By Janine Pettit

Generosity and hospitality are two hallmarks of a Girl Camper, and nothing brings out those qualities like the holiday season. With so many friends to acknowledge during the season of giving, we thought a gift any outdoorswoman would appreciate is a big batch of nature-inspired, homemade fire starters.

They’re fun to make from foraged items you can collect on a hike. All you need to get started is a thrift store crock pot (smaller is better) or a set of aluminum pans, some wax to melt in it, and a plastic table cover to protect your work surface. If you use aluminum trays, it’s a good idea to use two pans for added strength when moving it back and forth from the oven to the work surface.

Our wax supply came from unused candles purchased at garage sales, collected stubs from home and half-burned tapers from our local church. Dump them all in the crock pot and set it on low or place the pans in the oven on 275 degrees until melted. You can keep a dedicated crock pot for this and add new wax as you collect it. Just plug it in and melt the new into the old batch. 

Paper Wreaths

These paper wreaths, embellished with fresh greens, are almost too pretty to burn!  And they are certainly easy to make. Start with brown craft paper, twine and petroleum jelly. Cut the paper 36” long, add petroleum jelly and then twist them. Fasten three strips at the top, braid them, create a circle and add a sprig of green!


These fire starter wreaths are so easy to assemble.

Pinecone Baskets

Pinecone boats nestled in pretty packaging make a beautiful holiday gift for a camping friend. We collected lots of pinecones with branches still attached and dipped them in our melted wax. Then we nestled the pinecones on a bed of salvaged crinkled packing paper that we drizzled with a few teaspoons of wax. Finally, we then wrapped them in waxed paper and tied them up with twine. You can also use strips of torn cotton, ribbon or raffia. 

Pinecone fire starters

Dried Flower Bouquets

Bouquets of dried flowers and gathered leaf branches make great fire starters. Hang the flowers upside down in a cool dry place until they are dried out. Dip them in melted wax, tipping the crock pot to cover as much of the flower and stem as possible.  Dip baby’s breath and dried ferns to create a wax bouquet that will get many fires started. Wrap them in scalloped edged natural colored parchment paper and tie them up with old ribbon, strips of torn cotton or twine. The lucky recipient can pull the blooms one at a time to get a campfire going or sacrifice the whole bouquet at once for a glorious start.

Pretty bouquet fire starters

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