I am no Martha Stewart, but I love giving and receiving homemade gifts. I also like being resourceful and creative, maybe because I can’t run out to a hobby store when I need to decorate for the holidays. The closest one is at least 50 miles away.
But the greatest satisfaction I’ve gotten from holiday gift-making and decorating has come from using materials from our garden, and Jacqueline’s post last week inspired me to try some new projects this year and share some past attempts at bringing the outdoors inside to enrich holiday celebrations.
Get crafty with herbs in the kitchen and on the table. My daughter, Rebecca Higgins, shaped the beautiful rose napkin at the top of this post and added a simple sprig of rosemary. Being less crafty, I cheated and used a napkin holder another year. Most important is the rosemary — a perfect herb for seasoning poultry, too. It’s also not too hard to dry herbs like oregano, lavender and thyme to use in holiday dishes or décor.
Grow evergreen plants. Not only do they add to the view when you’re stuck inside, but having a few evergreen herbs, trees or shrubs means you always will have some natural living greens to bring inside. Want to see what grows in your area? Catch Jacqueline’s Holiday Evergreens course before it expires next month!
Use natural elements from your garden. You don’t need evergreen branches or pine cones for holiday décor. I love using red twig dogwood branches, harvested rose hips, rocks and pieces of dried wood in gifts or centerpieces. Or reward yourself with a succulent or new houseplant to serve as the focal point of a holiday centerpiece or entry way décor.
Grow cut flowers. I can’t grow cutting flowers in winter, but I can press late-summer blooms for gifts or decorating. Imagine a frame like the one above filled with pressed red roses or poppies and some greenery. What an elegant way to use your plants for holiday cheer. In the low desert, plant an annual like snapdragons or baby’s breath (Gypsophila) for winter arrangements. If a freeze is coming, cut some to dry.
Embrace your Southwest culture. Luminarias are easy to assemble and ristras, which bring cheer all year, work especially well as subtle Christmas wreaths and porch décor. Have a friend or relative who moved away? Send the family anything red chile (ristras, candy or coated pistachios) and they’ll think of you over the holidays.
Don’t worry about “Nailing it.” Most of all, make this fun and rewarding. Enjoy walking around your yard or neighborhood for ideas or running outside to cut a rosemary stem as you set the table. You don’t have to “nail it” so it looks exactly like the magazine or Pinterest image that inspired you. I loved the centerpiece above I made one year with items from our garden, but you won’t see a photo of the pumpkin flower arrangement I tried another year. It didn’t look at all like the inspiration photos!