My strawberries are mulched exclusively with pine needles. They're the best mulch I've found for plants like strawberries that are perennial and benefit when their fruit rests above the soil. The stiff pine needles allow plenty of air and water to reach the soil and don't compact when left undisturbed. The strawberry runners are able to dive beneath the needles and root, creating new sister plants. Many other garden plants can benefit from pine needles or a combination mulch along with straw.
Along the same lines, pine needles are great fire starters. For our outdoor fire pit it's easy to grab a few handfuls of pine needles from the nearest tree when I'm layering the kindling and wood; there's no need for newspaper. For indoor fireplaces, pine needles can play the same role. To avoid the mess of loose pine needles all over the hearth, using thread I bundle the needles into little wands to supplement kindling wood. For a rustic decoration the wands can be stacked along with cut wood near the fireplace. Pine needles will burn quickly so they're best when partnered with other basic fire starting components.
Expanding on the needles-in-a-bag concept, create outdoor pillows and mattresses. Using sturdy, weather-resistant fabric, sew large bags and stuff them with pine needles. Similar to straw mattresses commonly used for hundreds of years, these equivalents can work well on a patio or outdoor deck area. They will be slow to break down and should hold their shape and cushion for a long time. If the fabric material is plastic, thick, or used with an internal barrier, the pointy tips shouldn't protrude.
You can also make tea with pine needles, primarily fresh ones. I stumbled across this use on the internet but haven't tried it. Some holistic medicine practitioners say pine needles offer health benefits and are high in Vitamin C. Before you try it I'd recommend conducting your own research to confirm it's what you want. There are many sites out there with more information about pine needle tea.
Start a pine needle compost pile. Last year I raked many piles of needles and used most of them, but one pile remained in an out-of-the-way corner of my yard. I raked in fall and in early summer I finally got around to using the pile, to replenish the mulch on my garden paths. Imagine my surprise when I began lifting the pile into my wheelbarrow and discovered that the inside and base of the pile was fully decomposed into nice, black compost. The snow, rain, and mass of the pile had effectively composted it. If you have more needles than you can use, put them in an area that will receive plenty of moisture and let them decompose.
For the truly crafty people, make a pine needle doll. Raffia and straw are often used in bundles that are bent and wrapped to create the doll's head. Long pine needles that aren't too dry can be used the same way. Once the head is formed a simple cloth dress completes the doll.
While many people with pine needles would prefer they just disappear, with a little effort and ingenuity you can wile away a winter's day by using pine needles creatively. If you have another use for pine needles let me know. I'm looking forward to what next year's pine needle article can offer.