Natural and Unique Holiday Decorations

A photo of a red book with evergreens and other floral decorations.

Holiday Decorating can be an opportunity to use fresh materials and give the outside and inside of your home a new look for the winter.

By Steffie Littlefield

(This article was first published in The Gateway Gardener November/December 2015)

Holiday Decorating can be an opportunity to use fresh materials and give the outside and inside of your home a new look for the winter. Looking back to the traditional Williamsburg and Old World style of using natural cut greens, branches, berries, pods and cones reminds us that our own gardens can provide a bounty of materials with which we can create unique decorations. These holiday arrangements can also be made more elegant with fabulous fresh material imported from the far Northwest and new fun accessories found at your local garden center. It’s fun to gather stems and branches on a nice day in fall and winter, so let’s be creative this holiday season and spruce up the outside of the house and use our imaginations to produce exciting winter displays.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, many retail nurseries stock up on lovely fresh-cut greenery, colorful twigs and berry stems you can use in your front porch containers, window boxes, and empty hanging baskets. Don’t stop with the obvious; try making a swag for over your front door, around a lamppost, or even fill an antique bucket by the backdoor. Just clear out those old summer plants and refill your container with fresh potting mix. Keep the potting mix damp to keep your cut greens fresh. It is wise to spray an anti-desiccant, such as ‘Wilt-Pruf’ on the live material to keep it from drying out too fast and to help preserve the color. You can use wire and bamboo stakes to make picks out of pods and cones from the garden. Cut some tall branches for the center and then don’t be shy, stuff the container with boughs of pine, cedar and fir evergreen boughs with cut boxwood bunches and colorful dogwood stems and holly berry sprays to give the arrangement a full, opulent look. Mix the textures and colors of your evergreens and use extra long curly willow stems, white birch logs and oversized cones to add elegance, height and weight to the arrangement.

To make your displays reflect your taste and style, select whimsical ornaments or traditional finials in silver gold or bronze. Find a feathered owl, bird in a nest or even a gnome to give your display character. Colorful oversized Christmas ornaments can be An image of evergreens, pine cones and golden ornaments in a floral arrangementadded to the container with the greens, add acrylic snowflakes and icicles that look much colder than they are. Glitter covered cones and sprays of twinkle lights in your window box will brighten your display at night. The good news is that these designer elements will last much longer than the apples and pears of the old della robbia displays from my grandmothers’ days. So don’t hide your pots and window boxes in the garage this winter. Fill them to overflowing with nature’s finest greenery, berries and cones. Then have fun finding unique ornaments to make your winter wonderland come alive for the holidays.

Steffie Littlefield is a horticulturist and garden designer. She has degrees from St. Louis Community College at Meramec and Southeast Missouri State and is a member of Gateway Professional Horticulturist Association and past president of the Horticulture Co-op of Metropolitan St. Louis.