From his floral tips to his house tour, Andy N. is one inspiring Think.Make.Share contributor! The Hallmark photo stylist is back to tell us how even a self-proclaimed Scrooge can make holiday gift giving merry this season.
O.K., let’s just get it right out there in the open: My favorite holiday is the Fourth of July. The Fourth of July is easy. There are not a lot of expectations, and I’m not going to rack up debt on my credit card because I’ve overspent on hotdogs, baked beans and sparklers.
Big holidays like Christmas make me nervous. Am I leaving anyone off of my Christmas list? Is Christmas morning at my house again? How can I avoid wandering Victorian carolers in authentic garb? (I mean, come on, they scare me more than clowns!) The list of complaints goes on and on.
One other reason why I’m not so excited about Christmas is the fact that I’m a Hallmark photo stylist. That means I’m styling Christmas photos half of the year! By the time Christmas rolls around, I have wrapped more packages, strung lights on more trees, and literally climbed snow-covered mountains at dusk in zero-degree weather to get the perfect Christmas scene. Blah, blah, blah. Humbug, humbug, humbug.
I’m venting. I realize that this is a Hallmark blog, so I have to turn this depressing blog entry around and give you, my by-this-time-depressed-too reader, hope. Here goes.
I would like to share with you three fun, easy, beautiful and inexpensive ways to use flowers for your holiday gift giving at Christmas. I mean let’s face it, a little bit of nature brought inside during the long, depressing, dismal, frigid, fat-gaining, dirty-sweats-wearing months of winter is going to make anyone smile. Even me.
The perfect hostess gift
Look around your house and find a plain white cup, mug, creamer, or pitcher. The container should be proportional to the flowers you will be using. If you really want to be a holiday show-off, get a really big pitcher and big flowers like hydrangeas and French tulips.
Oops! For those of you who read my previous blog post, there goes my casual mentioning of things French again! And if you didn’t read my previous blog posts, shame on you! Although I have to admit my macramé post was unusually long, and I even had a hard time getting through it. I promised the Think.Make.Share staff that that I would be shorter and more concise on this blog post…
Anyway…after you have selected your cup, mug, or pitcher, then fill the container with an assortment of white, gray, green, and silver holiday-appropriate flowers and greens.
This arrangement is not the arrangement of the ’70s, when unnamed national floral companies would build a perfect pyramid of cheap flowers in an unattractive mug that said “Grandmas Little Pooper” on the side of it. Absolutely not! This is taking a perfectly simple white container and—in a very relaxed manner—stuffing it full of greens and flowers. No arranging into stiff geometric shapes! The less flower arranging experience you have, the better it will look.
Now, if you really want to take it over the top with your holiday gift giving, tie some natural twine around the handle, give it a simple wrap and knot, and tie a couple of your durable flowers onto the ends of the twine. In this case, I used Silver Brunia. If that is something you would like to use, ask your local florist to get it for you. Heck, I will also tell you to go outside and cut a few branches off of any evergreen you have in your yard. Or your neighbors’ yard. I’m sure they won’t mind.
Some of my favorite white flowers to use are tulips, hydrangeas, white winterberry, white poinsettia (yes, you can cut them), and roses.
Showing up at a holiday party with your stunning all-white flower arrangement will be sure to get you a lot of ohhhhs and ahhhhs.
The favorite teacher gift
I used to be a teacher, so I had to include this category of recipients. As a matter of fact, when I was a beginning art teacher in my 20s, I remember getting a variety of gifts from students right before the holiday break.
I started teaching in the public school system in 1980, and I will never forget that my take-home pay was $666 a month. Make any Biblical reference you want! I lived on fast food and clearly remember going through my dirty clothes on my apartment floor looking for enough loose change to buy a deep-fried apple pie, burger and fries many a night.
Anyway, my first year of teaching, the day before holiday break, my desk started to get loaded up with a very impressive display of Christmas goodies. (I would say Hanukkah and Kwanzaa goodies, too, but that would be a lie. I didn’t get any Hanukkah or Kwanzaa goodies.) Right when I was about to start ripping into my homemade Christmas treats, a gang of older teachers stormed my room, took the bounty out of my hands, and saved me from myself—several of the food gifts that came my way were also from the same home that contributed head lice to the school every year. What a bummer. I went home and spent another evening looking through my dirty clothes for loose change. So, if you are not a great baker or happen to have a head full of lice, this next floral gift would be the perfect choice for your favorite teacher!
Find a great-looking bottle or vase with a small neck. The smaller the neck, the fewer berries, flowers or greens that you need later. I’m using an antique French beer bottle because I’m fancy.
Find a gift box to place your vase or bottle in. Wrap the bottle in tissue if you are fancy like me. Or if you are an artsy millennial who hates the old, tired, and boring wrapping methods that baby boomers use, wrap some burlap, butcher paper or newsprint around your gift. (Millennials love burlap!) Place gift in box.
Now for the fun part. Having pre-cut a stem of berries or a sprig of evergreen or a singular tulip to fit your vase or bottle, tie your element from nature into the ribbon that you wrap your gift up with. Trump that, Martha Stewart!
You now have a beautiful presentation. When the recipient opens their beautifully decorated package, they can simply fill their gift with water and stick the flower, berries or greens from outside of the package into their new vase or bottle and use throughout the years ahead. I’m seeing an A+ in your future!
The party favor meets table decoration gift
I am tired, and this idea is really easy. If you are hosting the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza dinner this year, LIKE I AM ONCE AGAIN!, then this idea is for you. I think it is always nice to have a little gift that your guests can remember you and the event by. I also think that you need a little bit of natural holiday elements on your table. So here is what I’m going to do:
Find really small glass tumblers or votive holders or shot glasses. Put one at each place setting, fill them with water (put vodka in yours, if you think you are going to need it halfway through the meal), and then simply place a little sprig of holly or evergreen in each little glass. This is a quick and simple way to get a little nature on the table, and your guests and loved ones can take the small souvenir home with them!
Show us your holiday gift giving ideas this holiday season! Tag us on Instagram, @think.make.share!
Photography by Jane Kortright.
For more holiday gift giving inspiration as well as Christmas decorations, recipes and more, check out our Christmas section.