Citrus Christmas Tree: Making Dried Orange Slice Ornaments

We’re back to share the second half of our tree-decorating adventure (sped up with a bit of festive music to get you into the spirit). We last left off with this video of us setting up our pre-lit artificial (faux? reusble?) tree only to discover that a strand of lights in the middle of the tree was out. But fixing it was as easy as listening for the buzzing bulb and replacing it with one of the extras they included along with our tree. Then it was time for the ornaments, and this year we decided to deviate from our usual white/glass/silver scheme (seen here). Maybe it was a weird citrus-pregnancy-craving-inspired decision, but out of nowhere I was jonesing for bright oranges, lime greens and lemon yellows… and a new color scheme was born. So here we are hanging some store bought ornaments mixed in with a bunch of DIY ones that we whipped up on the cheap. Oh yeah, and there’s a quick shot of baby belly at the end for everyone on bump watch:

And because we like to include a little video rundown for those at work who can’t just push play, here’s a shot of our tree all citrus-ified thanks to a ton of orange and lime green ornaments we picked up (on clearance at Michael’s) along with a bunch of DIY ornaments that we made to really hammer home our love of all things lemon and lime (after all, it was the theme for our backyard wedding). And adding pops of orange really complemented the green tree for a super festive and fun finished product.

We mentioned that beyond the glittering store-bought ornaments we jumped at the chance to hand make a few “natural” accents, so John came up with the idea of drying slices of oranges and lemons and turning them into ornaments. Love it. He’s really the brains of this operation in case you guys haven’t noticed.

Not only was it a fun and unexpected way to bring more of that festive citrus color to our tree, but it merely set us back a few bucks for two oranges and three lemons at the grocery store.

And luckily when we googled “dried citrus” we actually found a few tutorials (woo hoo!) and were thrilled when we pulled one up that was beyond simple. Step 1: cut citrus into quarter-inch slices.

Step 2: bake in oven on cookie sheet (actually a cookie rack if you have one, but we didn’t so we made do) for 2-3 hours at 225 to 250 degrees, checking often to be sure nothing’s burning. It helps to crack the oven door from time to time to release a bit of the built-up heat to encourage drying as opposed to singeing.

After a few hours (and a bunch of checking) we ended up with gorgeously dried orange slices that we couldn’t wait to add to our tree…

… and marginally less gorgeous lemon slices (they cooked less evenly and the seeds were a lot less attractive, so we’d recommend oranges over lemons for those of you looking to do something simple and stress free). Of course there were still some pretty lemon slices that we used as well (the good ones actually looked like stained glass when they dried) so they weren’t a total loss.

Then we just popped them onto pretty silver ornament hooks snagged for a few bucks at Pottery Barn (they’re a smidge cuter than those green wire ones from Target or CVS) for a delicious looking end product that’s especially eye-catching when it’s illuminated by the lights on our tree (so we learned to hang them a few inches in front of a white bulb for that sweet “glowing” effect). Favorite project ever. And we ended up with dozens of ornaments for just a few bucks.

*Bonus: we’ve heard that citrus can be used to discourage curious cats from climbing your tree, so if you have a faux or natural tree at home that you’d like to protect from a cat attack, these dried citrus slices might be just the thing.

We also turned three dozen faux lemons (we grabbed two large plastic tubs of them for $8 each at Ben Franklin) into “ornaments” by wiring them onto the end of a bunch of branches on our tree- just to inject more hits of yellow and add to our quirky citrus theme.

It was as simple as sticking “v-shaped” green wire (we purchased a spool of it for 99 cents at the craft store) into each of the foamy faux lemons so we could wind it around each branch to secure it. It was also a nice complement to all the hanging ornaments since we now had a bunch that appeared to be “sitting” on the ends of the branches. Easy and almost mouthwatering, no? Again, maybe it’s a pregnancy thing, but I could eat an entire lemon every day of the week.

We also picked up some pretty green pears from Target last year (during an after-Christmas sale) that were meant to be used as vase filler (see the little pear in the bottom right corner of the photo below?) so we just tied a loop of glittering silver ribbon to each of the stems to create a way to hang them up on the tree. Sure they’re technically not citrus but they work with the whole edible theme- and they’re perfect for our playful green, orange and yellow color scheme.

So that’s the tree-decorating rundown for ya complete with all of the homemade “ornaments” that we fashioned from things like vase filler, faux fruit and real fruit alike.

We love the punchy colors (which actually fit right into our living room thanks to the lemon-yellow rug) and the happy vibe that it brings into our entire home for the ho-ho-holidays. Oh and stay tuned for more seasonal decorating posts along with our favorite roundup of cheap-o holiday gifts coming soon.

But enough about us- we wanna hear all about your holiday decor. Do you have a new color scheme that you’re dying to break out this year? Or a tried and true “theme” on your tree that makes you smile every year? How about those whose theme is to have no theme at all? Anyone with a penchant for popcorn garland or edible candy cane ornaments? Do tell.

Psst- Looking for more holiday decorating and entertaining ideas? Check out this post, this post, this post, this post, this post, this post, this post, this post and this post to tide you over until we share even more in the coming weeks.


  1. Briel K. says

    Yay baby bump! ;)

    Cool theme idea! I was going to ask if your house smelled awesome after you baked the oranges and lemons but I see you already answered that above. Yuuummmy!

