just have to hope for another wind storm before I deck out the mantel…

Christmas fireplace mantel with old windows and garland via

You know what I do with mantels, yes? They are LOADED with greens. Here’s my 2012 Coca Cola mantel and 2014 old windows mantel versions.

Yeah. I need lots. Big fireplaces need big treatments.

I’m not worried. The winter storms are young.

Collecting branches / How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via
So what else do I look for other than fallen boughs?


2. Sticks. Twigs, branches, chunks of tree, whatever I can find.

3. Weeping willow branches and grapevine branches from my own yard. They shape best when still green and dry very quickly. Remove any leaves and shape branches as desired.

Here’s a twig chandelier I’ve made from willow and grapevines.

– – – – – –

These branches aren’t quite what I had in mind, but I took them anyway. Too good to pass up! Look how straight they are… that’s gotta become something that needs to be straight.

Into my stash it goes. I’ll let them dry out for awhile.

What would you use them for?

Pinecone collecting / How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via


3. Pinecones are a given. I bring them inside, and allow them to dry before putting them to work.

Note: Some bake pinecones in the oven to kill the bugs. I’ve yet to do that.

– – – – –

Ohhhh yeah. Can’t go by a road filled with pinecones without stretching out the very shirt you are wearing.

Never a bag in sight when you need one, is there?

Pinecone collecting / How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via

What a lovely yield!

They were damp, so I spread them out in a shallow basket.

Note… don’t ever leave pinecones in a plastic bag. I did that last year and really regretted it. Pinecones are like wood and they rot like rotten wood. Strange, but true.

I’ve read that one should really bake them to get rid of bugs and stuff, but I’ve yet to ever do that. 

How do you prepare pinecones?

Evergreen branches with tuxedo cat / How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via
Skye was keeping track of all the comings and goings (and tripping) in the photo studio

I stubbed a toe yesterday… twice… same toe. So it’s rather comical to try and walk a straight line with ‘the toe’ and ‘the floor gear’. 

‘Tis the season for mess and tripping. Or so I tell myself.

Tuxedo cats on guard / How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via
And then my two security guards were alerted to some major wind action outside. They were watching leaves fluttering around like birds. 

Those dangerous leaves didn’t stand a chance! These two are synchronized pros.

How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via
And then I got to work. I completed my first Christmas junk project in full draft mode, ready to roll for Dec 1st!

That’s a long wait, isn’t it? Don’t worry. I’ll fill the blog up with… ‘useful ramblings,’… like today. πŸ™‚

Tuxedo cats / How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor / outdoor shopping tips via
Hmm… hey guys? Care to strike a few more ‘useful’ poses over the next 2 weeks?

We’ll be working on it. πŸ˜€

Do you also shop outdoors for Christmas? What do you look for?


Other Christmas decorating with nature features:

firewood cut Christmas trees on
Firewood Christmas trees

Log candle centrepiece via

Firewood candle centrepiece

grapevine twig and pinecone garland on

Twig garlands
wood round and washer garland on

Wood round and washer garland

firewood kindling stars on
Firewood kindling stars

Facebook Pinterest Twitter Instagram RSS

Subscribe to projects!

Categories: Christmas, Outdoors, Seasonal
Tags: , , , ,

28 thoughts on “How I shop outdoors for Christmas decor

  1. We were watching the “snow” flit around our yard here in North Carolina. We think it was the cattails that are poofing in a ditch near our house. AND, it was in the 70s today. Stay warm, everyone. We are set to get much cooler in a few days.

  2. Yep – I shop the outdoors. But admit that I struggle to know where to go. Twigs are easy enough… it’s the green stuff that’s more difficult. You’re not supposed to remove anything from state game land and state parks… so nix to traversing those trails for goods (altho there’s tons!). I’ve already stopped along highways – but that’s just too embarassing and awkward. I’ve mostly been using my own boxwood bushes cuttings. The neighbor has a pine tree that hangs over in our yard… the part that’s on our side I figure is free for the taking. But yep – always nervous about where to prune or find. Ok – that shoulda been my own blog post… maybe it will be eventually. Not quite ready yet. We got Thanksgiving to get through first. Wish SO badly the US would adopt Canada’s Thanksgiving date. I try to not do Christmas decor before it’s over as I feel it’s an important day and not to be overlooked. Blessings to you as you scour and create.

  3. Love your take from the roadside!! I can line my trunk with something so I can do similar, thank you!! :)))
    I adore your fur family.

    • Love your post. I also look for natures cast offs. Holly branches,all kinds of pine branches, and dried pods and flowers from my garden. I also grow ornamental cabbage. It looks great in arrangements.White spray paint and snow spray paint work wonders. I love your fur babies!

  4. I always cook my pinecones…. after the FIRST time I picked them and theygot sap all over the place.The thought of MORE bugs in my house…um, no thanks! LOL Between ants, tiny spiders, crickets and those dreaded fruit flies that won’t go away no matter WHAT we do….do I really need more teeny tiny bugs that will find their way onto my leg or hand as I am sitting on the couch? LOL! (Why they always get me when I am on the couch, and JUST ME, I just don’t know. Creeps me out! LOL)

    I put wire on the BIG pinecones. Some I leave plain, some I spray paint with silver or gold. Others just get spray glitter. I add them to window treatments or greenery wreaths. I use fake greens…I hate needles! LOL

    I also make wreaths of JUST pinecones…using the smaller ones. I have my “pine cone pickin areas” all over the place. Behind the condos where I used to live YEARS ago they have the HUGE pine cones. When I moved there in 1988 the trees were JUST planted. Now the trees are HUGE…and there are like 100 of them!It’s pine cone heaven I tell ya!!! There are some trees with smaller cones right nearby.

