Nature-inspired holiday decor may be just what the doctor ordered to breathe simplicity into your home this season
Tradition. The holidays are filled with it. Whether its the food you make, the parties you host, or the way you decorate your home, your traditions are what bring meaning to this time of year.
For me, decorating my own home is one of my favorite traditions of the season. As a girl, I would watch my mom weave the beauty of the holiday into our home through the decorations she put out and the care she would take wrapping presents and preparing food. It felt captivating to come home to after school. Today, I relish the moments spent creating that wonderland in my own home. Yet, while the decor is plentiful, I find myself adhering lately to the old adage that less is more, and these days look for inspiration in the natural world around us.
For many, decorating begins on the front porch. A good friend of mine told me once not to toss your outdoor potted plants away, just because it’s winter. Some of your spring and fall outdoor plants have the potential to find their way into outdoor winter arrangements, if you’re willing to commit a little heavier to their upkeep. Geraniums and ferns are great options, as they can hold up a little longer as temperatures drop. Visits to local nurseries are a must as you try new arrangements.
An excellent addition to these pots can be found right on your own (or a friend’s) property. As you clean up leaves, take a few moments to gather the sticks, branches, and pinecones that have fallen. Some of the items you can find in boutique stores or catalogues are just faux versions of real items. You are more than welcome to pay for the faux items, but you could also just hold on to the nice ones from your yard.
Spray them with a subtle clear glitter coat, and these little pieces of forgotten nature become new again. Add them to your outdoor arrangement, place them in a vase on an end table, or perhaps pair them with leftover boughs from your Christmas tree, alongside other greenery, such as magnolia and holly. You have yourself supplies to decorate nearly every part of your home for the holidays, giving your spaces a simple yet elegant look that you can reuse for years to come.
It All Starts with the Wreath
The first thing a person sees when they come to your home for a holiday visit is your front door. They may even get a few more seconds with your wreath than you do, as they wait for you to let them in. And what do you think they’ll be doing during that time? That’s right; they’re looking at your wreath.
A plain evergreen wreath can make an excellent base for the natural elements you gathered outside, but you might be surprised to know that you can take this a step further and head to one of the local nurseries, like Northshore Nursery, to truly make it your own. They have the tools needed to bend and shape, but it is you who can choose the type of greenery that suits your taste.
Once the base of your wreath is complete, it can be as easy as grabbing a glue gun or floral wire and adding those outdoor elements you gathered, along with a variety of neutral decorative items to your wreath. Elegant simplicity, a trend I’m seeing more and more.
Up to the Treetop
As you move indoors, bring that container of outdoor items with you. Even if you have a real Christmas tree, there is no harm in putting some of those pinecones into your tree, and coupling it with your family’s ornaments and simple white lights. These same rules can translate beautifully to a mantle, if you have one. Just remember that if you are using live greenery, keep an eye on upkeep as it can dry out easily. Switch branches of leaves (especially magnolia) out often to keep the holiday decor looking its best.
Sharing the Beauty of Nature with Others
One aspect of decorating that is often forgotten about until we are in a crunch to get it done before a friend arrives is the gifts you put together and the food you prepare. You may spend hours preparing the meal and hors d’oeuvres, but have you ever really stopped to think about how you would arrange them? This can be a last minute addition often, but why not plan for that?
If there is greenery left in your bag of forgotten outdoor items, this is a great place for them, especially smaller items that weren’t quite big enough to make a grand statement. Case in point: the tiny pieces left from your tree. Tie these little guys onto the top of presents with some twine and you have yourself a simple, yet beautiful gift for those coming to visit. An even better aspect of this, is that if you get your shopping and wrapping done early, you get a two-for-one as you can use these beautifully packaged presents as decor in your own home until they head to their final destinations.
This can also be true for the spread you put together for your guests. Your decor doesn’t have to be over the top, even if you plan to have holiday gathering after holiday gathering at your home. Less is more, right? Small pieces of greenery placed gently under the edges of your appetizer plates breath life and love to your buffet. Pair that with neutral or nature-colored candles and minimal decorative items and you will make even the buffet look like a well-thought-out spot in your home.
Holiday decorating doesn’t have to be an enormous task. It should be enjoyable, something you cherish and look forward to each year. It should be something to build traditions within and then take great pride in later. And keeping it simple can make the season feel effortless, despite it often being the busiest time of year for many families. Let your home be the place you unwind and slow down, and let your decor play a role in that.
And when the season is over and it’s time to pack everything up, here are a couple of things to remember. Those pinecones you spent an hour collecting? They can be used again next year. Bake them in the oven on a low temperature to draw out any final moisture (or bugs) and pop them in a container for next year. And those boughs of evergreen you put out? If they still look good, leave them. A friend of mine once told me that natural elements can look relevant all year long. And judging from her banister in the spring, I think she might be right.