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Bring the outside in this Christmas

There's nothing more Christmassy than a real fir tree in your living room, bringing a beautiful fresh pine scent into the home. You don't have to stop there though – the forest is a great source of festive decorations as well as surprising food and drinks, to bring natural cheer to your Christmas.

If you are spending Christmas at one of our forest locations you'll find a real Christmas tree in your cabin, which has been sustainably-sourced from a UK forest under the stewardship of the Forestry Commission. It’s just waiting for you and the family to decorate it! We've already included some natural rustic decorations and here are some ideas for creating a festive feel using materials from the forest, a touch of sparkle, and a sprinkling of imagination.

Gathering supplies

The first thing you need to do is go outside for a long walk and see what materials you can find. You never know what might make a pretty decoration until you put everything together. Follow our self-led Christmas trail through the forest and gather materials as you go. Plus, answer all the clues and you’ll win a fabulous prize back at the Forest Retreat.

Pine cones, leaves, twigs, and small branches from fir trees all make pretty additions to your decor. Don’t forget the holly and ivy, of course, and we’re sure there will be some brightly coloured berries and touches of moss about. Gather them up, and get creative!

Yuletide pine cones

Pine cones are easy to find and perfect for creating a Christmas atmosphere without too much fuss. Pop down to the craft shop and choose some brightly coloured glitter, ribbons, paint and PVA glue. A few tinkling bells and some tinsel will come in handy, as well. Paint the tips white for a snow-dusted look and add glue and glitter for a sparkly finish.

Add ribbons to hang them from the tree, or thread them together to drape across a shelf. You can cut away some of the scales and add a face to make hedgehogs or add some acorn cups to make these cute little Christmas mice.

Snowflakes sparkling

Our personal favourites are these beautiful rustic snowflakes. Tie or glue together some twigs to create a simple snowflake shape or even a star – and then get as creative as you like, adding pine needles, berries and tinsel.

Gold paint and glitter come in handy if you like bright colours, or leave the twigs bare for a natural look. You can hang them on your Christmas tree or in the windows.

Christmas wreaths

Creating your own wreath is truly satisfying. You’ll need to bend lengths of wire into circles to provide your structure – or simply buy one ready made from rattan or willow from the craft shop.

Then weave in your holly and ivy, and decorate with berries, pine cones, some tinsel and a couple of baubles, in any colour or design you prefer. If you are staying with us in the forest, hang your wreath on your cabin door, then head off to the Forest Retreat to join in with some carols and our charity quiz.

Berry Christmas

The forest provides more than just decorating materials! It’s full of food, ripe for creating delicious festive treats – but always check before you eat; some berries, such red holly berries, are poisonous.

Have you discovered bullace? It’s a purple-black berry, similar to the damson, that is found in hedgerows across the country. A slightly tart member of the plum family, it is perfect for making your own preserves, crumbles and even fruit liqueurs. Although it’s a late-ripening fruit, we may have just missed this year’s crop. Make a note for next year though and you could have jars of delicious vodka bullace liqueur to give as Christmas gifts in the future.

Pine needle tea

Pine needles can be brewed into a lovely healthy cup of tea, something warming to come home to after a day in the woods. The seeds found inside the pine cones can be eaten as well – toast or roast them for a healthy alternative to peanuts! Ask your Forest Ranger for some tips.

Roast chestnuts

Roasted chestnuts are a traditional Christmas treat - no open fires needed, you can roast them in the oven. You’ll find plenty of sweet chestnuts on the floor around the tree, where they drop when ripe. Cut a cross into them with a knife before roasting, to stop them exploding.

Sweet chestnuts also make lovely additions to the Christmas pudding or the turkey stuffing. In fact, you can use them in stews and soups, or team them with chocolate for decadently sweet dishes.

Spend Christmas in the forest

The forest is a magical place to spend Christmas, and our festive breaks are a lovely way to combine a family Christmas with a relaxing break. Bring your extended family together in multiple cabins, close to each other – giving you all the space you need for large gatherings.

Slow down and take a breath of fresh forest air, decorate your cabin with your rustic decorations and enjoy a magical holiday. Book now and relax, knowing everything is taken care of.