Skip to Content

A Unique Rainbow Thistle Decoration To Make

At the bottom of my road is a gorgeous park and river. Most mornings I walk our old dog Toby across the park and along the embankment. The riverbank is lined by thistle plants, which are all dry now. I’ve picked a few of these and used them to make a lovely thistle decoration for my mantle.

Thistles are the national flower of Scotland and it’s Burns night soon. Which makes this thistle decoration is seasonally appropriate. It will go well with my scrap tartan Scottie dogs.

My mother is Scottish, every Burns night growing up, we had haggis. This is was not an easy thing to do whilst living in Hong Kong. As my mother had to order all the haggis ingredients from the butcher and make her own from scratch.

Despite what many non-Scotts believe, haggis isn’t a real animal. It’s a food item made from offal.

Did you know that it is illegal to import haggis into the US? Due to a ban on some of its ingredients. So I’m sure many Scots in the US must make their own haggis too!

Thistles along the riverbank in Bedford

A Colourful Thistle Decoration For Your Mantle

Back to the thistle decoration, I think it has a retro feel to it. As a child, I remember my house being decorated with dried plants such as thistles, bulrushes (cattails) and pampas grass.

I thought I’d give the thistles a modern update by spray painting them a rainbow of colours.

DIY rainbow dried thistle decoration for your mantle.

This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to see my disclosure policy.

What You Need To Make A Thistle Decoration

  • Thistles – Thistles grow wild, I picked about 8 from the riverbank.
  • Secateurs & gardening gloves – Thistles are very thorny, you will want to protect your hands.
  • Wood dowel approx 3cm in diameter and at least 70cm in length
  • Walnut wood stain
  • Spray paints in lots of different colours.
  • Drill with a wood drill bit as wide as the thistle stem.
Dried thistle before decoration

How To Make A Thistle Decoration

1.Using gloves and secateurs pick your dry thistles. Next, spray paint them the colours of the rainbow or near enough. I just used the bits of spray paint I had in my craft cupboard.

Rainbow spray painted dried thistles for a mantle decoration

2. Next, saw the wooden dowel into blocks about 5-6 cm (2″) in height. You will need one for every painted thistle. I had seven blocks in total.

Sawing wooden dowel
Cut small wooden dowels

3. Mark the center of the top of each piece of wood and drill a hole in the top. The hole needs to be wide enough to fit the thistle stem and about 2cm’s deep.

Drilling holes in the wooden thistle decoration vases.

4. Next, sand and smooth each of the wooden blocks. I wanted a darker wood look, so I also stained each block with a walnut wood stain.

Sanded stained wooden blocks

5. Finally, cut down the thistle stems to about 2 cm long. Place one thistle decoration in each wooden block.

Making colourful thistle decoration
Finished rainbow dried thistle decoration
Rainbow painted dried thistle decoration.

I have put my rainbow thistle decoration on the mantle. It certainly looks bright, colourful and cheery! I won’t be just keeping these decorations up for Burns Night (25th January) but for the rest of the year.

Check out these tartan crafts for more Scottish decor ideas.

Being born and brought up in Hong Kong, not only does my family celebrate Burns Night, but we also celebrate Chinese New Year. On the family calendar, it is the next event after Burns’s night. I’ll see if I can come up with some Chinese New Year decor ideas too!

Rainbow coloured dried thistle decoration for Burns
Spray painted dried thistle decorations

If you are looking for more Scottish themed decorations then you should check out these tartan mini trees and colourful tartan feathers.

Chinese New Year often falls at about the same time as Burn’s night. You might want to check out my Chinese paper lanterns craft, which is also very colorful.

If like me you love colourful decor you will love the rainbow DIY pom-pom flowers I have also made to brighten up my home. You may want to check out these rainbow posts.

I have even made thistle type jeans flowers using denim scraps.

For more rainbow crafts check out

Phil Nevard

Friday 25th of August 2023

Brilliant idea (though, these are teasels rather than thistles.)

Claire Armstrong

Saturday 26th of August 2023

Thank you, yes I realise that now 🤣🤣. I was mistaken at first my plant identification isn’t great.


Monday 21st of June 2021

How cheerful! I love the whole concept. I do the same thing each year after Alium blooms die back. Each year a different spray paint per my mood for the season and they add up. I now have them in a wall sconce and two large floor vases. Now I have to try the thistle. Awesome.

Claire Armstrong

Monday 21st of June 2021

Thank you, those Aliums sound fabulous, I love that idea.

DIY Rainbow Thistle Decoration – JW Designs

Wednesday 24th of April 2019

[…] This is a fun home decor craft to brighten up your home. I spray painted some dried thistles the colour of the rainbow and made small wooden vases for them to sit on my mantle. You could almost call this a Burns Night craft as the thistle is the national flower of Scotland. See the full tutorial here. […]


Monday 28th of January 2019

I love this, Claire! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!

Claire Armstrong

Monday 28th of January 2019

Thank you, Cecilia.

Chas Greener

Thursday 24th of January 2019

This is such a cute idea, and love all the bright and bold colors. Thanks for sharing.

Claire Armstrong

Thursday 24th of January 2019

Thank you, I love a rainbow.