Foraging for Christmas

While foraging to most people is about food, you can also forage for non-edible items from the hedgerow, wood and shore. My runner bean poles and pea sticks are all hazels out of the hedgerow, bits of drift wood make nice ornaments (or light-fittings – hello sister!) and, as it is the Christmas period, sources of decoration for the house and table can easily be found in the garden or not too far from home. Like wild food, you can buy them already made, but the fun (for adults and kids) is in the gathering and making. Spending money on Pine cones seems as mad to a forager as buying nettles!

"Cone and holly" by Petr Kratochvil - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
“Cone and holly” by Petr Kratochvil – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

What to gather

The usual foraging “good manners” apply – pick a bit here and a bit there, only take some of what is common etc.

  • Old Man’s Beard
  • Seed heads
  • Bare or lichen-covered twigs
  • Branches
  • Ivy*
  • Holly*
  • Mistletoe*
  • Pine or evergreen foliage (Conifers, Laurel*, Holm Oak, Yew* etc).
  • Garden herbs – Sage, Rosemary etc.
  • Pine / Larch / Fir cones
  • Rose hips*
  • Ornamental crab apples – reds, pinks and yellows
  • Hawthorn berries
  • Chestnuts – in husks or taken out (not Horse Chestnuts)
  • Hazelnuts
  • Walnuts
  • Moss

*NB – Leaves and berries of these are poisonous (some fatal) if consumed! Do not bring into the house if you have children or pets. Rose hips contain seeds with hairs on that are an irritant (childhood “itching powder”).


Other things you might need

  • Garden wire
  • Metallic spray paints or glitter – gold, silver, red or white
  • Flax cord, ribbon, hessian, raffia or twine for decoration

What to do / make

  • Wreaths
  • Tree decorations – spray them or tie ribbons, add a thread or wire loop to hang on the tree
  • General decorations – make a longer “string”  to hang on pictures, the bookshelf, banister etc
  • Napkin rings
  • Table decorations – fill small jars, glasses or pretty ice-cream dishes with nuts, berries or arrangements
  • Present decorations – tie around the necks of jars and bottles of home-made jam and sloe gin
  • Decorate a branch – add lights and tree decorations
  • Cake decorations (avoid poisonous species!)