Keeping Holiday Greenery Fresh

Separating fantasy from reality is key to keeping holiday greenery fresh.

You want your greenery to be supple and fragrant - but you also want to recreate the picturesque times of Christmases past with your holiday decorations.

Unfortunately, Rudyard Kipling's words sum it up best here: "...never the twain shall meet."

Don't despair. You can adjust your holiday fantasy to meet today's decorating reality - and still create a magical Christmas backdrop.

fantasy versus reality.

Fantasy: Deck the halls with boughs of holly...

Reality: Anyone who has ever tried to deck anything with holly has discovered it can dry to a crisp indoors in a day or two if you don't stick its little boughs in floral foam.

Fantasy: A website or magazine photo showing a roaring holiday fire with lush, fresh lighted garland draped from the mantel.

Reality: That scene is the before picture. The magazine never shows the after picture with toasted garlands dripping with brown, dried-out needles.

We all want the old-fashioned kind of Christmas holiday decorations we read about in books. The kind with greenery draped down banisters and across mantels.

The kind with huge Christmas trees bedecked with candles. The kind with fresh Christmas wreaths and mistletoe and kissing balls and...

What we forget is that these idealized Christmases occurred long ago - before central heat. In modern times (when we don't have to wear gloves indoors), the holiday fantasy must undergo a little reality check.

We can still deck our halls - we just need to know how to maintain them safely.

1. choosing Holiday Greenery.

garland, swag, christmas wreaths:

For indoor holiday decorations, choose pine, fir, and cedar.

These cuttings dry out more slowly than other greenery and may last several weeks if you keep them cool.

2. Holiday Greenery Prep.

The best way to ensure holiday greenery is fresh is to cut it yourself. Look in your own backyard for fresh Christmas decorating ideas.

The advantage of using what comes from your yard: It's cheap, and the materials will be unique to your home.

If you buy your greenery, give the pine needles the old Christmas tree test: Bend them. If they are brown, or if they break, buy elsewhere.

3. tips for fresh christmas greenery.

  • Plan on putting holiday greenery up a week or two before Christmas.
  • Buy or harvest greenery as close as possible to when you plan to use it.
  • If you buy greenery early, keep it outside until needed.
  • Before you put outdoor wreaths on the doors, or drape the garlands, soak them overnight in a bathtub filled with water so they can absorb as much water as possible. This will help keep your holiday greenery fresh.
  • If you bring branches home to make your own swags, garlands and wreaths, re-cut the ends and pound them with a hammer so they will absorb more water. Then soak them overnight in the tub.
  • If you make flower arrangements, keep your holiday flowers in the garage or outside when not on display.




4. Holiday Decorating Do's.

  • If you plan to have a lighted garland or holiday arrangement, use cooler LED Christmas lights.
  • Keep holiday greenery fresh by keeping it away from heat vents, the fireplace and sunny windows.
  • Check holiday greenery for freshness every couple of days. Replace sections that are brown or are dropping leaves or pine needles.
  • Mist every couple days to keep greenery fresh.

5. Holiday Decorating Don'ts.

  • Don't decorate too early. The longest lasting greenery - fir - will only keep about four weeks indoors (if you're lucky).
  • Don't use greenery in displays with candles.
  • Don't drape garlands from a mantel if you plan to use the fireplace.
  • If you have children or pets, don't use greenery with poisonous berries such as holly, yew, ivy, Jerusalem cherry, bittersweet, crown of thorns, or mistletoe.

Finally, with any evergreen decoration, be sure to keep a broom handy. You'll need it.













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About the Author

Tara Aronson is a native Californian. Having grown up in San Diego, she studied journalism and Spanish to pursue a career in newspaper writing. Tara, whose three children - Chris, Lyndsay, and Payne - are the light of her life, now lives and writes in Los Angeles. She also regularly appears on television news programs throughout the U.S.