Lifestyle | November 07, 2023

12 Nostalgic Holiday Crafts

8 min read
Author: Rory Coulter
Photo by Cottonbro Studio
Photo by Cottonbro Studio


Enjoy some quality time with the whole family with our favorite nostalgic holiday crafts – from beeswax candles and popcorn strings to pomander balls and willow wreaths. 

Our Favorite Nostalgic Holiday Crafts

These simple holiday crafts offer a special opportunity to connect with nature and to experience the warmth of gathering around the table with friends and family where you swap stories, share laughter and reminisce about cherished memories. Scroll down for lots of fun ideas!

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1. Willow Wreaths

Creating willow wreaths for the holidays is a wonderful celebration of the beauty of the natural world. These wreaths, with their rustic charm and timeless elegance, capture the essence of the season and bring a sense of warmth to our homes. The process begins with a foray into nature, where we gather supple willow branches, a humble yet versatile material. Their flexible nature allows us to shape and weave with ease, and as we work, we connect with the earth and the changing seasons. In every twist and bend of the willow, we find a touch of nature's artistry. As we craft the wreath, it’s all about simplicity. No need for excessive adornments or elaborate decorations. Willow wreaths exude beauty in their minimalism. The graceful curves of the branches form a circle, a symbol of eternity and unity, and a blank canvas for creativity. A few pinecones, sprigs of evergreen, or a touch of ribbon can be added for a subtle, natural embellishment. The act of weaving the willow branches is a serene and meditative process, a time when we can slow down and savor each moment. It's an opportunity to immerse ourselves in the tactile pleasures of working with our hands and to appreciate the imperfections and irregularities that nature provides. Once completed, the willow wreath radiates a rustic and earthy charm. It speaks of simplicity and the beauty found in the raw materials of the earth. It is a reflection of the season's inherent elegance, mirroring the natural world's quiet transformation as it prepares for winter. When hung on the door or placed on the table, a willow wreath extends a warm and heartfelt welcome to all who pass by. It serves as a reminder of the joy that can be found in the simplest of creations and the deep connection we share with nature and the world around us during the holiday season.

2. Pomander Balls

Pomander balls, those fragrant orbs of nostalgia, evoke memories of bygone days when simplicity and tradition held sway. Their sweet, spicy scent can transport us to a time when life moved at a gentler pace, and the holidays were a time of wonder and anticipation. I remember the magic of crafting pomanders with my family, sitting around a table strewn with cloves and oranges. We would carefully poke the cloves into the oranges, creating intricate patterns and designs. The rhythmic push of the cloves into the citrus fruit released the warm and comforting aroma that was the essence of the holiday season. As the pomanders dried, they became objects of fascination and admiration, their colors deepening to a rich, burnished orange. Pomanders were not only a means of aromatizing our surroundings but also a symbol of love and care. They were often exchanged as thoughtful gifts during the holidays, a tangible expression of affection and good wishes for the recipient. To receive a pomander was to be reminded of the warmth and closeness of family and friends during the winter season. Today, when I catch a whiff of that same spicy, citrusy scent, I'm instantly transported back to those cherished moments of crafting pomander balls with loved ones. The world may have changed, and the pace of life may have quickened, but the power of scent to trigger memories and emotions remains as potent as ever. In the fragrance of a pomander, I find a connection to a simpler, more heartfelt time, and I'm reminded of the joy of traditions passed down through generations.

3. Cranberry Sauce

Ocean Spray cranberry sauce will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s not just a condiment; it's a touchstone, a vessel for memories, and a reminder of the simple, heartfelt pleasures of the holiday season. That iconic, jellied crimson cylinder emerging from the can with a satisfying plop has the power to transport me back through time calling to mind the warmth of my dear mother and the cherished family traditions she created. While it’s impossible to beat Ocean Spray, this favorite recipe comes close!


  • Cranberries, 3 cups
  • Orange, enough to squeeze 1 cup of juice
  • Water, 1 cup
  • Sugar, 2 cups
  • Ground Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon
  • Ground Cloves, 1/4 teaspoon

Cranberry Preserves:

  • Bring all the ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan.
  • Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Put jam in a blender and pulse until smooth.
  • Enjoy!

4. Popcorn Strings

Popcorn strings, those humble, handcrafted decorations, hold a special place in the tapestry of holiday memories. I remember sitting by the heater, a bowl of warm, buttery popcorn at my side, and a needle and thread in hand. The process of stringing the popcorn kernels was an art in itself, a labor of love that required patience and a sense of togetherness. Each plump, white kernel was carefully pierced with the needle and added to the growing string, which would soon become a glistening garland of holiday delight. The act of stringing popcorn was a family affair, with everyone coming together to create these homemade decorations. As we worked, the room was filled with laughter, stories, and shared memories. The finished garlands, adorned with its clusters of crimson cranberries or shiny tinsel, were a labor of love and creativity that transformed our home into a cozy winter wonderland. When those popcorn strings were hung on the Christmas tree, their simple beauty shone through. Each kernel held the essence of our family's joy, warmth, and unity. The twinkling lights illuminated the strings, casting a soft glow that enveloped the room and made it feel like a magical place where time seemed to stand still. Today, the tradition of stringing popcorn may be less common, but its memory remains etched in our hearts. It's a reminder of the power of simple, handmade creations to evoke nostalgia, bringing us back to a time when the holidays were all about the people we cherished, the love we shared, and the joy we found in the little things.

