Fun Things to do with Pine Cones

Everywhere I look around my house, I see pine trees. While they can present a hazard in terms of falling on houses in ice storms, they provide useful things like pine straw and pine cones.  I have stumbled across some really creative things to do with pine cones in the last few weeks and thought I would share.

You know what the best part of an abundance of pine cones is?  They are completely FREE! Yup… from pine cone crafts to homemade firestarters, nature has provided a simple and free resource and all you have to do is go grab them off the ground. If you have a lot of pine cones in your yard, here are a few ways to use them.

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black and white image of pine cones on a wood table


8 Things to do with Pine Cones

Gift decorations

The holiday season is coming and with it comes loads of gift giving. Wrap a Christmas gift in natural paper or a brown paper bag. Add some pretty ribbon or stamp a pattern onto the gift.

Then, creatively attach the pine cone to the gift box with either more ribbon, some yarn, or even glue. You could pass on a list of things to do with pine cones to your gift recipient if they are the creative type!

Pine Cone Bird Feeder

I am pretty sure that kids have been making pine cone bird feeders since the beginning of time. Just smear the whole thing with peanut butter and roll it in bird seed. Add a loop of string at the top of the pine cone and set your all-natural bird feeder out for the birds. Your feathered friends will appreciate it as the weather turns colder. 

Fall Centerpiece with natural elements

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Make a decorative centerpiece

This is one of my favorite things to do with pine cones during the holidays. Combine them with other aromatic ingredients or seasonal pantry items for a centerpiece that looks and smells wonderful.

Your holiday guest will love sitting down to a fancy dinner with the natural smell of pine in the air. Check out this simple fall centerpiece on Confessions of an Overworked Mom.

Natural air freshener

The easiest way to use pine cones is to just turn them into air fresheners. Place your pine cones in a decorative bowl. Add a few drops of essential oils and use them as a natural air freshener.

You could add pine to accentuate its natural smell but personally, I love cinnamon and cloves to add a wonderful aroma to the house! Add dried herbs or dried fruit to create an eye-catching display that costs pennies to make.

Make pinecone candle holders

Candlelight always makes a space feel cozy, and these DIY candle holders are the perfect way to add some warmth to your home this fall. All you need are some small pinecones, tealight candles, and hot glue.

Glue the pinecones around the edge of the tealight holder, letting the tips touch in the center, and you’re done! 

Or, dress up some votive holders with small pine cones. Simply glue or tape them around the outside of the candle jar and you’re good to go! 

Pine Cone Christmas tree crafts
String together a garland

This one is simple but effective. Just thread some string or twine through the center of each pinecone and hang them up for an instant fall style. Pine cones would look beautiful strung up in front of the fireplace or over a window.

Top off a festive drink

Add a touch of whimsy to your fall drinks by garnishing them with a small pinecone. Simply glue a small pine cone onto a toothpick or cocktail pick and use it to top off hot apple cider, pumpkin spice lattes, or any other festive beverage of your choice!

Pine Cone Crafts for kids

If you are the mom of young kids, you will love how creative they can get with pine cones. They can turn them into Christmas tree ornaments, tiny hedgehogs, or a number of other creative pine cone crafts. 

Just sit your child at the table with glue, glitter, pom poms, and pipe cleaners and see what they can create. 

Pine Cone Wreath

If you want to add a warm and inviting touch to your front porch, try making a pine cone wreath. Rustic wreaths are a wonderful addition to your natural holiday decor. 

Just get a natural grapevine wreath and add ribbon, pine branches, pinecones, and any other creative accents you enjoy.  Floral wire will help you adhere all your elements to the wreath itself.

If you are looking for more things to add to your wreath, check out the forest floor!  You may find other great decorative elements to add to your wreath. Just adding a simple wreath to your front door is a great way to get in the holiday spirit.

Pine cone burning in a fire

Homemade Fire Starters

Pine cone fire starters are great if you are into camping or just enjoy a nice fire in the fire pit in the backyard. (consider making your own fire pit as part of your next backyard landscaping project).

All you need to do is melt candle wax in a double boiler and carefully dip your pine cones in it. Let them harden on wax paper and use them in your fire pit. You can also make toilet paper roll fire starters if you love a good campfire. 

Pine Cone Place Setting

One little project I love is making homemade place settings for holiday guests. For your next fancy holiday meal, use a pine cone place setting to tell people where to sit. Paint the pine cone and attach a small wire loop to the top. Add a small place card to the top with your guest’s name.

Get the kids involved and let them paint the pinecones and add some glitter.  It’s a great way to help them feel like they are helping with your holiday get-together. 

Send out some festive cards

Greet your friends and family this season with DIY cards that are sure to put a smile on their faces. For this project, all you need are some blank cards, washi tape, fine-tipped markers or colored pencils, and of course, pinecones!

Simply decorate the front of each card with whatever else strikes your fancy, then glue or tape on a small pinecone in the corner. So easy but so cute! And yes, you will have to hand deliver these holiday cards, but that makes them even more personal. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a hand-delivered card decorated with pine cones!

collage of pine cone uses with text overlay 'things to do with pinecones'

Use Them To Grow New Trees

Pinecones are an integral part of the reproduction process for many species of pine trees. The cones act as a seed bank, storing the tree’s seeds until conditions are right for germination. Once the seeds are mature, they are released from the cone and can be transported great distances by animals or wind to start new trees.

You can help new pine trees get a head start by collecting and planting pinecones from your favorite trees. Here’s how:

  1. Gather cones from the ground beneath the tree or from low-hanging branches. Avoid cones that are still green or have not yet opened, as these will not have mature seeds.
  2. Place the cones in a paper bag and store them in a cool, dry place until they are ready to plant.
  3. Fill a planting tray or pot with moistened seed-starting mix.
  4. Place the cones on their side in the planting mix, burying them halfway. If you are using a tray, space the cones several inches apart.
  5. Water the planting mix well and place the tray or pot in a warm, sunny location.
  6. Keep the planting mix moist but not soggy. The cones will begin to open and release their seeds within a few weeks.
  7. Once the seeds have germinated, thin the seedlings to one per pot or cell. Transplant them into larger pots or the garden when they are big enough to handle.

hands doing pine cone craft with text overlay 'fun uses for pine cones'

How to clean pinecones for crafts

Since pine cones are out there in nature, they aren’t always clean when they come inside. Not all uses for pinecones require that they be CLEAN, however, for crafts and place settings, you might want to get rid of any dirt that is clinging to them.

1. Rinse the pinecones under running water to remove any loose debris.

2. Place them in a bowl or tub of soapy water and let them soak for about 15 minutes. You can also use a 10% bleach solution or dilute white vinegar solution to kill mold and mildew.

3. Use a soft brush to scrub away any remaining dirt or debris.

4. Rinse the pinecones well under running water. Make sure to scrub gently to avoid damaging them.

5. Place them on a clean towel to air dry completely before using them for crafts or other projects. You can also bake them in a low oven to dry them out more quickly. Bake them at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes.

Do you know any other ways to use pine cones?  If you have made a homemade wreath or are a huge fan of pine cone crafts, leave me a comment about how you have used these gifts from nature!

Here’s another post you might like!

10 Uses for Wood Ash When Your Campfire is Finished!

outdoor campfire with text overlay '10 uses for wood ash once the campfire is over'

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