Are you looking for cheap and easy-to-make fall decor? This DIY acorn tree is just what you’re looking for! It’s simple, fast and just about free!
Easy and Almost Free DIY? Yes, Please!
Today I’m really excited to share how I made this super-easy and almost-free piece of fall decor – a sweet acorn tree. It’s only been on my front porch a few days, and already, I’ve gotten a bunch of compliments on it.
If you’ve been reading along, you know know that as a SAHM of twin preschoolers, we are on a tight budget and constantly looking for ways to save money. I feel very fortunate to be home with my boys, but if I’m honest, I feel like I’m counting the days until kindergarten so I can go back to work. Not that I WANT to go back to work, but after a few years, it can be stressful living on one full-time income and pieced-together-by-random-gigs 2nd income.
So it’s fall in East Tennessee (though it’s currently hotter than Florida right now. In October), and as a former NY girl, it’s gotta feel like fall, no matter what the temperature feels like.
And let’s be real: there’s really no room in the budget for all the fall decor I’m drooling over at Hobby Lobby. Enter DIY – and this one can even be totally free, if you have a few things on hand already along with using a few other ideas for how to decorate your house for fall when you’re on a tight budget (like me!)
Acorns: Free and Festive Fall Decor
I came across this picture on Pinterest, and I thought this would be a really cute addition to the fall decor I’m trying to pull together. The pin didn’t go to a blog post or tutorial, so I went to work to pull it together myself.
Best part: it’s mostly free.
I have something of a love/hate relationship with acorns. I love them because they’re all cute and fall-ish and squirrels look kinda cute nibbling on them.
But man, I’ve stepped on them with bare feet, gotten bonked in the head with them, and they’ve made legit dents in the hood of my Jeep. So why do I hate them? Well, there you go.
However, they do work really well as free fall decor, so might as well make good use of them.
DIY Acorn Tree Project Specifics
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You might need to purchase a few things if you don’t have them hanging around, but you pretty much can do that for under $5. So, this really can be a free project or close-to-free.
For this acorn tree, I’m going to break down your options the for supply list, keeping it as cheap as possible. You really can suit your taste or just use what you have on hand.
For the container, I used a bucket I had purchased over the summer at Dollar Tree. It was on my kitchen counter collecting random crap I had no place for – like expired coupons, broken toy parts, and receipts from a year ago – waiting for an idea to strike me as to where I could use it. This craft was perfect.
You can pick up something similar at the dollar store for a $1 or you can use an empty spaghetti jar, hurricane vase, mason jar, planter or anything else you have hanging around collecting random crap.
For the filler, I used sand that was in my sons’ sandbox. You can use beach sand, dirt, rocks – anything with a little weight that will anchor your container.
GROUND COVER (OPTIONAL)
For the ground cover, I grabbed some rocks and gravel that I had in the yard. You can use rocks, or just keep the filler that you used exposed. You can even throw some extra acorns on the top. I think that would look really cute, too!
For the branches – yup, they’re just branches I picked up at the playground while my boys were playing. You can look around your yard, a local park, a playground…you only need anywhere from 4-7 branches, depending on how full you want your tree to be. You can even see if there are some dead branches on the trees on your property and cut some off.
Just make sure you have a good variety of branches to hang your acorns from- ones that will fan out in various directions and have little stems to hang the strings from. Some branches that flow out horizontally are a plus.
Bunch them together and give them a test run to see if they will blend well together as a tree. You’ll be tying them together in the bucket before it’s all completed. Trim off any parts of the branches that seem to be an awkward fit.
If you’re lucky, you might find one solid branch that covers all the bases. I had purchased some manzanita branches to use as centerpieces for my wedding back in the day. Something like that works amazingly well, too. You can grab manzanita branches here at Walmart if you’re not too worried about the ‘free’ part of this project.
I lightly dusted the branches with Rustoleum Chiffon Cream Chalk Paint. I didn’t want harsh white, but I didn’t want the dull grey that most branches are. You can color them if you want or leave them natural. You can do white, brown, black or any other color you want. Paint is optional.
For the acorns – same thing: nature is your friend. Just look in your hard, the park, the playground – any place where there are oak trees with acorns falling. You can even commando and score some from your neighbor’s yard. If you don’t want to go that route, you can buy a bag of acorns pretty inexpensively on Amazon.
