Natural, Found-object Gifts

Wooden Reindeer

My family lives next to a golf course full of mature pine trees. We gather pine cones frequently. Our flower beds and gardens are full of them—yet the pine cones keep coming. So, we do crafts and make decorations with pine cones.

Last year Nature Mom did the same. She and her children spent an afternoon collecting pine cones, then they made holiday wreaths to give as gifts. After that, they spent weeks using the rest of the pine cones for crafts.

This year, Mr. Nature Mom made a beautifully simple family of reindeer out of old logs. Now, Nature Grandma wants a set. I doubt she will be the last to ask for these.

When grandparents say, “Give me something consumable” (the request we keep getting), that doesn’t have to mean cookies and candy. How about giving natural, found-object gifts?

What is abundant near you? What kind of found objects do you pick up on your walks?

  • Acorn caps – One year my children and I gathered acorn caps and made polished knitting needles out of most of them and little wool babies out of the rest.
  • Seashells – Punch holes in the shells to make jewelry (my daughter’s suggestion) or embed the shells in plaster to make a garden decoration.
  • Beach Glass – A bowl or a jar of beach glass is beautiful in a window. My mother-in-law lives near the beach and she collects glass and polished stones.
  • Colorful Fall Leaves – My daughter gathers leaves and writes messages on them.
  • Cattails – One year we created a bouquet of cattails for my mother. It’s important to put these back outside before they explode in an effort to spread their seeds far and wide. (Yes, I mention this because of sad personal experience.) They might do best as an outdoor bouquet.

Look around your own house and neighborhood, send your children searching for interesting objects. These can become cherished keepsakes or ephemeral but delightful natural gifts.

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