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(MCT)—These days, there is inspiration for holiday decor and decoration nearly everywhere. You can find extravagant displays at craft and holiday shops. You can search out elaborate designs on places such as Pinterest and Facebook. You can also find elegant inspiration right outside your front door. This season, Do Your Part to bring the outdoors in as you decorate. Not only is it inexpensive and attractive, it’s a whole lot easier on the environment.My friend tells a story that each December when she was a little girl, her mother made her sneak into her neighbor’s yard and steal magnolia leaves to display on their fireplace mantel. Now, I’m not advising you to steal any, but my friend’s mother was certainly right on one front — those magnolia leaves are a beautiful way to decorate for the holidays. I use the ones from my tree as the base of my centerpiece for holiday meals. But any pretty leaves will do and it’s super simple. You can use your backyard greenery in flower arrangements, wreaths and garlands.

Another easy and pretty idea this time of year is to use natural branches to help decorate your home. These branches can be tied in bundles to your banisters or used as part of your centerpieces. Add some color to your arrangements with a few winterberries such as Nandina, Holly, or Pyracantha. Fruits on tables, shelves and mantels are also perfect for fall and winter. Lining them with pumpkins, gourds, pears, or shiny apples is both beautiful and budget friendly.

Something I do to decorate throughout the year can be special at holiday time. I fill a large glass hurricane vase with natural items that symbolize the season. Filling them with pinecones, beautiful branches, along with the berries I mentioned above, can be breathtaking. Dangle a few ornaments from the sturdier branches for extra impact. Along with the hurricane vase, baskets are another year round vessel. You can swap out the ribbons and what you fill the baskets with as the seasons change.

Then, there are a few nature inspired finishing touches you can create this time of year. Consider creating napkin rings with twine and cinnamon sticks. Fresh cranberries are also a nice ornamental touch for table decorations.

This season, there’s no need to splurge on expensive holiday decor. By bringing some of nature’s finest and freshest ingredients inside, you’ll Do Your Part to create the perfect feel without spending even more money this holiday season.

 Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part,” a practical guide for everyday green living available at Send questions to

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