If you are gathering them from the ground and keeping things cheap, make sure you treat them to get rid of bugs. Just stick them on a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake them at 200 degrees for 2 hours. That’s it. If any acorns fall apart, you can just glue them together after they’re done in the oven.
For the string, I used bakers twine. I couldn’t find the brown bakers twine shown in the Pinterest picture, but the gold worked well enough. You could use red and white, black and white, whatever suits your fancy. You can even use jute string. Just make sure whatever string you use is strong enough to hold the acorns but thin enough to loop around the tiny stem of the acorns.
Here’s where you can get brown bakers twine on Amazon.
So, if you have the containers and string on hand, this basically can be a free project from things you can snag from your house, yard, and nature.
DIY is the Way to Go
What I also love about this project is that you can change it up for different seasons. You can customize what you hang on the branches for Christmas, winter, spring, etc. Just be sure not to glue the string to the branches, but just drape it on. Here are some other ways I’ve styled it for Christmas, then for winter!
And if you just need some ideas to get your brain started, take a look at 30 Home Decorating Ideas for Fall and more specifically, fall porch inspiration with pro-tips for decorating!
OK, are you ready to start this? Let’s go!
Easy and Cheap DIY Acorn Tree Fall Decor Project
- Container (jar, vase, bucket, etc.)
- Container filler (sand, rocks, marbles, etc.)
- Ground Cover (optional)
- Acorns - about 25-30
- Branches - about 4-7 in varying sizes
- Baker's Twine or string of your choice
- Spray Paint (optional)
- Glue Gun
- Toothpick (dental pik, nail or other pointed object would work fine too)
- Gather acorns, branches, filler (sand/rocks), and anything else you need nature to donate.
- If not buying acorns from the store, place acorns on a cookie sheet with parchment paper and bake for 2 hours at 200 degrees. This will kill any bugs that might be inside.
- If you are spray painting branches, do this before you set them in the container.
- Take branches and arrange them in the container as you want them displayed. Once set, fill container with rocks, sand or whatever object you are using to hold the branches and anchor the container. Tie the branches together at the base to keep them secure and then cover string with more filler.
- If you desire, cover sand or dirt with rocks, acorns or decorative ground cover for base of tree.
- Cut baker's twine in varying lengths, enough to place an acorn at each end of the string. For example, if you are using 20 acorns for your tree, you need 10 pieces of string. This can be anywhere from 8-14 inches, depending on the lengths you want and if you are making bows (see next step).
- If you are making bows with the string to hang on top of the branches, make sure the string is extra long. If you are just hanging the string over the branches, cut the string to the varying lengths you desire. You can do a few test lengths with or without bows.
- Once acorns are cooled, put glue around the top stem of the acorn. Taking one end of the string, wrap it around the stem. Use a toothpick, nail or other pointed object to help the string go neatly around the top and into the glue. Do the same with another acorn at the other end of the string. Allow to dry.
- Repeat above step with all the acorns and string.
- If you are making bows, make two loops in the string (bunny ears) and tie them in a knot to create a bow, with 2 acorns dangling on each end. Drape the string at your desired locations on the tree, with the bow centered at the top of the branch, and the acorns staggered in length. (If you aren't re-suing the tree for different seasons, you can secure with a touch of glue from the glue gun).
- If you are not making bows, just lay the strings on the tree at desired locations, making sure one acorn on the string is a little higher or lower than the other.
- Arrange acorn strings as desired. Spread throughout branches evenly. If you're not re-using the tree for a different season, you can secure with a tiny drop of glue.
- You can also tie the string to the branch with a single knot. It really is up to you.
- Place in a location of your choice and enjoy!
Here’s how it came out all set up on the porch:
Easy DIY Acorn Tree for the Win!
I love a good DIY project that’s accessible for very little money and for all levels. This one definitely checks off the boxes. It’s something that’s a little more unique, covers a good amount of real estate, and is even one that kids can help and be involved with!
More Styling Options for Other Seasons
I love that this tree is versatile for other seasons as well! Here are a few ways I’ve used the tree since, for other times of year:
Valentine’s Day (actually, this is just some branches I threw in a pitcher, but it’s the same concept)
4th of July
If you create one, I’d love to see it! Please tag me on Instagram at @100affections or leave a comment on Pinterest! (Pin below!)
Comments? I’d love to hear what you think!
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