Unexpected flowers make beautiful arrangements. Choose one, and be done.
Centerpiece in Seconds
Credit: Photography: William Dickey

Fresh with a kick is what you need. Simple and elegant, these minimal blossoms make a big impact during the holidays. The key: one flower made wonderful by repetition. Here's how to do it.

Holiday Hydrangeas
The last flower you'd expect to see this time of year can work wonders. Ask your florist in advance for white hydrangeas (they may need to be special ordered). Velvet ribbons and bauble garlands are sumptuous but keep it fun.

Get the Look
Fill three large brandy snifters with fresh cranberries and water. Cut hydrangea stems at an angle, about 6 inches long, and insert into each snifter. Tuck in a bunch of white pine needles and a sprig of holly. Velvet ribbon and sparkly garland make a perfect runner. Change water every three days, and blooms will last a week.

Ready-To-Party Carnations
What was once old and frumpy is now new again and very hip. Banish all thoughts of pastel prom tuxedos from your head; carnations are way beyond that. Bonus: They last a long time (around two weeks) and cost about a dollar a stem.

Get the Look
Cut the stem of one carnation just beneath the swollen base of the flower. Float the bloom in a partially filled saucer-style Champagne glass. Cut the stem of a second bloom short. Stuff a small piece of water-soaked cotton, the size of a cotton swab tip, into the stem with a toothpick. Wrap the end with florist tape to retain moisture. Display on a mirror dusted with artificial snow.

Sweet-Looking Peppermint Stick Tulips
A breath of fresh air, these bright beauties are the perfect touch for the kitchen or bath. If you need more volume to fill a larger space, pair the vase of tulips with something green, such as a terra-cotta pot filled with wheatgrass, a rosemary topiary, or a dwarf conifer.

Get the Look
Wrap a tube-shaped vase vertically with wide, candy-stripe ribbon. Cut five tulip stems at an angle, and insert them into the water-filled vase. Group several vases for a pretty arrangement. Recut the stems every other day, and the display should last almost a week.

This article is from the December 2005 issue of Southern Living.