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crafting

Arts & Crafts, Life & Style, Special Occasions

How To Dry Orange Slices to Make Garlands and Decorations This Christmas

Make plastic-free and zero-waste decorations, with this full easy guide on how to dry orange slices for use in garlands, wreaths, and other Christmas decorations.

I’m in a full-on plastic-free and natural Christmas decorations kick this year. I’ve already shown you easy it is to make a popcorn garland, with popcorn and fresh cranberries. Now let me show you just how easy yet stunningly effective it is to dry orange slices to make garlands, decorations, gift tags, wreaths, and other Christmas trimmings.

It’s such a cheap and eco-friendly way to bring some Christmas cheer to your home. And, the best part is they smell so amazing. If someone was to bottle the smell of Christmas, for me it’s these slices drying in the oven.

To make this really cost-effective, and to help reduce food waste (I am all about reducing food waste) lookout for short-dated oranges reduced in price at your local shop. It’s easiest to find these towards the end of the day.

How To Dry Orange Slices

Image of a dried orange Christmas garland with a blue text box that says how to dry orange slices to make decorations

You Will Need

  • Oranges (unbruised ones will give a better finish)
  • A metal cooling rack
  • A baking tray
  • Clean dry tea towel
  • Your oven preheated to 120°C fan / 140°C regular oven / 250°F / Gas Mark 1 or 2

Method

  • Slice your oranges into 1 to 2 cm thick slices. It’s important to cut them as consistently sized as you can, so that they cook evenly in the oven.
  • Place a slice on the tea towel, and fold over the fabric so that the slice is covered. Gently pat out as much juice out of the slices as possible without damaging the slice. Repeat this step for each slice.
  • Next, lay your oranges out on to the metal cooling rack, that is placed on a baking tray, and place in the oven for around 3 hours. The metal cooling rack is essential, as the orange slices would otherwise burn and stick to the baking tray. The use of the cooling rack allows air to circulate and dry out the orange slices without burning.
  • Turn your oranges every half an hour to allow them to dry out evenly, and to prevent them sticking to the cooling rack. Opening the oven to turn your orange slice also allows moisture to escape from your oven, aiding the drying process.
  • If your orange slices are thin they will dry out quicker. As well as regularly turning them, regularly keep an eye on them to prevent burning.
  • Your orange slices are ready when they are dry to the touch (although they may still feel a little bit sticky when they are warm). Do bear in mind, the longer you dry your slices for for the longer they will last, so don’t be tempted to take them out the oven too early.

Suggestions On How To Use Dried Orange Slices

person threading a dried orange slice garland

Orange slices can be used for a whole host of decor ideas. The dried orange garland in this guide to zero-waste Christmas decorations is a favourite.

To make a dried orange garland, simply take a knitting needle, a large embroidery needle, or similar, and string a length of twine through each orange, being careful not to rip the orange as you string. You can put them as close together or as far apart as however suits your best. Once finished, simply tie a knot with a loop at each end to make hanging easy.

Of course, it’s not just garlands that you can make. Dried orange slices make great eco-friendly alternatives to plastic baubles hanging on your Christmas tree. You can use them in your Christmas wrapping, in place of a plastic bow, add them to an indoor Christmas wreath, use them in your Christmas place settings. The only limiting factor is your imagination! If you are struggling, I’ve got lots of ideas on my eco-friendly Christmas Pinterest board.

How Long Will Dried Orange Slices Last?

Dried orange slices, if stored correctly and used indoors only, will last for years. The slices do darken over time, but I like the rustic look this gives.

To store your orange slices for next Christmas, if find it best to store them in a sealed jar or tub. This helps to prevent moisture from potentially rehydrating your slices whilst they are stored in your loft. Moisture getting in would cause the slices to rot. A sealed jar or tub helps prevent this.

I don’t tend to use dried orange slices for outdoor decorations, such as Christmas door wreaths. This is because the oranges do rehydrate when exposed to rain, and so don’t last for very long at all.

Arts & Crafts, Life & Style

10 Easy Plastic-Free & Zero Waste Christmas Decorations to DIY

Today I’m sharing with you ten easy yet effective plastic-free and zero waste Christmas decorations for you to make this festive season, to enjoy year after year.

With the Covid-19 pandemic still ongoing, and still impacting our lives, many of us are compensating by decking the halls like never before this Christmas to bring a little extra sparkle to our lives.

If you’re also looking to decorate your home a little more, then perhaps some of these plastic-free and zero waste Christmas decorations, made from natural and compostable materials, will be up your street. Retailers may have finally started to realise we want a less plastic Christmas, but the good news is you don’t have to buy anything new as with a lot of these crafts it’s a case of using what you already have to hand.

Before I begin, please, don’t bin your existing decorations just because they’re made of plastic. Remember, as with most items, the most eco-friendly Christmas decorations are the ones you already own. Re-using what we already have is the absolute pinnacle of zero waste. So, if you’ve got reams of tinsel and plastic baubles galore from Christmases gone by, then decorate using them with abandon! I’ve got plastic baubles on my Christmas tree from when I was a kid, and they bring me SO much joy. I’m hoping that one day they might bring my kids joy too.

The Zero Waste Christmas Decorations to DIY

Image of paper bag stars with a blue text box that says easy plastic-free Christmas decorations to make

Disclaimer over, let’s move on to the decorations! Here are 10 of my favourite eco-friendly and plastic-free Christmas decorations to make:

Dried Orange Garland

10 zero-waste Christmas decorations made using natural and compostable materials.

