Quite an interesting holiday invitation came my way last year. Some of our editors, who were outlining story ideas for this issue, asked me to write about how I decorate my home for the Christmas season. As you can imagine, I was delighted by their request but a little apprehensive. Would I be able to think of something that you'd want to try? Could I make my own place look as good as the beautiful homes we always feature? I wasn't at all sure, but a few garden items and fresh greenery helped me face the challenge.
Each December, I decorate my rooms a little differently, and this time I decided to rethink a few familiar ideas. I remembered seeing an unusual wreath that was not open in the center, but solid, like a medallion. It seemed a perfect concept to develop for these photographs. A pair of unique-looking Christmas trees would also be ideal, because they could be used to create symmetry in many ways. I searched for tall iron topiary forms to provide bases for evergreen foliage but could not find suitable shapes. Then I thought of tomato cages, those inexpensive wire contraptions that keep tomato plants from toppling over. A stack of them arranged in nice garden urns would give a cone-shaped form and the height needed.
Because the sunroom receives the best light in my house and consequently photographs well, I decided to place the decorations there. An Irish pine dresser is the largest piece in the room, and it holds many important keepsakes from family and longtime friends. I loved the idea of indirectly making all those sentimental favorites a part of both the decorations and this article.
So I bedecked the old piece with velvet ribbon and a thick garland of fresh greenery. In the center I hung my version of the medallion wreath, made simply by attaching circles of dried pomegranates, artichokes, and other natural materials to a large plastic disk with a glue gun (see instructions below). An evergreen wreath gave it a background of lush greenery.
I spiraled garlands loosely around the tomato cage topiaries and then placed twinkling lights, wire-edged ribbon, and dried pomegranates and artichokes in the foliage. It took a while to get everything just right, but the final effect was quite dramatic. Senior Homes Photographer Jean Allsopp devoted a whole day to the fabulous images you see here. I love how she captured the warm, cozy glow that gives the room an old-fashioned look.
It was great fun to experiment with these ideas, and a few variations are already beginning to come to mind for next year. But this December, the decorations I'm planning in advance of a little party will be much easier, thanks to last year's dress rehearsal.TOMATO CAGE TOPIARIES
- 12 to 15 tomato cages for each topiary
- duct tape
- garden urns
- evergreen garland
- florist wire
- cuttings of greenery (such as pine, fir, balsam, and cedar)
- tree lights
- wide ribbon
- dried pomegranates and artichokes
- plastic spill guard
- marking pen
- green spray paint
- glue gun and glue sticks
- dried pomegranates
- dried artichokes (large and small)
- pepperberries with stems
- green sheet moss
- drill and drill bits
- florist wire
- evergreen wreath
- small pinecones
"From My House to Yours" is from the December 2002 issue of Southern Living.