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Family Christmas crafts

Written by Lucy Paul
Two young children wearing Santa hats sit at a low table, with their backs to the camera. The child nearest the camera is painting.
Make your own decorations this Christmas! | Image by Ground Picture/Shutterstock
Everyone dreams of a white Christmas, but here at the National Trust for Scotland we are also looking forward to a greener one! And with these family-friendly festive crafts, you can celebrate a more sustainable Christmas.

These fun craft projects are suitable for kids and adults, and are the perfect way to get the whole family together for a festive afternoon inside on the run-up to Christmas. Make a day of it, and spend the morning on a winter walk at home or at one of our gardens and estates to forage for some of the natural items you’ll need such as pinecones and twigs.

Check what’s open: our winter places

Pinecone Christmas trees

At this time of year, pinecones are plentiful in our gardens and grounds. So pick up a few until you find ones with the perfect shape, and get your paints out to create your own mini Christmas trees at home.

You could paint your pinecone green, and once it’s dry add in some snow with white paint on the tips. Then go in with some colours to add twinkling lights and tinsel. Or why not paint your pinecones a variety of bright colours and turn them into unique baubles! Get creative and try different designs.

What you’ll need

  • Pinecones
  • Eco-friendly paints
  • Paintbrushes (different sizes)
  • Ribbon, if you would like to make a hanging decoration for your tree. You could either loop the ribbon through the pinecone to tie it on or use a hot glue gun (only to be used by adults!) to secure it.
A young girl holds a pinecone in one hand and paints the bottom with yellow paint.
Paint the pinecones your favourite colour | Image by Sergey Kuznecov/Shutterstock

Twig ornaments

While you are foraging for pinecones, don’t forget to pick up some twigs along the way to make these ornaments. These star decorations are a plastic-free, zero-waste Christmas decoration. With twigs, string and a dash of creativity, you can make your very own stars for the tree or even a garland too.

What you’ll need

  • Twigs
  • String
  • Twine

And if you have any paint left over from your pinecone trees, your twig stars can be spruced up too!

Some tips for making your stars

  • Collect smaller twigs for your stars.
  • You’ll need five twigs of equal length per star.
  • Tie two ends of the twigs together and keep moving round until you’ve completed the star and each end is tied to another end. Little fingers may need help with the tying.
  • Then tie a loop of twine around it so you can hang on the tree.

Salt-dough Christmas ornaments

The most wonderful part about salt dough is that it’s easy to make and you will most likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen: you just need salt, flour and some water.

Your Christmas tree will be glistening with these homemade salt-dough ornaments!

Please note: for those with furry friends in the home, salt dough can be dangerous to pets if ingested – please keep out of reach of pets.

What you’ll need

  • 1 cup plain flour (plus extra for flouring the surface)
  • half a cup of table salt
  • half a cup of water


  • Large bowl
  • Baking paper
  • Baking tray
  • Rolling pin
  • Cookie cutters (Christmas shapes!)
  • Paints and/or felt-tip pens
  • A pen or pencil
  • Thin ribbon or string


1. Preheat the oven to its lowest setting and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

2. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add the water and stir until it comes together into a ball.

3. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and use your chosen cookie cutter shape to cut out your dough.

4. Use a pen or pencil to make a hole which you will use to thread through your ribbon after they are baked.

5. Put your finished items on the lined baking sheet and bake for three hours or until solid.

6. Leave to cool and then decorate using paint and felt-tip pens.

Hand-painted salt dough decorations in the shape of a star, bauble, gingerbread man and a Christmas tree lie on a wooden table.
Hand-painted decorations ready for the tree | Image by Lynne Ann Mitchell/Shutterstock