Dried orange slices are pure Instagram catnip, and for good reason – they are stunningly effective. The good news is that if you want your house to look and smell amazing for Christmas, then these garlands are so easy to make. Follow House of Jade Interiors for the full tutorial.

A word of advice. Reserve the dried oranges for indoor decorations only. What I’ve found is that if you use them on outdoor decorations the oranges rehydrate and start to rot. However, if you keep them indoors, and then after Christmas store them in an airtight container, such as a jar or old Tupperware box, then you can use your dried oranges year after year.

Zero Waste Salt Dough Stars Christmas Decorations

Homemade Salt dough decorations

Salt dough ornaments aren’t just for kids, although you can certainly get your kids involved in making them.

This simple yet stylish Christmas scented salt dough garland can be made by following Rocky Hedge Farm’s easy tutorial. If you have any stars leftover, individual stars would also look amazing hanging on your tree or used in your gift wrapping.

As before, it’s best to use salt dough decorations for indoor decor only. And when you take your decorations down it’s best to store salt dough ornaments in an airtight container. Again, if exposed to moisture they can go damp and rot in storage.

Crochet Stars

Crochet stars pattern for a zero-waste Christmas

If you are a keen crocheter, then this one’s for you. If you have any odds and ends of wool leftover from other projects, then try making these beautiful crochet stars. Hang them on your Christmas tree as baubles, string them up in a garland, use them instead of bows on Christmas gifts… The possibilities are endless! The free pattern is available from Persia Lou.

Origami Star Garland

Fun eco-friendly Christmas crafts to try

If you have a collection of paper – perhaps saved from deliveries and old wrapping paper – then this plastic-free origami stars tutorial from Girl About Townhouse is an easy one to follow. All you need is paper, string, and a craft knife. You’ll be seeing stars in no time! Alternatively, this tutorial would be a great one for slightly older kids to follow. Pop a Christmas movie on and they’ll be busy for hours!

Zero Waste Foliage Candle Holders Christmas Table Decorations

10 Christmas decorations made using natural and compostable materials.

I love the complete and utter simplicity of these festive candle holders from Traumzuhause. Note the post is written in German, so use an online translation service if your German isn’t up to scratch or non-existent! However, the good thing is this craft is incredibly simple to put together. If you’ve got some empty wine bottles and some greenery then voila, an instant plastic-free and zero waste Christmas decoration for your dining table. Snippings from your Christmas tree would work, as would some ivy, rosemary, or eucalyptus. Skill level zero. My kind of Christmas craft!

Paper Bag Stars

10 Christmas decorations made using natural and compostable materials.

Got a bunch of paper bags that you are never going to use? Make these beautiful zero waste paper bag stars with this tutorial from The Merry Thought. I would add that if you secure the final bag with a paperclip or two, instead of gluing it, then you will be able to fold your star flat and reuse your stars year after year after year.

Orange Peel Garland

Zero-waste Christmas craft ideas
Image by Laura Pashby

This sweet and simple orange peel garland is a great plastic-free craft idea. The original post that I linked to no longer exists, but try this very similar tutorial from Lovilee instead. Save up your orange peels, and then drape your garlands on your Christmas tree, on your mantlepiece, or dangle them from your window for a lovely scented zero waste decoration. Just remember the rules for dried fruit so that you can re-use these pretty decorations year after year.

Popcorn & Cranberry Garland

Eco-friendly Christmas crafts

If you want an easy zero waste Christmas decoration, then try this Cranberry and popcorn garland from Mountain Cravings. That is if you don’t eat all the popcorn first! Again, this could be a great one for slightly older kids to get involved in.

I’ve also had a go at making a popcorn garland and have picked up some useful tips on making it both plastic-free, and easier to make, so do take a read at that too.

An important note. Although this garland is pictured outdoors, I personally wouldn’t use this garland outdoors, as you’ll attract a host of wildlife. This is no bad thing in itself, but it’s important to bear in mind that popcorn fills birds up with little nutritional benefit, at a time of year when they should be eating fat and protein-rich foods to be able to survive the winter. Save it for decorating your Christmas tree in a low waste way, or for stringing up on your stairs or walls.

Pinecone Garland

Sustainable Christmas decorations to make, using natural and compostable materials

This pine cone garland from Decor Adventures is another great decoration that can be used year after year. I personally would omit the glitter, as regular glitter is a microplastic. What’s more, it turns out even the stuff labelled as eco-friendly glitter is not great for the environment. However, even without the sparkles, this plastic-free garland will still look great on your mantlepiece this festive season. You’ll also have great fun foraging for pinecones on a bracing winter’s walk.

Zero Waste Rosemary Wreath Christmas Decoration

Eco-friendly Christmas decorations to DIY

Finally, this mini wreath garland from The Merry Thought is another easy zero waste make for the festive season that is eye-catching and incredibly effective. Make it using rosemary, and it will fill your home with a lovely scent.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I’m off to get busy with some plastic-free crafting!

If you have any other zero waste Christmas decorations ideas, then please do share with the Moral Fibres community in the comments below. I’d love to hear!

And if you aren’t a crafty person, then do check out my guide to eco-friendly and ethical Christmas decorations for heaps of planet and people-friendly decorations. Meanwhile, no Christmas is complete without a Christmas tree, so here’s my guide to the most sustainable and eco-friendly Christmas trees. You can also check out my guide to having an eco-friendly Christmas – it’s bursting with festive ideas that are kind to the planet!