Sam Schipani joins the fine folks at Treworgy Family Orchards in Levant for a wreath-making workshop. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

If you are partial to freshly cut, natural Christmas trees, you probably know they result in fallen needles and branches clipped to make sure the tree fits just right in your house. But did you know that those lovely scented needles and boughs can be used for a variety of different uses around the house?

Upcycling your Christmas tree clippings and needles will bring new life to the bits and bobs you would normally throw away. Here are some things that you can do with clippings and dropped needles from your Christmas tree.

Wreath

If you are willing and able to get a few extra materials, clippings from Christmas trees are perfect for making wreaths. You will need clippers, a crimped metal hoop, wire and wire cutters, in addition to about 7 to 10 pounds of clippings. Wreath rings can be purchased from Christmas speciality stores like Kelco Industries.

If you do not have a Christmas tree farm nearby or neighbors where you can source extra clippings from, you can consider creative alternatives to wreaths that will still make your door look festive and merry.

“You could also stuff the top of a stocking with pine or spruce clippings, winterberry, etc. and hang it on a front door as a unique twist on the classic Christmas wreath,” said Moriah Van Wyk, who creates crafts for the Etsy shop Maine Maid Primitives in Oakland.

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Weather sticks

The weather stick is a Maine tradition whereby a stick is mounted to the side of a building to be used as a natural barometer to predict the weather. If it points up, that indicates fair weather; if it points down, then foul weather is approaching.

Rob Moody from Moody’s Nursery in Saco said that he has seen Christmas tree clippings serve as excellent weather sticks.

“When hung on the outside of a house, the weather sticks will point up with high pressure, indicating good weather, and point down with low pressure, indicating the approach of inclement weather,” Moody said. “I could have used one this weekend.”

Scented pillows and sachets

Over the course of being in your house, needles will slowly fall off of your Christmas tree. Instead of sweeping them up and throwing them away, take advantage of that fresh pine scent all year round.

“Sweep up the fallen spills and make balsam pillows,” said Melissa Higgins, wholesale manager at Sprague’s Nursery in Bangor.

Moody said sometimes he will strip the needles from cut branches to use as potpourri, in sachets for the car or — his personal favorite — as stuffing for a small pillow.

“A few seconds in the microwave rejuvenates the balsam smell,” he advised.

Mulch

Christmas tree clippings are one of the many natural mulches that you can source for yourself for your garden.

“The boughs may be pruned off and used to cover tender perennials,” Moody said.

Keep in mind if you are choosing natural mulches that pine needles can be an inexpensive and effective mulch if they are available; because they tend to acidify soil slightly, they are best for crops like blueberries, rhubarb and asparagus.

Kindling

If you have a safe place for an outdoor fire, like a fire pit, save your Christmas tree clippings to use as much-needed kindling to get your fire roaring.

“They are excellent kindling for a bonfire, if used with caution,” Moody said. “They go up fast and hot.”

Crafts

There are a variety of crafts you can make from Christmas tree clippings. Consider making your own ornaments by using the clippings in creative ways. Or, take advantage of their unique shape for more elaborate crafts.

“We have enjoyed making prints by pressing the small branches and needles into air drying clay formed into small bowls or ring dishes,” said Elizabeth Jerome, who runs the Etsy shop ERJ Studio in Falmouth. “This makes a nice “souvenir” of each year’s Christmas tree, as we also carve the current year into the bottom of the bowl or dish.”

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