5. Beeswax Candles

Creating beeswax candles is a heartwarming journey into the world of craftsmanship, where beauty and simplicity come together with the bounty of nature to evoke a sense of nostalgia. These candles, made with care and love, are more than just sources of light; they are symbols of tradition and a connection to the past and serve as the perfect heartfelt, handmade gift. For hand-rolled beeswax candles, the process begins with the warm, honey-scented beeswax sheets, their golden hue reflecting the labor of bees and the bounty of nature. With each gentle touch and roll, the wax transforms into a luminous cylinder of light. Hand-dipping, another method of candle crafting, involves layering the wax repeatedly, building the candle's form like a delicate cocoon. In this craft, there are no complex machinery or high-tech tools—just your hands, a simple wick, and the beeswax. The beauty lies in the manual labor, in the rhythm of rolling or dipping, in the subtle imperfections that make each candle unique. As you create these candles, a wave of nostalgia washes over you. You're reminded of the time when such candles were a common sight, and their gentle glow illuminated homes long before the age of electric lights. There's a connection to generations past, to a simpler way of life. As the candles burn, the room is filled with that warm, familiar fragrance, transporting you to a time when the holidays were about homemade decorations and the cozy glow of candlelight. 

6. Mulled Wine

Mulled wine (Glühwein in German), with its fragrant spices and warm, inviting aroma, is a delightful reminder of cozy gatherings and the comforts of the holiday season. Sipping a steaming cup of mulled wine conjures images of crackling fires, snowflakes falling gently outside, and the sound of laughter filling the air. Mulled wine isn't just a beverage; it's an experience. It encourages us to slow down, gather around, and savor the moment. Whether shared with friends and family at a holiday party or sipped quietly by the fire, it evokes a sense of togetherness and celebration. It's a reminder that even in the midst of winter's chill, we can find comfort and joy in the simple pleasures of life. Note: This delicious recipe works just as well with non-alcoholic red wine.

Ingredients: Water (3/4 cup), Sugar (3/4 cup usually does the trick), Grounds Cloves (1/4 teaspoon), Cinnamon Stick (1 for every person), Star Anise (1 for every person), Cardamom (a couple pods), Orange (the juice of 1 orange + thinly sliced peels of 1 orange), Red Wine (1 bottle)

Instructions: Bring water, sugar, ground cloves, cinnamon sticks, star anise, orange juice, and orange peels to a boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add wine and warm, but don't bring to a boil. Serve in hearty mugs with a fresh cinnamon stick.

7. Froebel Stars

Froebel stars, also known as German stars or Froebelsterne, are a type of traditional paper ornament created by Friedrich Froebel, the founder of the Kindergarten movement. He believed in the importance of nurturing creativity, curiosity, and the holistic development of children and created the stars to help little ones develop fine motor skills and spatial reasoning. Over time, these paper stars gained popularity as holiday decorations. People started creating and hanging them during the Christmas season, and the tradition spread. The stars became associated with the festive spirit of Christmas and were often made in a variety of colors and sizes to adorn Christmas trees and homes. These delicate and intricate paper ornaments evoke a deep sense of nostalgia and wonder. They transport me back to a time when the holiday season was filled with the magic of crafting, creativity, and the anticipation of decorating our home with handmade treasures. To create them is a labor of love and patience, a craft that requires a steady hand and a keen eye for detail. The rhythmic process of folding and tucking becomes a form of meditation, a way to escape the hustle and bustle of the world and immerse oneself in the joy of creation. Completed Froebel stars, with their intricate, three-dimensional patterns, are nothing short of mesmerizing. These stars were not just ornaments; they were tokens of affection and dedication. They are a testament to the value of handmade craftsmanship and the art of gift-giving, where the effort and love invested in creating something beautiful is as important as the final result.

8. Coddled Apples

Coddled apples are the epitome of comfort and tradition. They harken back to the days when families gathered around the hearth, and the heart of the home was the kitchen. The practice of codling apples has a long and storied history that dates back to medieval times. The term "coddling" itself has its roots in Middle English, where "codel" meant "a soft bag" or "a purse," possibly referring to the apples being cooked until they became soft and tender. In the 17th and 18th centuries, coddled apples became a common feature in British and American cooking. The addition of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves, along with sweeteners like sugar or honey, gave coddled apples a warm, comforting flavor that made them especially popular during the fall and winter months. Start by selecting firm, ripe apples, which are then carefully cored, leaving them whole or halved. Once nestled in a pot, they are bathed in a sweet concoction of molasses, cinnamon, and a hint of citrus and stuffed with brown sugar, raisins, and nuts. As they gently simmer on the stove or in the oven, the fragrant scent of spiced apples begins to permeate the air, filling the kitchen with an irresistible aroma. Their preparation, with the simple act of simmering, is a ritual that invites togetherness and encourages us to slow down and savor the moment. Their sweet, spicy essence and inviting, warm texture make them a comfort food for the soul, perfect for chilly winter nights or festive gatherings.

