Nothing excites me more than to find a project that’s beautiful, practical, easy and, best of all, inexpensive. I love working with fresh pinecones because they add such a natural texture and contrast to holiday greenery. And as luck would have it, you can find an abundance of fresh pinecones in most areas of the country.

Pinecone ornament
This pretty pinecone ornament is easy to make, pest-free and ready to decorate a tree or wrapped gift.
Photo Credit: Joy A. Goforth
Pinecones baking
Place your collected pinecones in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.
Photo Credit: Joy A. Goforth
Painting pinecone edges
If you’d like your cones to have white tips, you can paint the closed ones before you bake them.
Photo Credit: Joy A. Goforth
Tying pinecone knot
Tie your decorative cord securely with a simple knot.
Photo Credit: Joy A. Goforth

Okay, admit it. At least once in your life, you’ve gleefully collected a basket of pinecones with visions of natural holiday decorations dancing in your head…only to discover that by simply setting the cones on your kitchen table, you’ve somehow awakened hundreds of six- and eight-legged creatures who are now scrambling for safety anywhere they can find it. You think to yourself, “Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time,” then toss the cones out in your back yard.

You were absolutely right: It is a good idea. And if you follow a few simple steps, you can make perfect bug-free pinecone ornaments that can be added to any indoor tree, swag, centerpiece, wreath or package. Here’s how:

Step 1: Collect any-size pinecones either from the ground or right off a tree.

Step 2: Place cones on a foil-lined baking sheet, and put into a 225-degree-F oven. If the cones are already open, bake for 30 minutes – this will be enough time to ensure your cones are pest-free.

Closed pinecones have to bake longer, and the time needed may vary depending on size and moisture content. Because the heat and drying-out process causes the cones to open fully, just keep checking the oven until your closed cones have opened. (Very large cones may take a couple of hours.) It’s probably safe to remove the cones once they’ve opened, but wait another 20 minutes just to guarantee all insects, spiders, mold spores, etc. are dead.

Let all your cones cool completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Baked cones can be used in their natural state or enhanced with paint, glitter or any other creative method you can come up with. To create pinecone ornaments that add some sparkle to your tree, choose a metallic spray paint and paint the cones well, ensuring you get a good coat all over.

Step 4: After the cones dry, cut about 6 inches of metallic cord and tie securely to the top of the cone.

Step 5: Tie a metallic bow to the cord. (A shoestring bow or even a simple knot looks terrific.)

The finished product is simple, yet adds the perfect sparkle to your Christmas tree or centerpieces. You can also use tiny cones as an extra-festive touch to your wrapped packages (and your gift recipients can hang them on their own trees). It’s a great way to bring nature indoors – without extra visitors.