How to decorate with pine cones

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Pine cones are part of the reproductive system of pine trees. Larger pine cones, useful for decorating, are female, and can live for many years on the tree. Male pine cones are much smaller, and live only a few weeks.

Each petal, or scale, of a female pine cone contains an ovum, capable of being fertilised and creating another pine tree. If you have access to a quantity of pine cones, you can use them to create rustic decorations for your home.

Line a baking tray with aluminium foil. Place pine cones on the foil, and bake in the oven at 121 degrees C / 250 degrees F for 45 minutes. This kills any insects present in the pine cone and hardens the sap.

Glue small pine cones around the inside edge of a flat wicker tray to create a woodsy serving platter. Use a hot glue gun to secure the pine cones.

Fill a vase or basket with pine cones and use as a table centrepiece. Add bits of artificial greenery to fill out the basket or vase. Add artificial berries for more colour.

Apply cinnamon oil to pine cones. Pour 1/4 tsp cinnamon essential oil into the pine cone, letting the oil reach the centre of the cone. Arrange the scented pine cones in decorative bowls. Place the bowls throughout the house as natural potpourri.

Make pine cone swag for your fireplace. Drill 1/4-inch holes sideways, near the base, of at least 12 pine cones. Thread the pine cones onto picture-hanging wire, and secure both ends of the wire to each side of the mantle. Hang the wire from cup hooks or picture frame hooks.

Tie several pine cones together at their bases. Use florist wire to tie the pine cones, and glue a large bow to the group to hide the wire and the bases. Hang the arrangement on your front door for a natural "welcome" decoration.

Spray small pine cones with silver or gold paint. Tie ribbons around the base of the pine cones and hang them on your Christmas tree.