You've heard about the holly and the ivy, but have you ever decorated with them?
Putting up festive decorations around the home is a winter tradition! And though you can buy artificial boughs of holly and sprigs of mistletoe from your nearest craft store, this year, why not try some easy, vibrant, DIY decor?
You don't even have to grow your own holly and ivy specifically. If you've trimmed your own hedges and trees, you know there's a wealth of decorating material right in your own backyard.
Here's how to turn those branches, stems, and other items into decorations to brighten your home at Christmastime or any other season.
Even as long ago as the heyday of the Roman empire, people used cuttings from live plants to decorate for holiday celebrations. Plants like laurel and holly represented rejuvenation, growth, and other ideas that held hope in winter.
These days, even if you don't grow traditionally symbolic winter plants in your yard, you'll still find that some of the most common landscaping shrubs and trees make great garlands and wreaths due to their texture, color, and longevity.
When it comes time to harvest your live Christmas greenery, be sure to choose materials from a variety of plants. This not only will add visual interest, but also will help you avoid depleting all the living green tissue on any one plant.
Common green landscaping elements that make lively holiday plant decorations include these:
Not everyone enjoys the scent of boxwood, so take care if bringing that into the house. However, any small branches trimmed from the base of a natural Christmas tree to help it stand will also work as part of your decorations.
If you live in a warmer climate, you might be able to use your hedge trimmer to get the material you need. If not, taking a more cautious approach with a pair of handheld pruning shears will be the better option for your plants.
While you're gathering the main materials for your decoration, you also can gather other natural materials (perhaps using a nut gatherer) to use as accents:
Note: the berries on mistletoe, holly, and yew are toxic. Keep these away from pets and small children.
Types of decorations you can make include wreaths and garlands. Table decorations, swags, and mantelpiece décor (careful putting this near your fireplace!) can be made using the same techniques as you would for wreaths and garlands.
If you want to include pine cones, some crafters recommend baking them in an oven at 200 degrees for 20 minutes to an hour to eliminate any pests, then rehydrating them by dunking them in water.
You'll need the following supplies in addition to your greens:
With those supplies and your greenery ready, it takes just a few steps to assemble your decorations:
Also, always keep your holiday greenery away from direct sunlight and any heat sources! The last thing you want is to risk starting a fire anywhere other than your in your fireplace or on your tabletop candelabra.
You don't have to wait for or even celebrate any winter holidays to decorate with greenery. Change up the plants and colors to create festive décor any time of the year.
But once you know the basics, decorating with fresh Christmas greenery you harvest from your own yard is a sure way to make the holiday season bright.