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Holiday Decorating

      Every year when it comes time to preparing for the upcoming holiday season, it seems that holiday decorating is at the top of most everyone’s list. Not only does it give you a break from the hectic shopping and general commotion that characterizes this time of year; it provides you with an opportunity to spruce up your home, inside and out, while spending time with friends and loved ones. For some people, `trimming the tree’ is the extent to which decorating is taken. However, there are so many additional ways to bring festivity to your home by incorporating natural elements to existing plantings and by bringing the outdoors in.

During the winter months, most container gardens are either empty and unused or appear very tired-looking and in need of some refreshing. Most plants that are typically utilized in container gardens, like annuals, will not tolerate the cold conditions. During the winter months, small evergreen shrubs can be used for larger containers: such as Dwarf Alberta Spruce or Boxwoods. Freshly-cut greens also look fabulous. Mixing different types of greens creates interest through a variety of textures and colors. Some of my favorites to use together are white pine branches, boxwood cuttings and cedar branches. Holly and winterberry cuttings look sensational when incorporated due to their brilliant red berries. White birch branches also add a different look while standing out from the rest of the green foliage. Even easier than planting in the spring, holiday container gardens are so simple because you can simply stuff the greens right into the soil and effortlessly rearrange them until you have a creation that’s perfect! Many of these cuttings can even be taken from your own landscape if you incorporated some of these shrubs, especially the hollies and winterberries. One exceptionally helpful tip is spraying your mixed greens with Wilt-Pruf, an anti-desiccant. This extra step will help your creations to last much longer!

Dressing up the entrance to your home is also an idea to consider to welcome any visitors and guests you may have for the holidays. Placing your container gardens near your entrance is one way to add interest. You can also enhance your entryway by adding some pine or balsam roping around the doorway and a matching wreath on your front door. I like adding some pinecones and berry sprigs into the roping or wreaths to add some color and charm. I even spray the pinecones with a touch of gold glitter to make them sparkle. Incorporating lights is an additional way to create a dazzling entrance. Dried magnolia leaves are another great resource for holiday decorating. Adding them to any arrangement creates a certain charm and distinction that makes any creation a little more elegant.

Many of these ideas can also be carried into the inside of your home. One of my favorite places to decorate is around the fireplace. The same roping used around the doorway outside looks beautiful along the mantle of the fireplace. Once the roping is in place with the stockings hung, there is no cozier way to make guests feel welcome and at home. Garland or roping along a staircase railing also adds some elegance. One of the reasons I absolutely love using real greenery inside is the wonderful scent it adds. There is truly no scent that is more perfect during the holidays than that of freshly-cut greens!


One idea that I never really considered, but recently did after a visit to the mansions in Newport, RI, was the use of dried flowers as holiday decorations. Dried pink hydrangeas mixed with magnolia leaves looked absolutely stunning in flower arrangements used as table centerpieces. Poinsettias are also a holiday favorite for decorating indoors. Today, they are available in so many colors, it’s hard to choose!

There are many ways to decorate your home for the holiday season. It is truly amazing how incorporating fresh greens with your traditional holiday décor can create an entirely different atmosphere in your home. The feeling that the appearance and scent of these elegant yet natural decorations evokes is one of comfort and festivity that cannot be replaced. While the simplicity and originality of creating your own unique arrangements gives you a sense of pride in your home, it encourages your visitors to feel welcome and ready to celebrate. The holidays are just simply not the same without the decorating!


-Adriana Gentile, Winterberry Gardens