Dried fruit Christmas arrangement

How To Use Fruit For Making Christmas Decorations

Make your own natural, rustic Christmas decorations by drying fruit

Christmas is an expensive time of year so why not save some money by making your own decorations; drying your own fruit is really easy and if you are a fan of a natural, rustic style of decoration then this really is a no-brainer. Add a walk in the countryside, buy some cheap glue and string and you're all set to decorate for the festive season.

Citrus fruit can be cut into slices about 13mm (0.5”) thick, or the smaller fruits can be dried whole. Just place the slices or whole fruits straight onto the wire shelves in your oven and dry slowly on the lowest temperature. If they are not quite dry and you need to turn off the oven just take them out and leave them somewhere warm, for example a sunny windowsill or over a radiator. For the whole fruits make slits 13mm (0.5”) from the top down to 13cm (0.5”) from the bottom, evenly around the fruit. If you want to store them for future Christmas’ make sure they are thoroughly dry otherwise moulds will grow and ruin the fruit.

Dried apple slices

Apple, pear and fig slices can be thinly sliced, brushed with lemon juice and dried in the same manner as the citrus. Crab apples, rose hips and bunches of berries also make great decorations but they can't be dried as they just shrivel up and look most unattractive, so use them as late as possible, especially if in a warm room. Holly berries and rose hips, being hard berries, are the most resistant to going over before Christmas. Add cones, dried chilli peppers, nuts and cinnamon sticks to the fruit for extra interest.

Strings of dried cranberries look great threaded through a garland or looped round a wreath or Christmas tree. Place the fresh berries into a bowl and cover with boiling water, once they have popped, drain and dry. Place them in a single layer on some greaseproof paper on a baking sheet and leave in the freezer for a couple of hours; this helps with the drying process. Heat the oven to 350F, 177C, Gas 4 for 10 minutes. Turn the oven off and place in the cranberries on a baking sheet, leave overnight until they are dry. Thread onto waxed thread with a large needle and you have your garland. Place them between slices of fruit for tree decorations or add them to pine cones, nuts, whole dried fruit, cinnamon sticks and a fresh orange studded with cloves to a rustic bowl and you will have the gorgeous scent of Christmas and a decorative table centrepiece.

Once the fruit is completely dry you can varnish and sprinkle with a little glitter if you desire, but this is not necessary to make the fruit last longer. Store the dried fruit in an airtight container with a little rice to absorb any moisture and they should last you for several years.

Hanging dried orange & lemon slices and gingerbread Christmas decorations

You can attach the fruit to a garland or wreath with glue but you won’t be able to use them again, so if you want to use them year after year attach them with florists wire. String the citrus onto some ribbon and hang across a south facing window for a lovely stained glass effect. Stick slices of citrus around the inside of a preserving jar then place a small string of battery operated lights in the centre of the jar for a warm glow. Make tree decorations by stringing slices of fruit interspersed with colourful leaves or stick a slice of lemon onto a slice of orange and finish with a star anise. The slices or whole fruit can be strung and hung on the tree or combine with a piece of cinnamon stick. Fresh oranges studded with cloves can be hung on the tree for that lovely Christmas scent.

Collect some long birch branches with twigs from the woods or garden, add some small warm white LED lights, slices of fruit and some pine cones sprayed gold and you have a stylish, cheap alternative to a Christmas tree. For a cheap Christmas arrangement just collect some shorter twiggy pieces, place in a large vase, add some battery lights, short strings of cranberries and slices of fruit.

Decorate your napkins with home-made rings made from dried fruits, a small piece of pine greenery and a few berries wired to a piece of rough twine or copper wire fashioned into a loop. Use plain brown paper for wrapping presents, tie with rustic style ribbon and decorate with the fruit, pine branch and berries, just a sprig of holly (the sort without spiky leaves if possible!) or a few crab apples. 

If you have a favourite use for dried or fresh fruits as a Christmas decoration please share with us through the comments box at the bottom of this post.

Angela Slater
Daughter of a farmer and market gardener so have always had a connection with the outdoors, whether it was keeping animals or producing fruit, vegetables and cut flowers. Along with my work at Hayes Garden World I also have a smallholding, mainly breeding rare breed pigs. I gained an HND and BSc in Conservation and Environmental Land Management, as a result I am an ardent environmentalist and have a keen interest in environmentally friendly gardening. In my time at Hayes I worked for several years in the Outdoor Plant and Houseplant areas