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The Christmas holiday is the perfect time to flaunt your flair for decorating. Here are some fun and unique ways to bring the outdoors inside for that Season’s Greetings party you’ve always dreamed about.

If you want nature inside for the holidays, you MUST begin collecting early. For the best decorations, keep your eyes open year-round. Items that can be found in the wooded areas or meadows include discarded bird nests, large seed pots; dried flowers and berries; citrus fruit including Osage oranges; walnuts and other nuts; pine cones, both large and small, and from a variety of evergreens; as well as colorful grasses, twigs and fragrant herbal plants.

Evergreen trees come in a variety of styles and shapes. Pick the one best suited to your family, or set up the artificial tree. Whichever tree you choose, whether it is pine, fir, cedar or spruce, all can and will be beautiful, once you’ve added your special touches.

If stringing popcorn, stale popcorn works the best. If stringing cranberries, use only fresh berries. In my experience, a plastic needle tends to keep the berry from turning brown as easily as a metal needle. Add pine cones, plain or spray-painted in plain colors or glittered. Or just add fake snow to cap them with. Using a thin piece of ribbon, about eight inches long, stick a straight pine through each end, creating a loop, then push the pin into the top of the cone. Keep a thimble handy, as some pine cones are very hard. If the pine cones are too hard, use glue.

Citrus fruits make beautiful homemade stained-glass windows when hung from the branches of the Christmas tree. Simply slice the fruit, place on cookie sheets to dry over a heating vent, or another very warm area. They also can be dried in an oven on low, but be aware that oven heating tends to make the fruit brittle and darker. Sprinkle with sugar for a sparkling affect, or leave undecorated to capture their natural beauty. Large nuts and seed pots are easily sprayed with gold paint or glitter, adding the much-welcomed sparkle.

Baskets filled with pine cones are beautiful accents around the hearth, near the backdoor, or as a centerpiece on the dinning room table. Since many pine cones drop early in the year, the scent may need to be refreshed with evergreen or cedar oil, which can be found in any craft store. A few drops will do the trick. Tuck evergreen boughs in to add color and texture, and to enhance the scent. A red velvet bow, or not? Your choice! Pine cones also can be dipped in egg whites, then rolled in cinnamon and other spices, to be later used in the fireplace for a quick aromatic pick-me-up just before guests arrive, or as gifts.

An inside wreath or swag created with flowering herbs, twigs, and berries is not only a graceful addition to your own wall, but it makes the perfect gift. The key to creating a wreath is to forget about being perfect. Any holes can be filled in later, and every wreath has it’s own appeal. Wreath rings can be purchased at craft stores, or made from a wire coat hanger. Simply bend the hanger into a circle, using the hook as the hanger. This size wreath is perfect for the front door.

Starting on the left side of the hook, secure wire. Then, using 10- to 14-inch stems and stalks, begin, adding about one handful of material at a time. Secure each bundle by winding the wire around the bottom of the material several times. Overlap the material tightly as you continue around the circle. Remember, texture can be added through the use of cinnamon sticks and twigs, so take advantage of your backyard landscaping.

When finished, the wreath will be full, colorful and aromatic. If there is a particularly large hole to fill, use a small bird’s nest or several larger seed pods. Deck the halls to perfection, then create a wreath for your backdoor, or as a gift for Mom and Dad. Using the same method, make a Christmas wreath with a mixture of evergreen boughs. Add a red bow, a bird’s nest, or a few berries, and you’ll be the talk of the neighborhood.

If using Hemlock be aware that its fine needles will eventually fall off, leaving a twig base. This base can be used for your next wreath, or as a gift to the birds. Simply smear peanut butter on it, dip it in birdseed, and hang it on the fence.

Osage oranges tucked into a wire egg basket add a delightfully old-fashioned feel to the home. Oranges, limes and lemons covered with clove studs and rolled in cinnamon or left in a bowl overflowing with spices, including bay leaves and lavender, is a definite attention getter.

Don’t be afraid to add fake snow, birds or tiny mice. After all, we are attempting to recreate nature inside of our homes, right? The greedy Blue-Jay makes a very attractive addition, looking for all the world like he’s about to pop a red berry or nut into his mouth and flee. A couple of mice burrowing into an old bird’s nest might be very charming, perhaps with a couple of wrens standing nearby wondering where they’re supposed to sleep. It’s your home, open the doors and let your imagination run wild!