Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rustic Homemade Christmas Tree: Homemade Dried Fruit Slice Christmas Ornaments

When I was in 3rd grade, my class was studying Colonial America for history at Christmas time. Though in reality in colonial America Christmas was not exactly the major holiday it is today (in fact it was often outright banned in Puritan areas), we celebrated Christmas "colonial" style.

Some of our festivities included decorating a yule log and making candle holders by poking holes in tin cans with nails. One boy nailed a nail into his finger, which added a fair bit of excitement. We also made ornaments from apple slices.

To make your own fruit slice ornament you need a piece of fruit and some sort of hanger. I used ribbons on the apples, raffia on the oranges, and back in 3rd grade, we used small fabric bows and wire ornament hooks. Any of these will do fine.

First slice your fruit in slices no more than 1/4 inch thick. This can be tricky (note my pile of little mess-up shavings), and you want to make sure you have a sharp knife and keep your fingers tucked in. Please no one lose a finger slicing these. If you are doing an apple, cut right through the core. Personally the slices in the middle where there will be holes from the seeds are the prettiest ornaments.
Next you need to dehydrate your apples. I did this in a low-temperature oven over a couple hours. You can also use a dehydrator or simply leave them out to dry if you happen to live in an arid climate. I laid mine out on a cookie cooling rack on a cookie sheet to maximize the surface area through which water could escape. You can see in the picture that I covered my cookie sheet in a silicon baking mat. This was probably completely unnecessary for the apples and mostly unnecessary for the oranges (the latter did perhaps drip a bit). I pretty much always use these mats as they make clean-up a breeze.

As you can see in this picture, some of my apples browned a bit. This has to do with my sharing the oven with some polymer clay (since I wasn't planning on eating the apples, I figured it was okay), which required a 275 baking temperature. That is a bit high for these apples (I would suggest absolutely no higher than 250, but probably closer to 200). Once your apples are dehydrated, simply hot glue on your ribbon, raffia, ornament hook, etc. you could add some faux holly or pine sprigs for pizaz. I just went with the very plain for my purposes.

For those interested in durability, my original apple slice stayed with me for many years until one year when I opened my box of ornaments to find it rather on the soggy side. It survived Colorado and Seattle, but didn't quite hold up to the humidity of New England, it seems. Wherever you live, however, these should work for at least one year.

I love the rustic feel of these simple ornaments. Christmas has an air of olden times to me and I feel these ornaments capture that sense really well. Also they smell great. you could capitalize on that and add some spices to them before baking. With the oranges, you could decorate the outer peel with whole cloves to add some "colonial" bling.

I like the apples, but I must admit I have a bit of a soft spot for the oranges. Once they are dry they become a bit translucent and look like little stain glass windows when on a lit tree.

You may also like

Wax-dipped Paper Snowflake Ornaments

Baby Food Jar Christmas Ornaments

More Rustic Homemade Christmas Tree Ornaments


  1. I think the orange slices are especially pretty, too.

  2. At Festival of Trees, there was a tree that was decorated with these ornaments (as well as Popcorn balls, cranberry chains and gingerbread men), and it made me think of this post.

    1. I didn't even think of popcorn balls, but I do have the (fake) gingerbread men. I should finish that post, come to think of it.

  3. Could you use a dehydrator to dry out the fruit?

    1. I haven't tried it, but I don't see why not. Let me know how it goes if you try it!


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