Deck the Halls with Things from Nature Fa la la la la la la la la. Just Say No to Discount Dé-cor, fa la la la la la la la la.
Above via Dear Lillie
Hey, thanks for being here today! I’m Shiree’ and I’m going to be really honest with you about something. Don’t call me a snob, at least not till the end of the article, okay? Here we go.
Above Carey Karlan
Most, as in 80 percent of Christmas decorating is cookie cutter, or over the top, or worst of all, both. Even in most stores, even by professionals. I feel so much better being honest with you!
So instead of overdoing it on discount store decorations, let’s go a little more tasteful this year. Can I get an Amen? Take a stroll down to William-Sonoma or Sur La Table. Walk the aisles and familiarize yourself with the different feel these two store have when compared to TJ Maxx or Ross. I know you’re rolling your eyes at me because you feel they’re too expensive but listen, you came here for my opinion so I’m being really open with you. And while WS and SLT are higher priced than say TJ Maxx or Ross you really get what you pay for not only in style but also in the longevity of the items you purchase. No one is paying me to say this. Those four stores just happen to illustrate my point clearly. Think of it like this, what you save by foraging from nature and your own back yard will allow you to spend more on the things you’re buying outright plus you won’t be replacing them in five years or even ten because better quality usually mean better design and better design mean it will stay in style considerably longer.
Let’s get started.
I know some of us are not planning much of a Christmas in 2020 but it’s actually okay to decorate for just the one or two of you in fact, I really encourage it.
Tasteful table settings and decorations are all about quality table linens; natural materials; fine ceramics or china; crystal or fine glass; metals like oil rubbed bronze, polished or brushed brass and real silver; and fresh and faux greenery. Whether your decorations are casual or formal, nothing will bring your home to life like live and faux plant materials. Mother Nature is always tasteful.
The following materials from nature, the farmer’s market, the grocer’s produce section and your own back yard can be used in a variety of ways.
Pomegranates and red pears– great in groupings as centerpieces or to greet guests at the front door.
Lemons– If you’re lucky enough to have a tree, clear glass bowls of lemons are perfect for side boards and dressers. Add the leaves to the arrangements or use only the fruit.
Above Half Baked Harvest
Manzanita– I love the manzanita, though some people think of it as a weed. The smaller variety is especially nice for large basket arrangements. Cut plenty when doing manzanita arrangements, think the size of a small 15 foot tree and that’s usually enough to fill 2 to 3 baskets. You will usually have some waste, parts of the bush that aren’t usable.
Faux or fresh red apples– filling tall glass cylinders or in arrangements down the center of the table; in tall floral arrangements.
Cotoneaster-wonderful with their textured branches and red berries, beautiful in tall arrangements for dramatic centerpieces.
Above Shiree Segerstrom Design
Olive branches-classic, rustic, understated charm. Takes us back to the south of France. Beautiful in wreaths and tall floral arrangements, by itself or with
Magnolia– the underside of its leaves are a beautiful russet. They are perfect for swags, garlands, and wreaths. Magnolia is usually available this time of year but if you’re lucky enough to have your own tree you can craft your own decorations year round. Most beautiful on its own, without other greenery.
Above via Southern Living
Bay leaf– in live topiary form or in fresh wreaths. Fragrant and classic.
Myrtle– myrtle is the sweetest, most unappreciated plant. It’s not just for filling in florist bouquets! The tiny leaves and fragrant aroma is an absolute joy to have in the home.
Cedar cutting– natch.
Paper whites and Amaryllis– ‘forced’ bulbs are so special to have in the home at Christmas. Start them in the refrigerator for a few weeks then plant them indoors in pretty pots and soil or in bulb vases and jardinière. Stake with bamboo available at many floral supply stores and nurseries. Tie with raffia. Paper whites do get leggy after they’ve begun to bloom. Chilling the bulbs for several week fools them into thinking they’ve had their winter, then placing them in the warm house they think its spring! Not all bulbs can be ‘forced’ but paper whites, amaryllis and hyacinth are great candidates.
Above Shiree Segerstrom Design
Faux boxwood and cedar garlands– if you can find great quality faux (not at Hobby Lobby, Michael’s or JoAnn’s) they’re a great investment but can be hard to find. One good quality, moderately priced source I used years ago when I had my design stores was Sullivan’s.
NOTE: I’ve done my best to avoid including toxic plants but please, if you have pets or small children do double check all plant selections for safety and toxicity. Thank you!
5 Steps for Planning your Christmas Table
1-Tablecloths, napkins, and rings
2-place settings (charger, plates, flatware, stemware, place cards)
Most families prefer to sit down to Christmas dinner so centerpieces should be below eye level for the sake of conversation. For drama and elevation use clear glass, ceramic, or silver candelabras. You can do tall and dramatic floral arrangements on the buffet table. Low centerpieces tend to be visually boring so do use plenty of material. Using a variety of fresh greenery, start from the center and work your way out, tapering the arrangement at the ends. Fill in here and there with small red pear or pomegranates.
Above via Tall Grass Design
Use your best linens, preferably in shades of taupe, white, merlot, Kelly green or cognac. Use the best quality fabrics and keep patterns very subtle so the food and your guests will stand out.
I love the look of chargers and metallic gold is gorgeous this time of year. But don’t be afraid to mix formal with informal such as woven chargers and fine white linens. The contrast keeps things interesting. You can line the chargers with beautiful late fall leaves or brushed with olive oil or fresh myrtle. Place them on the charger in an artful way, then top with the dinner plate.
Place settings- You really miss out decoratively speaking if you don’t use chargers, napkin rings, place cards and place card holders. Chargers may not serve a practical function but they add an anchoring effect to your place settings. Plates look much more special if presented to your guests on a charger. Chargers can nicely replace placemats on formal occasions.
I love to personalize my napkin rings or place card holders. I do something different every year. One year I did my place cards from beautiful gift cards I’d bought at one of my design stores. Another year I placed little gold place card crowns inside vintage sherbet glasses. They really stood out.
Simple warm white plates are classic and elegant but quality china is even better. Mix and match your dinner plate and salad plate for visual interest. Experiment to see what works for you and your style of entertaining.
Candles– Tapers, candlesticks, candelabras and votive candle holders are ideal for holiday dinners and should always be unscented for such occasions. Scented candles ruin the taste of food. The type of candelabra you use depends on the style of your dining room. Playing it safe you can use formal candelabras within formal settings but if you’re adept at combining styles, by all means juxtapose formal styles with casual ones.
Serving pieces are the backdrop to your meal. Don’t be afraid to pull out the wedding platters, be they china, ceramic, or crystal. If you don’t have serving pieces invest in clean white ceramic platters with simple designs or white china with a gold rim. These never go out of style.
That’s it for today! If you’re preparing to do some organizing around the house come 2021, I have a downloadable gift just for you! You’re going to love it and get so much goodness from it. The Functional Home Blueprint will help you clear the clutter and redefine the zones in your home. In it you’ll learn to create work zones to get you organized and focused; how to make better areas in your home for downtime and re- connecting with yourself; how to carve out an exercise/wellness space even when there’s no room; and maximize your kitchen so you follow through with healthy eating.
Here’s that link again!
Bye for now, Shiree’