Whether it’s your Christmas tree, bannister, mantel or a tabletop display, the best way to make your holiday decor stunning is to start with my two favorite tools: greens and ribbons.
Gorgeous greens take your displays to the next level, and holiday ribbons give them character and charm.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
▪ Add picks to your tree. The secret to a sensational Christmas tree is to pop it up with greenery picks. Think of your undecorated tree as the base of your display, that “little black dress” just waiting for the right accents. Before you add the ornaments, tuck in a mix of greenery picks. When you add variations in colors, textures and sizes, you give your tree added dimension. For more drama, use long picks that extend out from the cone of the tree and ascend from the tree’s top.
▪ Make your mantels lush. Give your mantel display more visual punch by including some long, strong picks that overhang the sides and front of the fireplace. Work in picks that contrast with the base garland on your mantel to bring in more pizzazz, like red berries, silver leaves, bare sticks and pinecones.
▪ Thread greens into displays around your home. A great way to add a splash of holiday cheer to your home without putting in tons of time is to simply add some greens to your existing displays.
▪ Birch logs are having a heyday. You’ll see them on top of book shelves, on table displays and even zip-tied into Christmas trees. We rested a few on top of a bookcase, then filled in with faux pine greens. It’s a great way to give that empty space above your tall cabinets some seasonal charm, and it just takes minutes.
▪ Mix up your ribbons. Bev, our seasonal floral designer at Nell Hill’s, is a wiz with ribbons, and in display after display at the stores, she shows how long strips of wired fabric can take a space from meh to marvelous. “A lot of times, your wreath, your tree, your mantel or bannister is more about the ribbon than anything else,” she says. Just changing out the accent ribbons you use on your tree will give it new life, she says.
Using ribbons can be intimidating if you don’t know where to start. Bev suggests first picking a mix of several ribbons for your displays, pulling together different weights, widths, colors and patterns. She often layers two ribbons, one on top of the other, with the widest or heaviest one in the back.
▪ Work with manageable lengths of ribbon. Bev suggests cutting the ribbon into lengths of about three yards each so you can work with it more easily. You can finish the ends in a straight cut or a traditional dart. Bev likes to then twist the ribbon sections into loose, lazy loops.
When she’s using ribbon on a Christmas tree, she gently pokes the sections of ribbon into the branches of the tree, starting top down, side to side. She never winds the ribbon strips all the way around the tree, but instead tucks them in, section by section, because she finds it’s easier to work with the ribbon that way and she likes the finished look better.
▪ Make mock bows. I could not tie a beautiful bow to save my life, and I’m guessing a lot of you are in the same predicament. So we use a cheater technique you might like to try, too. Just create loops with your ribbon until it forms a bow you like, then secure them in place at the bottom, using wire or a zip tie. That’s it!
Mary Carol Garrity owns two Nell Hill’s shops in the Kansas City area. This column was adapted from her blog at nellhills.com.