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Looking for an economical and eco-friendly way to deck your halls for the holiday season? Bundle up and take a nature walk with a pair of snippers — or head to a garden center or Christmas tree stand to forage for evergreens. To beautifully decorate from November until the New Year rings in, you just need a bit of greenery and some creativity. 

How lovely are thy branches
First, hunt for aromatic cedar and juniper: the artists among the greens. Their lovely branches will cascade effortlessly over cachepots and mantels, infusing an air of rustic elegance. Then, seek out elegant silver-toned pine boughs with their symphony of textures from sturdy stems, delicate needles and resilient pinecones. And letʼs not overlook spruce and fir — the stalwarts that stand strong to support ornaments and serve as the foundation for large porch pot arrangements. Next, seek out boxwood; its dense, vivid green foliage will provide a stunning visual element to any arrangement. And, finally, donʼt forget the magnolia leaves. This versatile canvas can remain natural or receive a metallic makeover with a splash of spray paint. 

Interestingly, sprigs of holly — the outdoor greenery most often associated with holiday decorating — only last about a week. Yet, there is no need for worry — just a bit of snipping and swapping will ensure your display remains a masterpiece.

Pruning for trimming
On the day of your pruning, follow these steps to increase the longevity of your greenery:

  • Snip greenery in the early morning or the late afternoon when the plantʼs moisture levels are high. 
  • Use sharp pruning shears or scissors and make clean cuts to minimize damage to the host plant. 
  • Trim stems on the diagonal to maximize water absorption, and place cut greenery in lukewarm water. 
  • Add a packet or two of floral preservatives to the water if you like. Many experts say cut foliage will benefit from soaking for several hours before you begin arranging. 
  • For prolonged freshness, avoid direct sunlight, radiators and heating vents, as these elements can diminish the green’s vitality. 
  • A periodic misting routine can preserve their color and fragrance, although exercise caution if your arrangements grace wooden surfaces. 
  • Anti-desiccant sprays like Wilt-Stop® can be your allies to create a protective shield around leaves and stems, ensuring they retain moisture even in adverse weather.

While these tips can help prolong the life of cut greenery, wilting, browning and shedding over time is expected. Swap out the tired sections with fresh greens when this natural process unfolds, and your décor will continue to shine. 

Now, letʼs talk about safety. All cut greenery is flammable and can be a fire hazard. Opt for flameless candles and battery-powered fairy lights to add that festive glow.

Naturally festive
Hereʼs the magical part of embracing greenery this holiday season: once youʼve established a verdant evergreen foundation, you become the master of adaptation for each subsequent celebration. Thanksgiving? Bring in the pumpkins, gourds, fall leaves and a sprinkle of fairy lights for warmth. As December approaches, bid farewell to pinecones and invite berries, ornaments and ribbons to give your décor a seasonal update. 

Interested in a touch of sparkle and whimsy? Take a cue from The Official Guide to Christmas in the South: If You Canʼt Fry It, Spray Paint It Gold (yes, itʼs an actual book!). Head outdoors, lay down some protective newspaper and let loose with a can of spray paint. Silver or white, with a dash of glitter – the choice is yours. Hold the can about a foot away, and give your ensemble a fresh look, ready for the spotlight. Even that forlorn pumpkin or autumnʼs chrysanthemum can bask in new-found glory with a bit of craft store magic! 

Donʼt let the festive spirit dwindle when the stockings have been tucked away and the wrapping paper finds its way to the bin. Scatter origami snowflakes and crystalline stars throughout your arrangements to brighten those winter days. Remember, choosing decorations that can be easily adapted and mixed to suit the changing holidays is key. This way, you can create an inviting atmosphere throughout the entire season. This year, work smarter, not harder, and let evergreen cuttings be the foundation of your holiday decorations.  


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