I have strong feelings about Christmas decorations. First, they should always bring joy. For me, that means things that are natural, simple in construction, and handmade, if possible. There’s nothing more soul-sucking than walking into a big department store during the Christmas season and being accosted by overblown plastic decorations covered in fake snow. Secondly, decorations should not be expensive or too time-consuming. If you don’t look forward to putting up your tree and decorating the house, then maybe you’re doing more than you should. I think less is more – whether it’s Christmas shopping, decorating, or spending. And, finally, I think holiday decorations should be fresh. There’s nothing like the smell of pine boughs or paper whites to make it feel like Christmas is coming, though this year we finally gave in and bought an artificial tree. I think it’s better than cutting down a live tree every year, and several family members who suffer with allergies to evergreens are very grateful that they will finally get to pass the holiday season without their usual sneezing and watery eyes.
I like to have little reminders of the holiday all around the house, simple things that require only the effort of placing them on display, whether it’s a vintage Christmas postcard beside a bud vase of holly berries or a bowl of tangerines piled high and garnished with evergreens.
This very simple arrangement makes a big impact even though it has only two things in it: red roses and holly. It can be used as a centerpiece, or an entry hall table topper.
I used several of branches of ilex berries, tied to a bundling of kindling and topped with candles for a mantelpiece, though this too could be a centerpiece for a table.
This brass candlestick was dressed up with pine cones, a pine branch, and some very big viburnum pods, and tied that with a ribbon that pulls it all together – both visually and literally. It’s a subtle way to mark the season without breaking the bank.
I used this as a coffee table arrangement, which also happened to be edible. All it takes is a pretty pedestal dish to make any display of fruit appealing.
I love this pitcher with its winter wonderland scene. It has white astilbe and anemones in it, to emphasize the white in the vase.
This grocery store cyclamen couldn’t have been simpler – I plopped it in a Nantucket basket with a flourish of greens and pepper berries. It makes for a nice gift or guest room arrangement.
We have a dark and often-dreary back hall that needed a big jolt of Christmas. The worn stoneware vase holds an armful of holly that raises the spirits every time I see it.
I love these red and white carnations for this time of year. So many people do such clever things with them – wreaths, topiaries, peppermint sticks – but for those who feel undone by the idea of arranging a bouquet of flowers, carnations are a good flower to start with. Use a smaller container than you think you’ll need and pile them in, cutting the flowers in the middle to be slightly taller than the ones at the sides. Feel free to let it be loose and asymmetrical; all that matters is if you like it.
Here are some other vignettes from different places around the house, so give you a little inspiration: