At this time of year, gifts aren't found just under the tree -- they're also found outside, among the trees: perfect snow-covered fields, sprays of feathery evergreen, berry-studded branches, woody pinecones.
Take advantage of these gifts from nature by getting outdoors. Collect fallen pinecones, and cut sprigs from your evergreens (this happens to be the season to prune them). If your yard -- or that of an obliging neighbor -- doesn't provide such materials, gather cast-off boughs at your local Christmas-tree stand, and purchase pinecones at crafts stores.
Some of these finds can be displayed more or less as is: Set greenery in teacups, creamers, or gravy boats, for example, or suspend pinecones from ribbons. Others can be used to embellish store-bought wreaths or garlands, with just a few dabs of hot glue and a couple twists of wire. It's true that evergreen decorations won't last forever (displayed outdoors, they'll stay fresh for about four weeks; indoors, for two weeks). But that's what makes nature's gifts all the more precious.