An Emersonian holiday: Decorating with nature

If you’re looking for beautiful decorations that transcend the common and artificial, then take a walk in the woods, or drive to the sea. Visit nature and stock up on holiday decorations.

“Nature cannot be surprised in undress. Beauty breaks in everywhere.”                                                                                Ralph Waldo Emerson

Decorating for the holidays does not have to mean a visit to a store, mall, shopping center, or If you’re looking for beautiful decorations that transcend the common and artificial, then take a walk in the woods, or drive to the sea. Visit nature and stock up on holiday decorations that are far more memorable and satisfying than those on sale at Walmart. Open your eyes and you will discover that the best decorating ideas and materials are most likely in your own back yard, across the street in that wooded area, or along the shore. Since we live near fields, streams, forests, and ocean, nature overflows with gorgeous possibilities and most generously offers her stock, free of charge, for holiday decorating.

Pinecones painted red make for a festive yet natural table decoration.

As a bonus, if you decorate with nature’s bounty, you get a feeling of euphoria from physical contact with nature. Considering that we are living in a high-tech, sensory-deprived environment so much of the time, you can enhance your decorating experience with Emerson as your guide. For starters, read Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay, “Nature.” It’s heady stuff that will open your mind’s eye to all sorts of possibilities. Then grab a basket, a shopping bag, or other container and enter a decorating experience with endless appeal. After all, who is a better decorator than nature?

If you’re in the woods, you’ll find plenty of pine cones, branches and twigs. With these you can dress up an outdoor entryway. Fill a large container with dirt. Find a branch with many twigs attached and place it firmly in the container. If you prefer, you can paint the branch white, red, gold, or silver or leave it au natural. Secure it with rocks and stones from around your property. These stones and rocks can be painted as well. Once the branch is secured, dip the various pine cones in paint. You’ll just want to dip the tips. With string or ribbon, dangle the pine cones from your prepared branch. Add sprigs of evergreens for contrast. You’ll probably have stumbled upon miscellaneous berries on your woodland excursion. String these for a pretty garland or wreath. Because pine cones come in so many shapes and sizes, you could also string a long line of cones into a garland.

Apples, walnuts, and greenery combine to create a beautiful centerpiece.

Evergreen is a star this time of year, so what could be more beautiful than a forest of mini-evergreens on your foyer table? Cut the ends of evergreen branches as long or as short as you like. Fill paper bags with sand or dirt and tie securely with thin rope or ribbon. With different heights, you’ll be surprised at how quickly a dramatic woodland scene is rendered. Of course, you could also use these bundles of trees at each place setting for your holiday dinner. Just the fragrance of the pine will make guests enter into your Emersonian tablescape.

Don’t be surprised if your creativity and imagination are suddenly wildly excited. Emerson and nature have a way of looking at things more passionately. Instead of mindlessly walking through shops and stores, take a walk into the heart of nature. Look up and down and all around and discover the best-kept secrets of the world’s best decorator.


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