    • says

      Hey Danielle,

      Yup, for now we’re a one tree household (although we imagine when bambinos come along we might have a kid’s tree full of their handmade ornaments and adorable DIY projects). Hope it helps!


    • says

      Hey Jacquelin,

      We totally hit the jackpot with Burger because he is always so respectful of our stuff. No blanket/pillow/sofa chewing, no Christmas tree attacking, heck he doesn’t even think dropped socks are toys for him (amazing, right?). Of course when he was a puppy he chewed on everything (our hands, the bottom of our jeans as we walked, etc) but then we did about 20 obedience classes with him, so that probably shaped him into the well mannered dog that he is today. Or we just got lucky.

      Our best tip is just to reward your pooch for playing with the right toys (praise, happy clapping, excited smiles, even the occasional treat) and give them a stiff “no” when they play with something that’s not a toy (and then redirect them to the right toys and praise and reward them for that behavior). Hopefully soon enough they’ll realize that it’s a lot more fun to play with their stuff and get lavished with attention and praise. Hope it helps!


    • says

      We’re loving all the links to your beautiful trees! Thanks so much for sharing everyone. And Carson, your cowgirl Christmas tree is too funny! Yeee-haw.


  2. claire says

    i love it! i’m also a fan of citrus, so i think i just might have to copy this.

    did your drying research tell you how long those slices last? are you planning on throwing them out after this season, or do they live forever?

    • says

      Hey Claire,

      We do plan to carefully store our dried ornaments in a cool dry place (probably sealed in tupperware between rows of tissue paper) for next year. Only time will tell how well they hold up, but people sell dried fruit in potpourri and things like that (which seems to hold up pretty well) so we have high hopes for ’em. Stay tuned next year for the update I guess. Haha.


  3. Ashley says

    I absolutely love your tree! What a unique theme!

    Our tree is a total hodgepodge of the ornaments that we collect on vacations, sentimental Hallmark-y ornaments, and the usual glass balls. No theme. Maybe one day we’ll live somewhere that can accommodate a second tree so one can be pretty and themed out and the other can be the usual mess. Or maybe I’ll just discover new ways to display my ornaments around the house like you do. I already have some glass balls in hurricanes, but that’s the end of it.

    I just re-read your tree post from last year where you mentioned that you like the idea of being able to reuse your tree rather than tossing it to the curb every year, which reminds me of a study that I recently read. Apparently, the average artificial tree must be reused for 10-12 years before it has a smaller carbon footprint than a real tree. That number seemed high to me at first, but it makes sense when you think about the environmental benefits that a real tree has while its still in the ground, and the fact that they’re grown local(-ish, depending on where you live), but a fake tree is made from plastic and ships from China. This is probably old news to you, but I thought you might find it interesting. We’re totally on the faux bandwagon too, I just hope our tree stays pretty and functional long enough to make it count!

    • says

      Hey Ashley,

      We’ve read the same thing (although there seems to be an eternal debate among experts about which is better- faux or real- and so we always say that whatever works for your family is best since we never want to pressure people either way). We definitely plan on using (and reusing, and reusing) our tree for as many decades to come as it permits (heck, we’ll lean it against the wall when it no longer wants to stand on it’s own). Hope it helps!


  4. Loren says

    Great color scheme I love the idea of dried fruit for ornaments.
    We don’t have a traditional tree, because the year I moved into my first apartment it was Dec 15, I didn’t have any money for a tree so I set up the 10′ ladder my parents lent me that I’d been using to paint. We decorated it with a dental floss and star sticker garlands wrapped around it, Christmas cards taped on it and decorations from around the house sitting on the steps for ornaments, a BIG stuffed Batman body pillow for the ‘angel’ and then we piled the presents underneath.
    We’ve kept the tradition, I pulled the ladder out earlier this week, it’s a little better decorated than the first year, but it’s a fun (and eco-friendly) alternative to a regular ‘tree’.

  5. Carol N. says

    My tree is a sentimental mess of ornaments that I’ve gotten over the years for special occasions. It goes up in our sunroom every year. But the rest of the house is color-themed decorations. In the living room we have browns and oranges so that is the colors we use for the decorations. And last year I was able to score a bunch of orange and bronzy ornaments on deep discount (like 80% off) so stocked up. In the dining room it is more traditional reds and greens but the greens are more of a lime color than your usual Christmas green. We are still only a 1 tree fammily but I do have a second one that was my mom’s and will probably end up with a golf-themed one in the downstairs den.

  6. Erica says

    Your tree looks beautiful Sherry and John, so creative!

    Paige and Alicia – Target has plain cream colored stockings this year that are really nice looking. We have an addition to our family this year (our puppy) and we wanted a stocking that was neutral and would go with the stockings that we bought last year.

  7. Sarah says

    I have the sudden urge to redecorate my already decorated tree with a citrus theme. Looks fantastic! Love love love.

    My house sticks to a Green, brown, cream, and gold kind of little women, old fashioned Christmas feel.

  8. Carmil says

    Citrus green and orange were the colors of my wedding, so of course I love your tree!!!! I think I’ll do a smaller tree similar to this in my dining room, thanks for the inspiration! My darling, though ultra traditional husband has to have the tree with the mixed collection of ornaments or he would go crazy!

  9. Ana says

    Loved the music and your tiny baby belly. I had a baby in May, too, so I was the same size around this time :). Happy holidays!

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