Holiday Decor on a Budget

Last year I decided to spruce up my holiday decor with pine cones. I had it all planned out:

Step 1: Gather pine cones.

Step 2: Decorate pine cones.

Step 3: Decorate house with decorated pine cones.

Simple and easy.

One of my husband’s clients even took the work out of  Step 1 by sending me two huge garbage bags filled with pine cones.


I figured I would complete everything in about an hour, sip on eggnog and admire my beautiful homemade pine cone decorations with a warm fire glowing in the background.

Isn’t that a pretty picture?

That image didn’t last too long.

I knew that I wanted to spray paint my pine cones, and turned to Pinterest to get ideas on the best way to do it and the best spray paint to use. If you’re a Pinterest user, you know that one search leads to another, and I started to browse the pins labeled ‘More like this’.

That’s when I came across a pin titled, ‘How to Prepare Pine Cones for Crafts’. It was written by a blogger named Bren of BrenDid.

Bren, you shook my world. This was going to take a little longer than I thought.

I’ll let you read Bren’s post for the details, but it turns out that pine cones need to be washed before being used as indoor decorations.

WASHED?! Goodbye eggnog and warm fire.

Apparently, bringing unwashed pine cones inside welcomes mold, mildew and little critters into your home. Critters and eggnog are not a good mix.

As much as possible, I attempt to avoid harmful chemicals in my home, and the thing that drew me to Bren’s instructions is the fact that she didn’t use any chemicals to clean the pinecones. Vinegar and water did the trick for cleaning.

“Project Pinecone” as I playfully dubbed this process, became a bit of a science lesson for me. When I placed the pine cones in the vinegar and water solution, they closed up.

Who knew? Surely not someone more familiar with palm trees than pine cones.

Closed Pine Cones

After they dried overnight, the next step was for the cleaned pinecones to spend a few hours in the oven. The pine cones opened up as they baked (science lesson No. 2) and during the baking process, my home smelled amazing!

Finally! A step where I could sip on eggnog.

In preparation for spraying my pinecones, I visited Lowe’s the day before (during the pine cone drying process) to find metallic spray paint. I always visit the clearance area at the front of the store first, and happened to find one of the colors I needed at a savings of 60%. That made up for having to purchase the other color at full price.

An old bedsheet, two canisters of spray paint and a couple boxes of baked pine cones accompanied me outside for Step 2. I didn’t spray all of the pine cones, because I had a project in mind that involved a more natural look.

Pine cone prepped and ready for painting!

The colors I chose to spray paint my pine cones were metallic gold and silver, and the finished product was much prettier than I expected.


We all know that Christmas can be an expensive time of the year.

I had plans to display my decorated pine cones both indoors and outdoors and needed containers that fit my decorating style and my budget.

One of my year round savings hacks is to sign up for email and/or text messages from my favorite stores. I never know when a sale or deal will be sent to me, and even if I’m on the go, most stores accept coupons on my phone.

A day or two after I finished Project Pine Cone, JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores sent me a text message about a holiday Doorbuster sale for 60% off holiday decor.


I browsed the aisles at JOANN and found everything I needed to make the decorations of my dreams for my pine cones.

Indoor decorations — galvanized holiday lanterns and string lights
Outdoor decorations — wooden holiday crates, greenery, and string lights

The results were beyond my expectations. This was a Pinterest win!

By day, the galvanized lantern beautifully displayed the pine cones.
By night, string lights illuminated each painted pine cone.
The natural look of the pine cones was perfect for outdoor decor.
When darkness fell, well placed string lights illuminated the message on each crate.

The pine cones went well with everything, and I updated my holiday decor without breaking the bank. When it was time to take my Christmas decorations down, everything was very easy to store.

I surprised myself with this project because I do not consider myself an “artsy-craftsy” person. I just wanted to try something outside of my comfort zone.

The pinecones that were left over from my first group of projects helped me decorate again in 2020. I used an existing can of gold spray paint and some greenery to create 2 centerpieces.

Gold pinecones combined with natural pinecones created beautiful Christmas decorations.

Will a budget friendly DIY project be a part of your decor this holiday season?

6 thoughts on “Holiday Decor on a Budget

  1. These are beautiful! I knew to put them in the oven, but I did not know they had to be “cleaned”. Pine cone decor is a great and inexpensive way to spruce up the home for the holidays!

    1. Thank you, Tiffany! Cleaned pine cones are a home decor gift that keeps on giving! I have another project planned this year, and the undecorated pine cones that I have been storing will receive a facelift.

  2. I love all these ideas me and the kids are super creative during the holidays because every year we have a tendency of losing things or like lights get broken. It gets expensive buying lights over and over ….replacing …. redecorating & misplacing . When you know get creative though…you don’t have to do the same thing over and over and over again. This year we plan to do the same thing with the pinecones with glitter I use a lot of glue and I have a whole bunch of beautiful things left over from my Halloween costume which Yes have flowers and leaves on them so I made a brand new lease on decor and it’s always super creative and super fun thanks for this post It just fueled my ideas so much more.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this post! I had my kids collecting pine cones but then had no idea what to do with them (after getting rid of the creepy crawlies) thank you for the inspiration! 🙂

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