Holiday Decorating Tips – from High-End Floral Experts & Interior Designers

By Erik J. Martin

The holiday season is a magical time when colors, aromas, sounds, textures, and other elements are present to stir the senses and create a festive ambiance. However, looking closer at the sources of many of these stimuli, it’s easy to see that many are synthetic – from plastic adornments to artificial Christmas trees. But you can bring organic balance to your décor and beautify your home naturally by incorporating floral arrangements and foliage.

“Decorating with holiday floral arrangements is a fantastic way to transition your home into the festive spirit in a way that enhances the personal vibe already happening in your interior. By selecting plants, flowers, and containers you are already drawn to, it becomes both celebratory and personal,” says Elizabeth Ryan, principal at Elizabeth Ryan Interiors.

Abby Marion, marketing manager of Albin Hagstrom & Son, a family-owned and operated grower and shipper of cut foliage and greenery products, says research has proven that flowers and floral arrangements can raise levels of serotonin and boost endorphins, thus making them scientifically proven to improve happiness.


“During the holidays, among plenty of parties, dinners, and other special events, flowers are an easy, low-effort way to bring in the magic of the season,” Marion notes.

Floral arrangements also provide the opportunity to try unique combinations and creative pairings.

“A combination of moss, burgundy, and chartreuse may feel intriguing this season. There is so much room to experiment, and florals give more margin for garnering attention than a typical manufactured arrangement,” Ryan says.

Plus, with the variety of floral decor available, you can layer color and texture in a way that would fall flat with manufactured items.

“The depth and nuance of colors with just a few carefully selected flowers and stems create a great opportunity for something unique and special this time of year,” Ryan continues.

Popular foliage and container colors during Yuletide include red, white, green, silver, and gold.

“Textures, such as rustic wood, evergreen needles, and shiny ribbon ALL add a special layer to all types of holiday floral designs. Plus, scents from fragrant flowers like lilies and roses as well as spruce, Leyland cypress, and magnolia add a crowning touch,” says Marion.

Before choosing your foliage combinations, think carefully about the holiday atmosphere your interiors and other existing décor convey.

“For a classical design, I recommend choosing two colors and selecting flowers and varied hues and textures of those two colors. You can use a Chinese porcelain urn or a brass container to emphasize the timelessness of the design,” advises Ryan. “For a whimsical or punchy arrangement, choose two similarly toned flowers and one hard-left choice to incite a double-take. Stone urns and molded plaster pots are good grounding containers when the flowers and stems have a lot of movement.”

Flowers that work well in arrangements and are more unique than traditional holiday selections include antique hydrangeas, thistle, scabiosa, green ball, and protea.

“Live plants such as poinsettias, Jade, and peace lilies can be jazzed up for Christmas by putting them in a festive container topped with a bow or staked decorations,” suggests Marion.

Give top priority to the vessel for your arrangement.

Use twine to give white ceramic pots a neutral and rustic appearance, or level up a plain glass vase with a velvet ribbon loosely strung about a third of the way from the top. A vintage wicker basket might make a wonderful foundation for a floral arrangement, too.

December is also an opportune time for holiday wreaths, which are often made from traditional Northwest evergreens like spruce pine and Colorado blue or Southern evergreens such as magnolia and Carolina sapphire cypress.

“Garlands, door swags, centerpieces, and ornamental floral decorations that hang on walls and fixtures are easy to arrange on your table or display,” Marion adds.

Speaking of centerpieces, take it a step further by incorporating votive candles and holders, pinecones dusted with metallic litter, and even apples and pears.