It’s The Holidays, ‘Naturally’!

By Lana Torre

Is the stress of holiday decorating getting you down? Do you detest styrofoam evergreen trees on your holiday table? Does the thought of pouring over holiday catalogs to find the perfect centerpiece give you indigestion?

Give yourself and your family the gift of a natural holiday. Gather up the kidlets, grab your pruning shears, some tattered old tote bags, and your best pair of gardening gloves. Take a walk around your yard or a friend’s field, or find a wooded area nearby.

Look for bird’s nests, berries, herbs, seed pods, feathers, small branches with leaves, and pine cones of different sizes. If your pine cones have lost their scent, spray with evergreen oil. I have a secret ‘spot’ where I clip rose hips. They are so beautiful and such a deep red. I very carefully clip the hips and remove any thorns. I then put them in a large plastic bag and spray with bug spray. When I am ready to decorate, I will place a large bunch of hips mixed with evergreen branches in an old silver pitcher, add a festive ribbon… simply beautiful!

Slip some florist wire through a bird’s nest and hang from your tree or wreath. Collect your seed pods and give them a spray of gold paint. I also love to dry artichokes, the mini version, and spray them gold too. Place them in a large, clear, glass bowl for a centerpiece on the dining room table.

On a Saturday morning at the public market buy lots of citrus fruit. Lemons, limes and oranges studded with cloves remind me of Christmas’ past, and the aroma is still engrained in my mind. You can also slice the citrus very thinly, lay the slices on a screen and allow them to air dry. Take a needle and fishing line and thread them in a line to make scented garlands for your tree. If you are the old fashioned type, string popcorn and cranberries in long lines to drape across the mantle. Remember stale popcorn always strings best.

If your plan is to prune your evergreens and use the branches to make roping or wreaths, prune late. Evergreens dry out quickly. If you do prune, keep them cut side down in a bucket of water, with a splash of bleach. I cut holly and pachysandra from my garden and make small bunches to hang from the arms of my dining room chandelier. After they are attached with pipe cleaners, I will add ribbon to secure the greens. If you save ribbon from year to year [like I do], grab your curling iron and run the ribbon through it, much easier than the Rowenta! If you make garlands and wreaths from fresh greens, after assembly simply spritz them with clear floor wax and they will look shiny and fresh for weeks. If you wish your tree to look like it was just cut from a snowy forest, sprinkle the branches with baking soda.

This season, give your family the gift of a natural holiday,

Mother Nature approves.

Happiest of holidays to our readers!

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