    On the other end of that town are 2 trees with teeny tiny pinecones. I stumbled across them one winter while I was delivering phone books to earn extra money. They are on someone’s property, but the tree is tall and the cones fall on the sidewalk, so I grabbed them up!

    I live 25 minutes from that town now, but I go back and GATHER when I need to. πŸ™‚

    I ride down the road (even the highway) and look at trees…to see what kind of pinecones they have. Am I obsessed? Maybe! LOL

    Last winter I found a spot that had round ones. My 13 y/o refused to get out of the car and help because the tree I was picking from under was on near the curb of a Golf Club/ Restaurant and I parked in the parking lot, got out of the car with my plastic bag, and was pick-pick-picking! She was embarrassed. So I had to stand in front of the car and dance for a second! hahaha (Any chance to mortify the kids I surely do it!)

    This year I have leftovers from LAST year…all cooked and ready to use. Unless my husband CRUSHED them in the garage when re-organizing, (he likes to do that often) by putting some big thing on top of the bag without looking to see what was IN the bag. Huge possibility there. LOL!

    I am mad that we have no pine trees in OUR YARD. We do however have more LEAVES than we need…LOL!

    I am not bragging but I have a TON of TWIGS. A pain to rake up (they keep getting stuck in the rake.) but I LOVE to go out and gather up some when I need them for a project. We will NEVER run out of those unless we chop down the I don’t know, maybe 25-30 trees on the side of the house on the border of the property. (That won’t happen. They are pretty in the spring/summer) We are going to “trim” them and put a hammock and swing on a metal stand under there eventually.

    My parents bought hubby a chain saw…early Christmas present, for cutting down the big ugly wacky tree out back. The roots are coming out of the ground, sideways. I know EXACTLY why he has not taken it out of the box….ME! I made the mistake of envisioning myself cutting off all those “twiggy” branches from the 1st 8 feet of those 25-30 trees….out loud.

    Ok so I don’t get to have the “chain saw rush” …YET. He does go to work during the day. Does he REALLY think I don’t have the nerve to put it together and gas it up??? VVVRRRRROOOMMMM hahahahahahahaha

    I’m just too busy trying to paint the entire interior of the house (including waterproofing the basement walls), and build a mantle for the LR BEFORE Christmas! (…on top of listing on eBay ALL my Christmas “finds” from last year.) I’m now of the opinion that the LR will get painted and the mantle made and painted…and that is probably IT (before Christmas).

    I LOVE your Blog and your humor! keep up all the great stuff!!!!

  5. I shop the woods behind our house. We have lots of good buys there! Pine cones, limbs, porcupine eggs (aka Sweet Gum balls, kind of like pine cones except from they come from sweet gum trees). I get most of the natural greens I use for decorating from the extra limbs cut off the bottom of our Christmas tree. I also use some branches from our cedar trees. Mind if I borrow this idea for a post? I know so many would love the inspiration!

    • Feel free to post away, Jayne! It’s a great topic for this time of year.

      I also have this Christmas tree castaway in my garden growing for the sole reason of harvesting from it. You might say I’m growing my own forest? haha

  6. We are very lucky…we have a pine tree lined driveway and our neighbors planted fir trees all along their property line plus we have great boxwoods that always need pruning!

    I love to simply trim several branches from inside the trees and tie the cut ends with big ribbon and hang them everywhere on the porches and between the garage doors and of course inside…smells so good.

    We usually get a small live tree but since that can only be in for about a week we sometimes put pine branches in a bucket for a tree until the live one comes inside!:)

    I try to remember to wear gloves and avoid sap hands.

  7. I definitely shop the outdoors for Christmas decorations. I usually put artificial garland outside on my railings and posts. I then take all of my gatherings of berries, pine branches, holly branches and arborvitae branches and arrange them around the artificial garland on the railing and posts. I have to say the result is quite stunning. If something happens to die during the season, I have more to “shop” for in the woods by my home.
    I use all of the things I gather, all around the house.

  8. ohhh donna… your guys can be on a post every day…they just draw me in. I am not much into mantels, tree branches, pinecones , whatever, but those beauties..I stop and read!! β™₯

  9. Great idea gathering dropping after a wind storm for greenery and such – this has inspire me — you get me thinking outside the box – love that about you!

    • Hi Barbie, my mantel is fairly deep, so things tend to stay put. I’ll do cheater things like use masking tape for large branches if need be, but most everything generally just sits loose and magically stays.

  10. I freeze my outdoor collections for at least 24 hours to kill any possible critters. I use the thick bags from cereal boxes, which work well to hold them in the freezer and can be disposed of after. Sometimes it’s hard to wait a day to work with things, but I haven’t had any bug problems.

  11. Donna – I love where you shop!! Last week I gathered acorns for my Thanksgiving table and put them in a plastic bag and they sprouted! My son tells me “what’d you expect? acorns are seeds!” I have never had that happen before.

    Also, I am going to attempt to create one of your garlands this year. Wish me luck!

    • HI, just found your site and love it! My kind of gals… I have been collecting stuff from outdoors for years I even have my husbands help.I live in Micigan and we vacation in the UP boy can I find the stuff,feathers, acorns..big ones too! rocks, driffwood,you would go crazy with all the findings..I do love it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *