These dried orange slices with star anise make the prettiest, natural and fragrant DIY Christmas ornaments for your tree! They’re so simple to make and look like glowing, stained-glass windows!
All you need is 5 oranges, star anise, a needle and thread and a few hours of your time.
This year, I wanted my Christmas tree to be entirely decorated with natural ornaments. No plastic, no tinsel, just guilt-free, elegant, all-natural prettiness (except for the lights, of course).
I used roses and lavender bunches, baby’s breath “snow” and these pretty little oranges, and it turned out to be the most colorful Christmas tree I’ve ever seen!
What You’ll Need:
- 5 oranges
- Star anise (enough for all your slices)
- A sharp knife
- A needle and brown (or dark) thread
How to Make Dried Citrus Christmas Ornaments – Step by Step
1. Slice your oranges with a sharp knife about a half-centimeter to a centimeter thick. The thinner they are, the more transparent they’ll be, but make sure not to cut them too thinly. They’ll warp and curl if they’re thinner than a half-centimeter.
2. Place them on a baking pan on top of a grate so the heat can circulate around them, and place them in the oven. Bake them at 200 F. degrees (93 C.) for 4-6 hours.
3. Once dry, let them sit for about a half-hour to cool. Place star anise in the center of the oranges and use a brown or dark thread to attach them. You only need about 2 stitches to secure them. Don’t worry if they’re not completely dry. They’ll continue to dry on your tree for the next few days.
4. I find it’s best to thread through the orange, leaving a bit long so you can easily tie the thread in a knot once it’s secure. Simply sew through the top of each orange to create a string to hang it with, and place it on your tree.
You’ll simply pop them in the oven at 200 F. (93 C.) for about 4-6 hours. It all depends on the thickness of your oranges, so after 4 hours, see if they’re still a bit wet.
You’ll know they’re done when they’re only slightly bendable. If they’re not completely dry, don’t worry, they’ll continue to dry over the next few days on your tree.
The best time to make them into ornaments is actually a day or 2 after drying in the oven because the centers might still be a bit wet after they come out. Giving them a day or 2 to further dry out on a countertop really makes sure they’re nice and completely dry, but depending on how thinly you sliced your oranges, they might be ready to go right out of the oven.
You can use just about any kind of orange – Valencia, blood orange, tangerine, clementine… you can even use other citrus-like limes, lemons or grapefruits! The main thing you’ll want to look for is the thickness of skin.
You don’t want to use citrus that has very thick skin, so go for the thinner skinned varieties.
Nope! Once they’re dry, they’re dry and won’t mold. However, like all organic material, they’ll age and may not look as pretty next Christmas, so don’t bother packing them up with the rest of the ornaments. Make more next year!
Here Are a Few More Christmas Crafts and Cocktails!
- How to Make Natural Cotton Christmas Garland
- How to Make DIY Christmas Tree Decorations
- The Godiva Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail
- How to Make Homemade Flower Ornaments
- A RumChata Coconut Snowflake Cocktail
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How to Make Dried Citrus Christmas Ornaments
- sharp knife
- baking pan with grate
- a needle and brown (or dark) thread
- 5 oranges – thinly sliced
- 25 star anise
- Slice your 5 oranges with a sharp knife about a half-centimeter to a centimeter thick. The thinner they are, the more transparent they’ll be, but make sure not to cut them too thinly. They’ll warp and curl if they’re thinner than a half-centimeter.
- Place them on a baking pan on top of a grate so the heat can circulate around them, and place them in the oven. Bake them at 200 F. degrees (93 C.) for 4-6 hours.
- Once dry, let them sit for about a half hour to cool. Place star anise in the center of the oranges and use a brown or dark thread to attach them. You only need about 2 stitches to secure them. Don't worry if they're not completely dry. They'll continue to dry on your tree for the next few days.
- I find it’s best to thread through the orange, leaving a bit long so you can easily tie the thread in a knot once it’s secure. Simply sew through the top of each orange to create a string to hang it with, and place it on your tree.
I used hot glue to anchor the star anise on to the orange slice and it worked wonderfully. I also used blood oranges – also now called raspberry oranges because of the red and orange coloring the slices resembled to me like beautiful cathedral windows with or without the star anise. Also, just a tip here – star anise in your typical grocery store was $12 for a small jar. I purchased a whole bag in bulk at a natural grocery store for just a few dollars. Thank you for this lovely article. This is the first year I’ve made these and I gave some as gifts to a few friends that were so impressed and charmed by them.
Awesome! Thank you for your input! Glad you enjoyed the article. I wish I could find raspberry oranges. That must look so pretty! And I know what you mean about the price of star anise. It’s steep – at the end of the season, I remove them from the oranges and just use them the following year, but that was a great idea to do a little more digging for a better price. It really ranges depending on where you look for them, for sure.
I’m in love with this tree!! Did you make the dried flowers or buy them? Please give details if you made them. Also, does the baby’s breath not go bad after being on the tree for a couple weeks?
Thank you very much, Lauren! I bought the flowers and dried them myself. There was a sale of roses so I bought about 6 dozen. The baby’s breath looks prettiest when it’s fresh on the tree, but it actually dries quite nicely. It just shrinks a bit, but it still stays white for at least 3 months. If you want to see how I made the flower ornaments, take a look at this post, and thank you again! https://www.shekeepsalovelyhome.com/homemade-flower-ornaments/
I have to agree not much fragrance to them when they are done is there any thing that can be added to them other than anise star or can we put cinnamon on them for added smell or anything of Christmas smell?
I’ve seen people attach cinnamon sticks, and that looks really pretty. You can also get a little fancy and add some dry lavender or other floral accents. Another thing to try would be to pierce the orange rind with a few cloves before you put the oranges in the oven! That would really give them a Christmas smell 🙂
Do you know how these would fair outside? I am thinking about turning this into a garland to hang outside. Maybe weave into some traditional pine garland or string together with pine cones. I have a new orange front door and trying to figure out to not clash and have a more modern look. Have you shellacked these before? Thoughts on weather proofing. TY.
That sounds nice. I suppose it depends how exposed they are to the elements. Are they on a wreath that needs to withstand the rain? Is there a porch protecting it from precipitation? I haven’t placed them in water after they’ve dried and I haven’t shellacked them, so I’m not exactly sure how they’d hold up if they were directly rained on or snowed on. But if they’re only meant to last for a season, I think they would be perfectly fine if they’re on a front door wreath that’s under an awning.
I’ve put my tree in the kitchen this year, and this would be a great decoration to add. Are you tying the star anis on with the string and knotting it on the back?
Yup! I basically use a needle and thread to sew through, then I hold the star anise to the orange slice, then I sew across it, pulled the thread tight, and tie the thread in the back 🙂
Once they are dry, is there much fragrance from the oranges?
Not really. They’ll have a very faint smell, but will smell more like star anise if you’re adding it to the ornaments.