(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on December 14, 2007. We hope you enjoy it as we count down to Christmas. Your questions and comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond.)
The first step in preparation is to place the pine cones in a 200 degree oven for one hour. This will open up closed cones and remove insects and sap. Be sure to line your cookie sheet with foil as the sap can be difficult to remove.
For fire starters, you can find many methods, but the following is the easiest that I have found. Start by melting paraffin slowly over a low heat. A coffee can placed in a pan of simmering water will melt the wax. As the wax melts, add a crayon with the wrapper removed, for color. Stir with an old wooden spoon and dip the cone in the melted wax. Be sure to cover all of the cone and remove onto a sheet of wax paper. You can dip the cone again to obtain a thicker coat of wax. If giving as a gift, place dipped cones in a basket and wrap with netting and a bow. Add instructions on the gift tag, stating that placed on top of crumpled newspaper, these cones will help start the fire.
Pine cones can also be used to scent a room either in the form of potpourri, or placed in a basket with essential oils on them. Just sprinkle your favorite holiday scent on the pine cones and they will scent your room for weeks to come.
A simple package can be transformed into a beautiful gift with a little greenery and pine cones attached. Add a few pine cones into your Christmas decor as well.
Pine cones aren't just for bird feeders anymore. Children love to collect and decorate pine cones. Spray a cone green, add glitter and sequins and you've got a Christmas tree. Spray a cone white, add wings and a round wooden head and an angel appears. Glitter spray and some ribbon makes an ornament that any child would be proud to hang on the tree. You can find all of the products needed at most craft stores.
So take the kids for a brisk walk in a wooded area and collect some pine cones and make some memories as well.