This year, rustic chic is way in for Thanksgiving (and I suspect winter holidays as well). Instead of breaking out fancy crystal and Wedgwood, people are using simpler materials, everything from plain white plates to burlap.
Nature nurtures indoors as well as out -- as proven by all the pinecone crafts we've seen, the use of harvest corn and wild grasses, and yes, even the humble nut.
Using items straight from nature, like chestnuts, pinecones, and acorns, is the perfect way to pay tribute to that delicious, delicious meal you are about to receive.
Hands down, the acorn is my favorite element of the year. They come in zillions of shapes and sizes (some of them I'm not even sure are possible) as well as a multitude of colors. Just out around town, I've discovered normal brown, very reddish brown, and little black acorns! Each can serve its own purpose, just like any of the ones you find -- even the normally overlooked ones in the backyard.
Start simple: go out and gather up a bagful of acorns (or send the kids!). Quickly pick through them for the good ones -- if they look too dirty, wipe them down with a bit of Murphy's Oil Soap. And, this is important: you'll need to bake them at a low temp for about 20 minutes to kill any little things that may be inside.
Once that's taken care of, you are ready to go!
Wreaths are so pretty when adorned with acorns. Keep it simple and just hot glue acorns to a wreath form with a pretty bow.
If you are lucky enough to have different colors of acorns, use them to create rings.
Don't sweat having the caps -- even with un-capped acorns, this wreath is beautiful thanks to the texture and natural gloss of the nuts.
Picture frames sometimes just beg for extra attention. Use all your acorn caps to cover the front and sides of a smallish frame -- because let's face it, no one has time to cover a 16 x 20 frame in tiny acorn caps.
Once you've glued the caps on, you can seal them with a polycrylic spray or Mod Podge.
You now have the perfect frame to display a Thanksgiving photo -- or if you've used 2 x 3 frames, you have a cute placecard holder.
Fill a vase for the simplest possible use of your 'corns. Use them just plain or to anchor a floral display, like the glass pebbles florists use. Even simple willow branches would be pretty paired with the acorn base.
If you have a glass hurricane on hand, use the acorns as filler around a pretty cylinder candle.
Feel free to add little extras like a bit of raffia tied around the vase, hung with a gilded acorn charm.
Paint acorns for a cool twist on nature.
To avoid overdoing it, paint just the cap or just the nut -- that way you retain some of the natural aspect. The contrast between a modern paint job and nature's work is pretty cool.
A spin on painting is to gild the acorns. You can use metallic paint, but the texture and appearance of metallic leaf is really beautiful.
(Be warned: working with metallic leaf can get gluey and messy and is definitely not a kids' activity.)
Pile the acorns into a vase or bowl for display, string them up for hanging ornaments or a garland, or use them as adornments for the cool place cards you are making.
Make a pomander! This is my favorite, but I think it deserves a little twist. As is, this pretty piece is unscented. It's a simple styrofoam ball painted brown and then covered with acorn caps.
You can simply pin the ribbon in place before you start gluing down acorn hats.
As a holiday decoration, the perfect twist would be to scent the ball, just like a real pomander. Adding a few whole clove studs (they'll just push right into the foam) between some of the caps will add new texture and fill the room with a wonderful scent
Hang these anywhere -- including on each chair back as an elegant place card holder (just pin the paper to the ball or the ribbon!).
How would you use the delightfully free-yet-chic acorn?