9. Dried Orange Ornaments

Dried orange ornaments are a charming and natural way to add a touch of rustic elegance to your holiday decor. These fragrant decorations are not only visually appealing but also easy to make, allowing you to infuse your home with the warm and inviting scent of oranges during the festive season.

Materials: Oranges, Sharp knife, Baking sheet, Parchment paper, Twine or ribbon

Instructions: Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature setting (usually around 170°F or 75°C) or use a dehydrator if you have one. Slice the oranges into thin, even rounds, about ¼ inch thick. Blot any excess moisture from the orange slices with a cloth or paper towel. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the orange slices on the baking sheet in a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and let the orange slices dry for several hours. The low heat will help to preserve their vibrant color and scent. Once the orange slices are completely dry and have become slightly translucent, remove them from the oven. While the dried orange slices are still warm, use a needle or skewer to create a small hole near the top of each slice. Thread twine or ribbon through the hole to create a loop for hanging. Once the orange slices have cooled, you can hang them on your Christmas tree, in windows, or as decorative accents throughout your home.

10. Beeswax Ornaments

Creating beeswax ornaments using beeswax sheets and cookie cutters is a fun and creative holiday craft that not only provide a charming, homemade touch to your holiday decorations and gift wrapping, but they also fill your space with the sweet, subtle scent of beeswax. They're a delightful addition to your festive celebrations and make for thoughtful gifts as well.

Materials Needed: Beeswax sheets, Holiday-themed cookie cutters, Parchment paper or wax paper, Awl, Twine or ribbon

Instructions:Press down on the beeswax sheet with a cookie cutter to create an ornament shape. Use an awl or some other poker to create a small hole near the top of the ornament. Thread a piece of twine or ribbon through the hole and tie a knot at the top to form a loop for hanging. Hang your beautiful beeswax ornaments on your Christmas tree, garlands, or throughout your home to add a touch of natural elegance to your holiday decor.

11. Paper Snowflakes

Making paper snowflakes, those delicate and intricate creations, is a cherished journey back to the days of childhood wonder and simplicity. It's a timeless art form that captures the magic of winter and the joy of crafting with a piece of paper and a pair of scissors. The process begins with tracing circles with a cup, cutting them out, carefully folding each into a small, neat triangle, and then, with scissors in hand, the real magic unfolds.  As the blades dance across the folded paper, carefully snip away small pieces, creating patterns and designs that transform the paper into a work of art. Each snowflake is a unique masterpiece, and with each cut comes a sense of anticipation and excitement. The process was both calming and meditative. As you unfold the paper, the true beauty of the snowflake is revealed. Its delicate, lacy patterns are a testament to the natural wonder of snowflakes, each one unique and ephemeral, and our ability to capture a piece of that wonder with a simple craft. Paper snowflakes, with their intricate designs and delicate beauty, have the power to transport us to the wonder of winter's first snowfall. They remind us that the magic of the season is often found in the most unassuming of creations, where imagination and a humble piece of paper can create a world of wonder.

12. Peppermint Soap

Peppermint soap is a festive indulgence and fun tradition that elevates the spirit and makes the holiday season even more special. Its invigorating scent and cooling sensation evoke memories of candy canes, winter wonderlands, and the joyful spirit of the holidays. With each lather, you're enveloped in the crisp, refreshing aroma of peppermint, which instantly awakens the senses and imparts a feeling of vitality. Beyond the sensory experience, peppermint soap offers practical benefits too. Its natural antibacterial properties are ideal during cold + flu season and its soothing quality makes it perfect during the winter months when the cold and dry air can be harsh on the skin. Handmade peppermint soaps for the holidays are not only a joy to create but also a wonderful gift to share with friends and loved ones. To craft these festive soaps, you'll need a few key ingredients and a touch of holiday spirit!

Ingredients: Peppermint Essential Oil (This is the star of the show, infusing your soap with that classic, invigorating peppermint scent.) Glycerin Soap Base (You can purchase clear or white glycerin soap base online or from a craft store. It serves as the foundation for your soap) Small Soap Molds.

Instructions: Cut the glycerin soap base into small, uniform pieces and melt it using a double boiler. Once melted, add a drops of peppermint essential oil. Adjust the amount to achieve your desired scent. Carefully pour the mixture into your soap molds. Allow the soap to cool and harden. This usually takes a couple of hours, but it's a good idea to let them set overnight for best results. Gently remove the soaps from the molds once they're fully set. Wrap in glassine paper or place in organza bags.