The mad dash of the holiday season is about to begin, and that means it's time to start preparing your home for big dinners and festive parties.
House & Garden magazine's Stephen Orr visited The Saturday Early Show with suggestions for decor that will grace your home forThanksgiving, then carry through the rest of the holiday season.
Decorating with fruits and nuts is a tradition that dates back centuries. The last crop of the season was placed on the mantle and the table as a celebration of bounty. Orr says decorating with fruits and nuts brings a timeless, sophisticated look to your home.
Unlike poinsettias and berries, the items don't scream "Christmas!" The look is appropriate for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas, which is convenient for the busy homemaker who doesn't want to spend the season putting up and taking down decorations.
Orr showed us a tall topiary that's made almost completely from dried fruits and nuts and a sprinkling of dried flowers. It's an item that will last throughout the season and for years to come. The form itself is a giant styrofoam cone.
Orr attaches the large pieces of fruit with wooden florist stakes. The smaller pieces are attached using a hot glue gun. To keep the topiary from looking like a hodgepodge, you'll want to incorporate some sort of pattern into your design. In our topiary, orange slices have been strung together into a long rope, which wraps around the cone from top to bottom, reminiscent of garland on a Christmas tree.
The topiary does include a few fresh plums. These won't last forever, but Orr says they do look nice even when their skins start to wrinkle. After a couple of weeks you'll want to replace the plums. Incorporating a few fresh pieces into the topiary is smart because it allows you to change the look of the piece.
Orr demonstrated a low, round centerpiece that uses green hydrangeas, small green and white cabbages, and fresh fruit. Because all of the elements are fresh, the centerpiece is something you would create for a dinner party and only plan on keeping for a few days.
Some fruits will last longer than others. Basically, the more moisture a fruit holds, the faster it will perish. For example, figs and grapes will go bad more quickly than apples and pears. Also, if you puncture the skin of the fruit -- as you have to do when creating the topiary -- it will perish faster. You can gently nestle fruit into the centerpiece, which means it will last longer.
Orr showed a mantelpiece decoration that he says is easy to create. The pieces of greenery are bundled together and tied with bands of green wire. The greenery drapes off the front. It's anchored by a curtain rod, which lays across the back of the mantle - exactly as you might drape a piece of material across the top of a window. If you don't want your greenery to drape off the mantle, you can just lay it on top.
The green hydrangeas make an appearance again here. Their stems have been cut short and the flowers placed in small vials of water. The plastic vials can be purchased at flower shops or craft stores. Bunches of walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts are glued together to form attractive clusters. Like the centerpiece, fruits are simply nestled into the greenery. Handrangeas often dry beautifully, but the fruit will have to be replaced throughout the season. This gives you an opportunity to change the entire feel of your mantlepiece quickly and easily. For instance, consider replacing green pears and deep purple plums with red pomegranates.
As a final, quick idea, Orr says you can even decorate your gifts with fruits and nuts by using a hot glue gun to attach small clusters of nuts and wheat to ribbons.
Available at Lexington Gardens for about $575.
Call (212) 861-4390 for purchase.
Cherubs, pewter pieces
Available at Arte Italica