Make Your Holiday Decorations the Natural Way

Nov 21, 2019

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Make Your Holiday Decorations the Natural Way

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Bring a natural look to your holiday celebrations by crafting with wild-harvested materials

When you’re ready to decorate your home for family gatherings this season, you should consider looking for materials in a surprising location: the great outdoors. Sourcing natural materials can be a great way to make authentic, sustainable decor. And with OnStar, you can explore well beyond your local holiday markets with the added peace of mind that comes from knowing OnStar Advisors are there for you if the unexpected happens.

“I tell people to get out there in your backyard, or take a drive, and see what is blooming right now or what’s making a seed head. Look for what really speaks to you,” says Christine Hoffman, owner and designer at Foxglove, a flower studio in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Hoffman teaches workshops to show others how to make high-quality decorations from natural, “wild-harvested” materials. That means things like flowers, seed pods, vines, leaves and branches, rather than plastics or paints. It’s a great way to create natural-looking decor and can be an easy DIY project for fall afternoons. At Foxglove, classes on table decorations and wreaths are in especially high demand: “I’d say those are my top two most popular workshops,” Hoffman says.

The first step, of course, is to head out into nature and gather your materials. However, only do so in places where you have permission — that’s why Hoffman prefers the term “wild harvesting” to “foraging.” Private property, as well as city, state and national parks, is usually off-limits. “You don’t want every person to go to the same park and clip five branches for their holiday decor,” she says.

Instead, Hoffman recommends looking on your own land, or that of a friend or family member. “I luckily have family property with a cabin on it,” she says. “I’m sure a number of people might have that opportunity once in a while to go to a family member’s or friend’s cabin.” Also ask nearby small farms if you can search for materials, or visit Christmas tree farms, which may give away scraps and cuttings for free. Tracking down these farms and wild-harvesting locations is a good excuse to take a drive and explore areas you haven’t been to before.

When you’re out finding somewhere to gather natural materials, you’ll want the added confidence that comes from having OnStar on your side. With a paid Safety & Security Plan,*4 you can push the blue OnStar button to talk to an Advisor if you need directions or other assistance. And if the unexpected happens and you’re involved in a crash, Automatic Crash Response*16 can connect you to an Emergency-Certified Advisor*64 who can send for help, even if you can’t ask for it.

With materials gathered, what goes in to creating those DIY crafts? For wreaths, Hoffman avoids machine-made frames or foams, instead using grapevine or willow branches to form the shape of the wreath. Then she uses techniques she calls “twining” and “bunching” to add various materials, whether those items be pinecones, seed pods, leaves or almost anything else.

“You either twine materials through the natural wreath form, or you create little bunches and attach those to the wreath,” she says. “I tell people not to get too worked up about things looking perfect and to kind of let the natural materials speak for themselves.”

When it comes to decorating your table for a big meal, such as Thanksgiving, Hoffman recommends going for a low-stress strategy rather than trying to create a single elaborate centerpiece. Simply arranging an assortment of found materials around the table can be as visually effective — and also requires far less time and energy.

“I am all about taking the stress out of any family gathering,” she says. “Setting a holiday table can take literally 15 to 30 minutes if you have a backyard that you can go clip a few things from. Adding some natural materials can be really quick and easy.”

For starters, you might consider using branches or vines to create a garland down the center of a table, with additional flowers or other items for decoration. Or arrange smaller floral elements on each table, since they take up far less space than a traditional centerpiece.

“I’ll maybe do some low, votive candle-sized arrangements to be set among other things,” Hoffman says. “It’s nice to keep all of the floral elements rather low and unobtrusive to leave room for the food and for people to be able to see each other across the table and have a conversation.”

The move to more naturally sourced decoration fits in with broader societal trends. As consumers embrace environmentalism and authentic designs, “going to the grocery store and buying a bouquet of flowers is not as appealing,” Hoffman says. “They want to have a more natural feel, and they’re interested in checking out their backyard and seeing what they can maybe bring inside and stick in a vase.”

The bottom line is that you no longer have to buy pre-made decorations that are only on display for a few days per year. Instead, enthusiastic DIY-ers can create something beautiful out of the materials they find around them. And with the added confidence that comes from having OnStar on your side, you can feel freer to go out and explore new places to find those materials.

“I feel like people should be more connected to their natural surroundings and get out there in every season,” Hoffman says, “To see what looks good and what has new possibility for them that they maybe wouldn’t have thought of before.”