Growing up, the holiday event I looked forward to more than anything else was the night we decorated the Christmas tree. We’d turn on holiday tunes, pour mugs of rich cocoa topped with plenty of marshmallows and get to work unpacking the boxes of ornaments we’d brought down from the attic. Later that night, we’d watch classic movies with bowls of popcorn as we savored the sight of our decked-out tree twinkling in the background.

I always remember unpacking the gilded walnuts my mom had made one year — simple shapes that added a touch of shine and a traditional vibe to the tree. Maybe that’s why I so strongly associate walnuts with the holidays; or maybe it’s the fact that some of my favorite treats at this time of year include walnuts as a main ingredient. As the first post in our new holiday series with California Walnuts, we’re sharing three handmade decorations we created using walnuts. I love the organic touch they add to any holiday table — and stay tuned for some deliciously unexpected ways to use them in the menu, too! Keep scrolling for the DIY details.

photography by kristen kilpatrick


DIY #1: Wooden Bead & Walnut Ornament Placecards

We created mini ornaments that served as placecards for our guests at the dinner table as well as a festive favor for them to take home at the end of the night. Scroll down for the list of supplies you’ll need and instructions on how to make your own!


Supplies You’ll Need:

  • California Walnuts (in-shell)
  • Large wooden beads
  • Small wooden beads
  • Small eye hooks
  • White & gold paints
  • Small paint brush
  • White string
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Kraft paper
  • White pen
  • Single hole punch


Instructions:

  1. Start by decorating some of your walnuts and beads with white and gold paint. You can leave some unfinished for a more natural look.
  2. Stick an eye hook into the top of your walnut. It should stick in pretty easily and stay put.
  3. Cut a 16 in. piece of string and thread it through the eye hook in your walnut. Tape the ends together to make it easier to slip the string through your beads.
  4. Start adding beads to your doubled-up string. You can alternate colors and sizes, and tie knots to add a little texture.
  5. Once you’re finished adding beads, trim off the tape and tie the ends on your string into a loop large enough to fit onto a branch of your Christmas tree.
  6. To turn your ornaments into a placecards, write your guests’ names on kraft paper with a white pen, and then use a single hole punch to create a hole and thread it through the top of your ornament.


We laid an ornament place card on the top of each napkin set at our place settings. Guests loved finding their designated spot, and having a handmade gift to take home and add to their own Christmas tree.

DIY #2: Holiday Nature Wall Hanging

Give your table a bold backdrop with this wall hanging that uses some of the most festive holiday cooking ingredients. Not only is this piece beautiful to look at, but its citrus-y fragrance will put your guests right in the holiday spirit!


Supplies You’ll Need:

  • California Walnuts (in-shell)
  • Oranges
  • Cinnamon sticks
  • Star anise
  • Pinecones
  • Large stick (or wooden dowel)
  • White string
  • Small eye hooks
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels
  • Cooling rack
  • Chef’s knife


Directions:

  1. The first thing you’ll want to do is dry out your oranges. Start by cutting your oranges into slices as thin as possible, then lay out your slices onto paper towels.
  2. Dab your orange slices with paper towels to get as much liquid as possible off of them. The less juice they have inside, the faster they will dry out.
  3. Set your oven to its lowest setting (we set ours to 200 degrees F). Then, place your orange slices onto cooling racks and stick the cooling racks into the oven for about 2-4 hours, or until your oranges are dry and crispy.
  4. To assemble your wall hanging, start by tying a string to each end of your stick so it creates a triangle at the top. This is how you will hang your piece on the wall.
  5. Then, tie seven strings along the center of your stick, evenly spaced out. Make sure to cut the strings significantly longer than you actually want the wall hanging. The string will lose length as you tie knots throughout the project.
  6. Stick eye hooks into the top of your walnuts – you can add a little hot glue to make sure they stay put. Start tying items onto your strings in whatever order you’d like. Then thread the string through the eye hooks on the walnuts and through the orange slices themselves. To attach the pinecones, star anise, and cinnamon sticks, we simply tied knots around each item.
  7. To create a pointed look at the bottom of your wall hanging, make the center string the longest by adding more items, and then taper off the ends of the strings moving outwards. Once you’re finished, trim off the excess string and hang on your wall for a beautiful backdrop to your holiday table!


DIY #3: Bountiful Holiday Table Runner

Add wow-factor to the dinner table with this natural holiday table runner utilizing California Walnuts, pinecones and eucalyptus. Taper candles add elegance and height variation, and guests have a clear sight line for easy conversation over this low centerpiece.


Supplies You’ll Need:

  • California Walnuts (in-shell)
  • Pinecones
  • Silver dollar or seeded eucalyptus
  • Linen table runner
  • Brass candlesticks
  • White taper candles
  • Matches


Directions:

  1. Start by laying down your linen table runner first. This is will create a designated space from which you can build the rest of your centerpiece.
  2. Trim branches of eucalyptus and lay them on the table, fanning out from the center. Tuck the ends of branches under leaves for a seamless look.
  3. Place your candlesticks and taper candles along the center of the table at alternating heights for a balanced aesthetic.
  4. Pepper the remaining empty areas of your runner with clusters of pinecones and walnuts to finish off your centerpiece.


Stay tuned for more festive ideas in our holiday series with the California Walnuts in the next few weeks, including savory dinner recipes, an apple cider bar, and a gorgeous holiday gathering!

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