There’s nothing quite like a real Christmas tree at this time of year. But choosing the real deal, rather than a plastic version, does come at a cost: yes, the pine needles all over your floor

Constantly sweeping up and binning the needles can be a bit of a pain. So, how about doing something else with them? Rather than being a nuisance, they could be used as a material or ingredient to be savoured. 

Here are some ways to use your fallen pine needles this Christmas… 

Cook with them

From needle-cured fish to pine-smoked mussels or even your own pine needle butter, there are plenty of ways to use pine needles to add extra flavour to your Christmas cooking.

If you have a sweet tooth, you can try using fresh needles to perfume sugar to sprinkle over your leftover mince pies. 

Did you know there are even cookbooks inspired by this idea, such as ‘How to eat your Christmas tree’, which contains many different green-living recipes you might like to try.

Make a pine needle brew

Alternatively, you could create your own warming brew by making some pine needle tea, which is said to have been prized for thousands of years for its various health benefits.

The addition of the needles to your brew will add a slightly citrusy flavour, but with an earthy edge that might take some getting used to.

To make the brew, simply add pine needles to boiling water and let the flavours infuse. Sieve and then serve. You can find more information here.

Make soap

If you have the time and patience - as well as some unusual ingredients such as chlorella powder - then you could have a go at making your own pine needle soap.

Homemade soaps can make for a great gift (although they won’t be ready in time for this Christmas).

Use as fire starters

Another great way to repurpose fallen pine needles is when you’re starting a fire. Bundle a handful of nice, dry needles together with thread and use them to supplement your usual kindling. While they burn quickly, they are a wonderful zero-waste option for warming your home this winter.

Use for mulch

Mulch, for the non-gardeners, is something you put in a layer on top of soil to save water and suppress weeds. It can also make your garden look nice and neat and help prevent the ground from freezing when the weather turns cold. 

A layer of pine needles can do the job nicely and they’re free for the raking!

Make potpourri

Fill a bowl or basket with fallen pine needles, alongside any other fragrant ingredients you want to include such as a cinnamon stick, cloves, nutmeg, and lemon or orange rind, depending on what you have in the house. The aroma of natural, Christmassy smells will fill your home for family and friends alike to enjoy! You can even add some pinecones to complete the festive look.

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