Winter Box with Lights

This past Christmas season I was shopping at TJ Maxx looking for some last-minute items for stocking stuffers. In the long, winding checkout line, a small white box caught my eye. It was made from lightweight balsam wood and had a simple snowflake stamped on it. At $7.99, I decided to throw it on top of my pile of Christmas purchases. By the time I was pulling my car out of the parking lot, I was plotting what to do to make this simple box something warm and inviting for the cold months ahead.

This project is a perfect January craft since you can acquire most of the items just after the holidays when discounts and steals are aplenty. Plus, who says the lights all have to away just because the holidays are over? I was able to get three bundles of pinecones at my local Stop & Shop on sale for only $6. The blue and silver berry picks came from Joann Fabrics and were 80% off. The floral foam and pine sprigs were on sale for 70% off at Michael’s craft store. Lastly, I used a string of 50 white lights to give the box a warm glow.

A necessary evil.

Disclaimer: Cinnamon-scented pinecones: I hate them with a passion. Unscented pinecones are available, but at the time I was shopping for this project just after Christmas, I couldn’t find any. Every Christmas season I dread the arrival of the bins of scented pinecones that fill the front of the local grocery stores. The smell is overwhelming, and I want to gag. If you’re like me, don’t despair. When you single out the bundles of scented pinecones, they don’t smell so bad. Plus, after a while, they lose their scent completely. Since the grocery store was having such a great deal on the pinecones, I decided to suck it up and buy them, although I did leave the windows of my car open a crack so I wouldn’t get a headache from the smell while I drove home.

Okay, now that I got that off of my chest, let’s get crafting! To begin, I cut the floral foam blocks to fit into the box. I recommend doing this over a table since the floral foam makes a lot of dust. Next, I arranged the pinecones on top of the foam and moved them around until I found just the right look. Then it was time to get the hot glue gun.

I covered the bottom of the pinecones in a healthy amount of hot glue to keep them secure on the floral foam. Letting them set for at least a half hour, I then untangled the string of 50 white lights. Lights with green wire is best since it’s much easier to hide. Keeping the plug-end of the lights hanging over the edge, I carefully wove the lights between the pinecones. Once the lights were placed, it was time to fill it all in with some pine branches and accents.

Since the box I had was small, I only needed one large pick of greenery. I pulled out the individual sprigs from the pick, then I stuffed them between the pinecones, adding a dab of hot glue to the ends of the branches to keep them secure.

Cut or pop off the individual sprigs.
After adding pine sprigs.

To finish the wintry look, I cut up a few picks of white and blue berries to add a touch of color to the light box. Before gluing them down, I first placed the berries to see where they would fit best. I cut the blue berries individually and the white ones in groups of three to keep the look consistent.

Using wire cutters or scissors, cut off small bunches or individual berries for accents.

When I finished, I kept the box lit all afternoon. The (thankfully faint) smell of cinnamon filled my sitting room as the warmth of the lights heated the pinecones. The whole project took only an afternoon to complete. The box looks beautiful on my hearth. I was lucky enough to find this crate at the store, but most craft stores carry unpainted crates that could easily be painted just like this one. Keep warm this winter, and keep crafting!

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