by Marie Doyon
You can buy a prefab centerpiece for pretty cheap, with artificial flowers, plastic holly berries, and that special “holiday scent” to boot, but there is nothing quite like the homemade thing. Plus, you can make a centerpiece with just about anything and in very little time. If you’ve been dragging your feet on that Autumn yard cleanup, get out there and harvest yourself some sprigs of spruce, pine cones galore, and (of course) boughs of holly—that’s step one.
The holiday wreath is a timeless classic. To make your own, buy a double ring wire form at your local hardware store or craft shop. Or for an even homier version, bend two wire coat hangers into a circle, and tape them together. Weave 8- to 10-inch evergreen boughs throughout, overlapping the stems, and attaching to the frame with lightweight floral wire. Continue until the metal frame is completely covered. You can add pine cones or ornaments easily, using the same floral wire to secure them. If you’d like, you can glue a bow to the hanger hooks. Or for a fragrant touch, use sprigs of rosemary instead of evergreen foliage. After you have completed your wreath, set it on your table and place a candle in a glass holder in the center.
If that sounds like too much trouble, one of the easiest centerpiece options is to fill a clear vessel (think vase or punch bowl) with ornaments—decorative balls, snowmen, dreidels, mini menorahs, etc. For a more adventurous version, try arranging your ornaments on a single-level cake stand with a glass cover, or on an open, tiered stand. Use the greenery you harvested from your yard to add fresh, naturally scented accents.
The secret key to adding a colorful splash to your holiday decor is…cranberries! Who knew? Yes, cranberries are a staple of the homemade popcorn garland, but there are so many more possibilities. This year, try setting out your holiday candles on a long, skinny tray. Fill the spaces in between the candles with cranberries to add a flurry of color. For extra fun, sprinkle faux snow on top for that “freshly fallen” look.
Alternately, you can fill the bottom of any clear vase, urn, or mason jar with cranberries for a pop. Stick a tea light on top to set everything aglow. Or, if you plan to have flowers at the dinner table, you can set the flowers in your cranberry-filled container and add water. White roses make a nice contrast.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, the centerpiece pictured at the right will have you licking your lips. Attach candy canes to a vase with a hot-glue gun. Anchor your flowers of choice (red roses?) in floral foam. If you like, spray the candy canes with coats of clear acrylic spray to avoid stickiness. Finish the look, with a ribbon around the middle and a mint.
Whichever way you go, have fun with it—have your kids and spouse help, put some carols on in the background. Fresh, pretty, and handcrafted does not have to mean expensive, time consuming, or difficult. You can find the happy middle ground this holiday season. (Plus you will be entitled to bragging rights whenever anyone comes over.)
Snow Globe Tutorial
by Nixie Sparrow
• Mason jar
• Mini animal figurine: make sure it is small enough to fit on the lid of the Mason jar with enough room for other miniatures.
• Styrofoam: 1/4 inch thick
• Mini white tree figurines (3 total: 2 medium, 1 small)
• Glitter (gold or white)
• Glue gun
Start out by cutting a piece of Styrofoam that can sit inside the seal line of the Mason jar lid. You want to make sure there is enough space so the lid can close tightly once you have your items in place.
When foam is cut out, hot glue the Styrofoam disc to the inside of the lid. This creates height so you can see the mini figures once in place. You can also use a small piece of foam to sit on top of large foam to form a smaller looking hill.
Now that you have the base glued in place, start to place the mini animal and trees on the foam to get an idea of placement.
When you have your little winter scene the way you like it, double check that it is not too big or tall for the Mason jar by placing the jar overtop so the rim of the jar sits nicely in the lid. You want to make sure the trees are not touching the inside bottom of the jar. Once everything is in place, glue down the figures.
If everything fits well, remove the jar and add a handful of glitter. Fill the jar with water but make sure there is enough room so it doesn’t overflow once the winter scene is inside. With the Mason jar full of water and glitter, start to submerge the glued winter scene into place and tighten lid until sealed.
Shake up your winter snow globe and ENJOY!
Nixie Sparrow is a DIY workshop space located in Beacon, NY. For more information and a list of upcoming classes visit nixiesparrow.com.