Looks can be deceiving—it’s actually incredibly easy to create a show-stopping display for your holiday table. With simple step-by-step instructions from florist Becky De Oliveira, owner of Blush & Bloom flower studio in Toronto, you’ll never be intimidated by a bouquet again.
“When buying flowers, it’s easy to be tempted by everything. Be sure to get a wide assortment of sizes, textures and lines,” says De Oliveira. “Limiting the colour palette can help you concentrate on the arrangement’s shape.” And to make your arrangements last longer, you can use flower preservatives, bleach or sugar in the water, but the best way to prolong the life of your arrangement is to start with a clean vessel filled with room temperature water, De Oliveira says. Change the water every other day and place it in a cool environment, away from the fireplace, TV, stove or other heat source.
Below, we share three easy floral arrangements that will steal the show this holiday season.
A stunning table runner
This low-lying arrangement will last sitting out on your table for about a week. Afterward, you can hang the dried pieces of eucalyptus in the shower. (It smells fantastic.)
Step 1: This approach is all about layering. Start with sturdy greenery, such as sprigs of eucalyptus and boxwood to create the base layer. Add in different shades and textures—for instance, tuck in lacy ferns and place magnolia leaves upside down.
Step 2: Build in more texture. We used pepper berries (available at florists), but you could also use pine cones, privet berries or branches of bright red winterberry.
Step 3: Add in colourful edible items, such as pomegranates, plums and pears. At the end of the meal, encourage guests to dig into the display.
A deconstructed bouquet of vases
Drinking glasses, short vases, skinny vessels, old pop bottles—anything goes for this arrangement. The secret, says De Oliveira, “is to stick to a general colour palette.”
You can buy specific blooms at a florist or deconstruct a grocery store bouquet. Place one type of flower in each vessel. “Use the natural curve of the flower to your advantage. Assess each stem and let it go the way it wants,” De Oliveira says.
Snip the stems of carnations or roses to create a cluster of colour. Let baby’s breath breathe on its own. Add a dramatic curving stem or two, and you’re done!
An easy-to-make off-kilter centrepiece
With this dynamic garden-style centrepiece, rules about symmetry don’t apply. Just follow the swoop of the stems to create a cool shape.
Step 1: First, make a sustainable florist “pillow” you can reuse. (Single-use florist foam is not environmentally friendly.) Cut a piece of chicken wire that’s double the width and height of your vessel. Fold the wire to form a loose ball and place in the vase—it should touch the bottom and sit higher than the mouth of the container. Add a cross of florist tape to keep it in place. Be sure to stick flowers through both layers of the chicken wire so that they stay in the water.
Step 2: Create a dramatic line by inserting a tall stem into the ball at a 45-degree angle. (We used larkspur.) Give the arrangement some dimension by adding other long-stemmed flowers of the same hue and/or variety at different heights and lengths—angle them like the spokes of a wheel. “Be sure to remove any foliage that will sit below the waterline in the vase,” says De Oliveira. “Flowers last longer this way.”
Step 3: Snip the stems of several roses or other large blooms so they’re about 3 to 4 inches long, and cluster them together to add a mass of colour. These flowers should conceal the mouth of the vase. Then create a few focal points by grouping showier blooms—like mums, ranunculus or tea roses—at different heights and levels. If you want to get that heady full-bloom look for roses, try blowing on them, De Oliveira suggests. “Hold the rose about an inch from your face, blow hard and it should unfurl nicely,” she says.
Step 4: Fill in any gaps by layering in elements with texture, such as berries, Queen Anne’s lace or greenery. Then add a dramatic low line to the arrangement with a few curving stems. But remember that less can be more. “Don’t feel as though you have to fill every empty spot in your arrangement,” De Oliveira says. “Negative spaces can create interesting lines and add visual drama.”