what to do with your Christmas decorations

Christmas is over. The turkey is finished and the last of the cranberry sauce has been scraped from the dish; the Christmas tree has been hurled out and all the decorations taken down. I know it’s not Twelfth Night until 5th January*, but I like to start the New Year afresh, not weighed down with last year’s detritus, so everything’s swept away.

Most of the Christmas decorations are packed away after a little judicious sorting; thankfully the snowman decorated with cotton wool and other primary school produced decorations have finally disappeared. It seems a shame to throw away the greenery that decorated the house so even though it’s slightly dried up and shrivelled, it’s time to put it to use. Most of the bay leaves will hang in the kitchen, which means I can just reach out to grab a leaf instead of putting on coat and wellies to pick from the garden. Any other dry and combustible greenery will be packaged up to make natural fire starters.

Christmas decorations

How to make natural fire starters

Take a heap of rosemary, bay, marjoram, thyme, Christmas tree needles and pine cones and if necessary, leave them somewhere warm to dry out. Then lay out a handful on a sheet of newspaper together with a little dried orange peel (which makes an excellent fire starter used on its own). I also added some empty walnut shells, a by-product of a banana and walnut cake baking session.

natural fire starter
Fold and roll up the newspaper, twisting the end to enclose your dried herbs. When you next lay the fire, poke a natural Fire Starter package in amongst the logs so that when you light the fire, the herbs will ignite and help the logs catch.

bunches of natural fire starters
You could do this any time of the year. Just select and dry the herbs and use them on barbecues or outdoor ovens. Instead of putting them into packages, you could hang them from a hook or leave by the fire to use a handful at a time.

*Christmas Eve is the first night of Christmas as our ancestors believed the day ended when the sun went down, rather than at midnight as we do. So Twelfth Night is the night of 5th January, the night before Epiphany.

23 thoughts on “what to do with your Christmas decorations

  1. Your aromatic fire-lighters look good enough to eat! I’m going to try this with the bay leaves and cinnamon sticks from my rather wind-blown wreath although they may take a week or two to dry out after the repeated soakings they’ve been subjected to by the weather before I can use them. Happy New Year, Anne! E x

  2. Oh these sound great. In the winter Sunday night is bath night in my house (my british roots shining through). I have a huge spa bath which came with the house, it is so enormomous it is a ridiculous waste of water (which I collect in tanks from the roof) so I rarely use it. Except on Sunday nights in the winter, when the fire has been going all day, it is great to jump out of the bath swaddled in towels and slather on the moisturiser in front of the fire. Winter is the time for citrus in this climate (Northern NSW) as well so I already use orange peel as a fire starter and put some on the top of the woodburner to make the house smell good as well, so this fragrant fire starter will be just great to add to the mix. Funny to think about that today when the temps here will hit 100 degrees!

  3. Hello Anne. These are great ideas. I can imagine how good they smell, this would work well in our outdoor wood oven. The walnut shells would burn well.

    There are people in my family who believe firmly in not taking down their decorations until the 12th night but I am afraid mine were all taken down days ago. With young children I find the decorations get re-arranged and fiddled with quite a bit and start to look tired and messy very quickly! It felt good to pack them up, clean up and move on towards 2014!

    1. I put big bunches of thyme into my outdoor oven in the summer. It made the fire smell good though I’m not convinced it particularly affected the food though maybe if I was cooking something delicate like fish then it would. I know what you mean about re-arranged decorations. Don’t fool yourself that it only happens when the children are young!

  4. I make our wreaths out of rosemary and thyme from the garden. When the season is over, they get placed next to the grill so they get used for smoking materials. I love your fire starters!

  5. What a delicious idea, Anne! Happy new year to you… may it be blessed with good things.

  6. I meant to make fire starters last winter but didn’t quite do it and even though it’s summer here I love the idea of drying herbs and even keeping bits of the Christmas trees for the winter fire. Great idea! Is your Outdoor Oven a pizza oven??

  7. I really like this idea and have used pine cones but not the orange peels, shells, or bay leaves. I’m going to make a few up to have them handy when I need them. With the subzero temps we’ve been having (that’s Fahrenheit not Celsius), it’s time for just snuggling up by the fireplace.

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