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  • Pinto Carpentry

Celebrating Winter Solstice and DIY Yuletide Traditions

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

This year at Pinto Carpentry, we’re bringing in some new family traditions to our Christmas and Wintertime celebrations.  We’re exploring some fun ideas to get back in touch with nature, change our perspectives about the shorter daylight, and create beautiful memories to last a lifetime!

various winter items on a desk like an apple, dried twigs, cinnamon

Celebrate the Winter Solstice and Unique Yuletide Traditions

Celebrate the Changing light and seasons - Take some time to measure the light in the day by recording sunrise and sunset with your family.  Mark the times on the calendar and create a little festive graph to measure the change from Winter to lengthening Spring days.  Celebrate the shortened winter days and feast by candlelight as a family!  As you light the candles on the dinner table, set some positive intentions and well wishes for the upcoming year to bring some more “light” into the dark, dreary winter days.

Exchange nature and outdoorsy related gifts instead of store-bought  - Give your friends and family handmade gifts using natural and found components such as dried flowers, polished stones, twig ornaments, etc.  Consider gifting them some bulbs or seeds for their garden, or home-canned goods like jams, sauces, and salsas made from your own garden crops.  Gift a coupon for a “day in the park” or “weekend camping trip” to get in touch with nature again. (We’ve got some crafty ideas for you later in this post, too!)

Create a Yule Altar - A Yule Altar is created to welcome the return of the sun and the lengthening of the days. To create one, you’ll need golden, silver, or yellow candles to symbolize the sun.  Gather items that represent the winter season: pinecones, evergreen branches, pieces of cedarwood.  You’ll want to burn some sage or sweetgrass to cleanse the altar with positive intentions.

Sip some Yuletide “wassail” cocktails - Wassail is a festive warm drink with mulled spices consisting of: 2qts apple cider, 1.5 cups of orange juice, ¾ cup pineapple juice, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon sticks, and cloves.  You can also add a splash of Rum or Whisky if you wish. Another seasonal variation includes tossing in some cranberries while you’re mulling and simmering the spices and juice mix.

Burn a Yule Log in the Fireplace or a Fire Pit - Historically, Nordic tradition was to burn a whole tree across 12 days leading up to Christmas.  Since that’s not exactly sanctioned by apartment management or condo associations (and definitely not feasible for modern hearths) the Yule Log is a popular alternative. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Max also have several fun “Fireplace for the Home” options that are smoke-free. If you’re using an outdoor firepit, try some color changing fire pit powder for a magical memory.

Create a Solstice Pomander - You’ll need some toothpicks, very firm oranges, and a bottle or two of whole cloves for this seasonal craft. They look lovely hung inside, or make a beautiful outdoor decoration for your front yard’s trees or bushes.  Using your toothpicks, poke holes into your orange in a line around the middle, or get fancy and create a little pattern. Push the skinny side of the cloves into the orange into your pre-poked holes.  To hang them, poke a piece of long stiff wire through the orange, and create a little tear drop shape at the bottom for stability and one at the top for hanging.  You can wrap the wire with ribbon and a little dot of glue to hold it, or hang them by a ribbon from the loop.  As the orange dries, it will create a delicious smell in your home!

Put a Spin on the Traditional Dried Fruit Garlands -  We are in love with this spin on dried fruit garland like this fantastic woodland inspired mushroom decoration!  Try adding your personal spin by adding ribbon or string through the mushroom cap and hanging from faux pine garland, or turning them into individual ornaments. Just make sure you follow directions for curing and dehydrating fruit in the oven, and remember to keep them dry to prevent mold and deterioration for use next year.

Decorate a Wreath Together  - Snag a plain pine wreath from a local tree farm or stand.  Get some glue or some twine or festive colored yarn and attach some dried orange slices, pine cones, holly leaves, and ivy to them. You can also add some small salt-dough ornaments by tying them with ribbons.  Place it on your front door, or use it as a table centerpiece for your holiday dinners.

Make Salt-Dough Keepsakes - We love making memories together as a family, and that includes creating seasonal Salt Dough ornaments for the tree!  Whether you’re using a gluten-free salt dough recipe or the traditional kind of salt dough, it’s a cozy weekend at home.

Upcycle Scrap Wood and Shipping Boxes into DIY Ornaments and Garland - If you are into woodworking and building like we are, chances are you have lots of scrap lying around. Trying those large scraps of wood into little painted holiday houses and creating your very own holiday village!  Or cut thin slices and drill holes in the top for hanging, and create your own ornaments. Got a lot of shipping boxes left over from supplies or holiday gifts? Turn them into your very own Gingerbread House village, or cut them into fun gingerbread cookie shaps and create a cookie themed garland.

Create Nature Themed Ornaments - This year, we’ve made a commitment to decorating our home and Christmas tree with more handmade ornaments.  One of our family projects was to take old tinned food cans and mason jar lids, and turn them into ornaments. We glued fancy seasonal paper into the back of the tins and lids, glued in some moss, sticks, leaves, and other natural items on the bottom, along with little wild animal figurines. To hang them, we glued some festive seasonal cut ribbon on the back.

DYI nature themed ornaments

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