The build-up to Christmas can be fast-paced and hectic, especially for busy families. But getting out in the fresh air can provide a welcome respite for all ages. Being surrounded by nature can calm excited kids and soothe frazzled grown-ups, while the crisp air provides an invigorating boost. Plus, it’s a wonderful way to spend time together.

We’ve gathered some Christmassy activities to help you enjoy a weekend walk, or a family outing once the kids have broken up from school. So wrap up warm, pack a flask of cocoa and some mince pies, and head to the woods for some festive fun.

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Go on a Christmas scavenger hunt

At first glance, winter woods might appear brown and dull. But look a little closer and there’s lots to discover – from vibrant berries to colourful fungi!

Challenge your family to complete this festive scavenger hunt and find all eight items in nature. It’s great for developing kids' observation skills and you could spot things you’ve never noticed before. Can you find something…

  • fluffy like Santa’s beard
  • red like Rudolph’s nose
  • green like an elf’s outfit
  • white like mistletoe berries
  • orange like a snowman’s nose
  • round like a bauble
  • shiny like a gold star
  • curved like a candy cane?

Bonus points to whoever finds a fallen branch shaped like reindeer antlers!

Look for festive winter wildlife

Nature is at the heart of many of our Christmas traditions – from jolly robins on Christmas cards to evergreen decorations adorning our homes. While you’re on your walk, look out for:

  • a red-breasted robin – listen for its sweet tune!
  • scarlet holly berries amid spiky green leaves
  • ivy clinging to a tree trunk
  • knobbly pine cones lying on the ground
  • pointy needles on pine trees
  • a deer – it’s unlikely to be Rudolph, but it could be a red, roe, fallow or muntjac deer
  • funny-looking fungi – did you know turkey tail, scarlet elf cup and snowy waxcap are all real names for wild mushrooms?

Gather items for natural Christmas decorations

You can turn pine cones and twigs into wonderful decorations to use at home. They don’t have to be complicated to look really effective, and kids will love getting stuck into festive crafts.

A few fallen pine cones will look brilliant on your Christmas tree and can be used year after year. Leave them natural or paint them bright colours, then tie a loop of thread round them and hang them up.

Transform a fallen branch with some fairy lights and a handful of baubles. Place it in a vase and it will brighten up a gloomy corner or make a beautiful table centrepiece.

Before you set out, read our guide to responsible foraging and only take what you need.


Foraging for natural Christmas decorations

Helen Keating  •  01 Dec 2020

Transform your home into a woodland wonderland this Christmas with our easy ideas for festive, foraged home decor. 

Be inspired

Build a stick Christmas tree

If your children adore collecting sticks, they’ll love making this twig tree. Simply gather sticks in various lengths, then line them up from shortest to longest in a triangular tree shape on the forest floor. Can you find any fallen leaves to use as baubles and a star for the top?

Get creative and see what other festive designs you can make. How about a stick snowflake or a twiggy star?

To help us look after our woods, only collect sticks that have fallen to the ground. Please don’t break twigs off trees.

Read a book outdoors

Shake up story time and take one of your family’s favourite Christmas books on your walk. Snuggle up on a bench or find a log to perch on, then read it among the trees together. The natural surroundings and wintry air will make it feel extra special.

Explore snow and frost

A snowy woodland is a magical experience at any age – it’s like stepping into Narnia! Everything looks different covered by a blanket of fresh snow and sounds are muffled creating an enchanting hush.

It’s an exhilarating feast for the senses. Get excited as you leave the first footprints on an untrodden path and listen to the snow crunch under your boots. Hear icy puddles crack as you step on them. Feel the chill of snowflakes falling on your face. Breathe in the frigid air, then exhale and watch your warm breath form puffy clouds.

What else will you discover as you explore?

  • Admire the snow sparkling in the sunlight.
  • Spot animal footprints trailing across snowy or frosty ground.
  • Look for branches piled high with snow.
  • Observe how frost highlights tiny details on a fallen leaf.
  • Trace patterns on frosty branches or logs.
  • Look up to see glistening icicles dripping from tree branches.

Enjoy your festive fun

We hope these ideas inspire some memorable adventures this winter. Happy exploring and have a very merry Christmas!

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