Each December, I rack my brain for new and interesting ways to create fresh floral arrangements to celebrate the season. In the past I've used fresh greens, as well as many varieties of fruit and nuts to create festive centerpieces. I've displayed pineapples and pomegranates, bowls of clementines, and trays of candles. But this year, it was time to think outside the box.

When we agreed to participate in this year's Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend Designer Tour of Homes, I was thrilled to learn that we would be paired with local florist Helen Olivia. Not only am I a huge admirer of floral designer Marianne's work, but I was interested to see a fresh (and professional) take on holiday floral arrangements so that I could add their ideas to my playbook. It's easy to get stuck in a creativity rut, but as you'll see from their beautiful creations, their creativity knows no bounds.

To make their challenge even greater, Marianne and her team were gracious enough to work with me on one very important requirement in our home -- that each floral arrangement be pet friendly. Surprisingly enough, many plants, flowers, and berries can be harmful, if not fatal, to domestic animals. Certain holiday favorites --like amaryllis, poinsettia, lilies, and mistletoe -- all make the list, and with our little rascals (Mel, I'm looking mostly at you here, Bud) we weren't willing to take any chances. If you'd like to see the whole list of poisonous plants, head on over to the ASPCA website.

Let's start with, in my opinion, the most fun and whimsical arrangement. This creation, which is sitting on our patio table, features several types of fresh greens, silver pinecones and balls, and sweet white birds. To top it all off, the height of the white slender branches gives the otherwise understated centerpiece some real pizazz and drama. An arrangement like this would be rather simple and inexpensive to put together yourself, yet would absolutely be a conversation piece. 

The base of the pieces is a simple square glass vase about six inches tall and wrapped in green ribbon. Each of the elements is then placed into a block of floral foam to hold it all in place. The little white birds are the final items placed into the arrangement and look almost like they are nesting in the piece.

Next up is this petite bunch, featuring pine branches, greens, sweetheart roses, and a fresh pinecone. Used as a holiday accent in any room, this darling arrangement is a understated and beautiful touch. Again, a simple square glass vase wrapped in ribbon adds a great festive touch to the whole arrangement. 

This next centerpiece took me by surprise. I don't think of orchids as a holiday flower, but the deep maroon color, paired with greens and gold pinecones is the perfect color palette for Christmas, and is a perfect complement to the deep wine hued walls in our dining room. This arrangement also stands the test of time, and with regular watering, can be a holiday table companion to last through the season. 

To be honest, I was particularly smitten with our gorgeous mantel display. Seeing this specimen made me realize I've gone too small in scale in years past. The weight of this floral arrangement, complete with a sizable red bow on either end, draws your attention and acts as a focal point in the room. The varying colors and textures of the greens, spiced up with shiny ornaments and gold pinecones, lend a tasteful nod to the season.

A complementary wreath to the mantle arrangement was hung from the top of the mirror using a door wreath hanger. A length of ribbon was then hot glued over the wreath hanger to make the wreath appear as if it were hanging simply form the ribbon. It's a great trick that I'll surely be using in the future.

Moving on to our kitchen we have my, dare I admit it, favorite of the bunch. What I loved most about this particular arrangement was the inspiration behind it -- the traditional tartan sash worn by Scottish women. Given this display was made for the Scottish Christmas Walk weekend, I loved the nod to our city's heritage and the event. I also thought the unusual shape, varied textures, and inclusion of heather was a gorgeous touch. 

The next centerpiece is a traditional and tasteful accent, done in a red, white, and green scheme. White roses and hydrangeas are set off by fresh greens, pinecones, and a bit of glitz in the form of red ornaments. 

And finally we have a gorgeous arrangement in the most unexpected color palette. I don't typically think of orange and purple for the holidays, but this compact bouquet complemented the warm autumnal tones of our living room, while the red satin vase, green sprigs, and pinecones exuded holiday flair. After all, as we've seen here, Christmas doesn't always have to be red, white, and green.

These holiday arrangements are a clear example that Christmas doesn't have to be boring. While some of these photos show more traditional colors and styles, all are done in a unique and beautiful way. I'm so inspired by the different flowers, colors, and textures used, and can't wait to employ some of these ideas and tactics when creating future holiday arrangements. After all, Valentine's Day will be here before we know it! Maybe I'll do my own Valentine's take and whip of a DIY tutorial or two.

Do you have a favorite arrangement of those pictured above? Would you ever think to include an unusual element, like birds or tartan in your centerpieces? Have you ever tackled a homemade centerpiece for the holidays? I'd love to hear your ideas.

Comments 6

Comments

JC
12/21/2012 at 11:41 AM
I love birds and they remind me of my grandmother, who used to have this huge white macrame (pretty much floor to ceiling) plant holder thing that she used to have covered in various fake birds, butterflies, bees, and other flowers. Don't get me wrong, it looked tacky as hell, lol, but those kinds of things remind me of her. I've found a handful of nice ones at craft stores and even the dollar store, and plan to use them in my tree (when I eventually get one).

My favourite piece is the mantle arrangement. I LOVE the magnolia leaves. There's just something gorgeous about the shiny forest green and the flat light brown combo that I adore. I wanted to get some kind of "fakes" and make garlands and wreaths with it, but I might save that for next year.

I tend to prefer traditional red and green when it comes to the holiday decor/accents, but I have also started to really love combinations like light blue & silver, or light greens. I've seen some neat looking purple poinsettias (silk) with sparkles that would work well in an alternative colour scheme (though I'm not personally a fan of purple in general).

PS: seeing the nutcrackers on the mantle reminded me: I saw this baseball themed nutcracker at one store and immediately thought of Alex. Haha. I wondered if you guys already had one like it.
Wendy
12/21/2012
I'm with you, JC. I tend to go more traditional, but in recent years have started to branch out and appreciate more modern colors and accents.

That's so funny you thought of Alex. Yes, he does actually have an old time-y baseball player nutcracker. (And a pirate, a fisherman, a scotsman, and the list goes on and on.) :-)
JC
12/21/2012 at 5:27 PM
Yeah I saw the baseball one when I went back to see the photo of your collection on the china cabinet. I actually just recently bought myself a new one (I only had 2). I find it fairly difficult to find ones that are really well painted. I often see some that look like they were done in less than 5 minutes (globs of glue, crooked beards, or with parts already broken off). I really love nutcrackers, so I just might have to start a small collection.
Whitney
12/21/2012 at 2:47 PM
Those are lovely!!
Were you able to keep Mel out of them thus far?
Wendy
12/21/2012
I'm thrilled to report that Mel has been on his best behavior as far as the flowers are concerned. The tree...well, that's another story. :-)
Diane
4/25/2013 at 11:14 AM
Wendy,,


All are just stunning! How do you keep your cat from destroying your work?
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