Most Americans are familiar with this famous Christmas carol that originated in England during the Victorian era. Both holly and ivy are conveniently also two plants in abundance in South Carolina. English ivy is an invasive nuisance if not controlled; a beautiful accompaniment to other foliage if managed. Holly sports its signature red berries in the late fall and winter months. Choosing such plants as decorations for the holidays is just what local designers like Cricket Newman suggest. Instead of traipsing to the local hobby shop or department store, venture no farther than your own yard — or the yard of a friend or neighbor.
“Natural decorations look and smell wonderful, they can save money, but more than that — they evoke memories or thoughts of a more simple time,” says Cricket, who owns Cricket Newman Designs, an upscale event design company in Columbia. Cricket says her grandmother’s nature-inspired decorating style and gracious entertaining skills have been her inspiration.
Cricket first looks at what is needed for certain locations and then decides what she might make or arrange. “I think logistics and practicality first, and then my creative side kicks in. If it won’t hold up or is a logistical nightmare, to me it’s not a good design.”
Her philosophy is that less is more. A little of the outdoors, not the entire forest, can be brought indoors to enjoy. She suggests involving children to gather greenery and other adornments: moss, cones and even feathers, for example. “Focus on all of the different shapes, colors and variegations of all the wonderful plants, shrubs and trees native to our area,” she suggests.
Cricket says that ideas for natural decorations are simply everywhere. Look at cones that are clustered on trees and then cluster garlands and arrangements — including different textures and variations in greens and browns. Floral, vintage holiday and design sites provide countless ideas as well.
One factor to consider is how long the outdoor elements can maintain fresh color and texture with or without water. Some might be able to exist for a while without it; others might need to be put in a shallow or deep vase or container of some kind.
Making the Feather and Acorn Wreath
• Gather grapevine — a great way to clean out your flowerbeds!
• Strip the vine but leave the tendrils to add novelty (this will be the basis of two designs).
• Wrap in a circular motion and clip or wrap the end to make a small wreath.
• Start in the middle of the wreath and begin wrapping reindeer and Spanish moss with lightweight metallic wire (Cricket chose copper). Spray the reindeer moss with water to make it easy to manipulate.
• Lay the moss in the direction you are wrapping.
• Once you are satisfied with the amount of moss on the wreath, push feathers into the moss and wire combo … wherever you like!
• Come back through the top with the end of the wire and make a loop for hanging.
• Hot glue acorns at the top of the wreath.
Making the Hanging Terrarium
• Pick red berries, a piece of cedar that looks tree-like and mood moss. Then, spritz with water.
• Pull the cedar through the moss to make it stand up, and put both in terrarium.
• Place a touch of holly with berries and slide under to add a pop of color.
• Place different shades of moss in the back.
• Add slightly burnished acorns to add a little shine. To burnish, use a cup of water and spray gold spray paint on the top; then, dip the bottom of the acorn into the mixture.
• For another texture, add a woody look using fungus from the side of a tree
Making the Grapevine Double-Wreath
• Trim an English boxwood where the limb meets the trunk to keep your boxwood healthy.
• Gloss the boxwood leaves using leafshine.
• Lay boxwood stems around grapevine wreath (see how to make wreath on page 78) and wrap with a thick metallic wire.
• Make two more grapevine wreaths with each being different enough in size to fit inside one another.
• Place the middle-sized wreath inside the large wreath and hold at top; then, place the small wreath inside the middle-sized wreath and fasten all together using the gold wire at the top.
• Manipulate the wreath to make it a 3-dimensional globe.
• You could also add holly with red berries or mistletoe to hang in the center wreath.
Making the Basket
• Put a plastic lining (a small pot liner would work) inside the basket so it doesn’t drip.
• Add rocks to help drain the water.
• Place succulent inside basket.
• Tuck Spanish moss around the succulent stems.
• Spray reindeer moss with light water to alter its shape.
• Tuck reindeer moss around the Spanish moss and the succulent stems to add a different color and texture