There’s no place like home for the holidays; last-minute gift, craft ideas make new traditions

FEATURE COLUMN – The holiday season invokes a unique nostalgia of childhood dreams, cozy fireplaces, warm scents, beautiful gifts, wonderful food, thoughtful deeds and being surrounded by those we love. The reality, however, is often stress over schedules, money, family drama and being spread far too thin. Sometimes, that perfect picture of how the holidays should be is the very thing that turns us into cranky, sleep-deprived, Grinch-hearted fiends by the time we make it to January. Making sure we take the time to connect with one another and choosing activities that restore our senses and create meaningful memories can help us simplify and add enjoyment to all the hustle and bustle.

For four generations, our family has loved the tradition of making centerpieces for our Thanksgiving tables and Christmas gifts for our neighbors. I remember fondly many hours spent with my parents and grandparents crafting dozens of arrangements, singing songs, breathing in the deeply aromatic scent of pine boughs and feeling the pure excitement of delivering our fresh creations to friends and neighbors. I have the delight of passing this tradition on to my children, nieces and nephews. It’s surprisingly easy to bring simple elements together to craft beautiful décor that has layers of meaning to everyone who sits at the table. Most of what we use comes from the shrubs and trees in our own yard and even the produce in our refrigerator.

Decking the halls and finding the perfect gift for relatives, neighbors, co-workers and friends can seem like an overwhelming task. Here again is an opportunity to simplify and choose activities that build memories. Consider a few gift ideas that are beautiful, personal and come straight from your heart and home (and don’t add inches to anyone’s waistline):

  • Planting a small pot with your favorite herb and adding a recipe to go along with it.
  • Making bags of holiday potpourri with juniper and cedar branches, small pinecones and acorns, dried citrus slices and a few drops of essential oils.
  • Taking a family field trip to the local nursery to pick out live plants. Poinsettias, orchids, bromeliads and even houseplants and succulents are great choices and help to lift others’ spirits months after the holidays have passed.
  • Picking up “dollar store” tumblers and placing a small layer of gravel and a narcissus bulb for winter forcing.

Finding ways of bringing the outdoors into our homes, weaving the glorious creations of Mother Nature into our traditions and spending our time with the people who matter most are things that can soothe our frazzled nerves and help us put the heart back in our homes this holiday season.

Niki Warner
Niki Warner

Written by Niki Warner for St. George Health and Wellness magazine and St. George News.

Warner is the co-founder and CEO of Botanicals, Inc. She is a master gardener, fourth-generation greenhouse grower and self-described plant geek. If you have design questions or are interested in receiving tips and techniques for holiday decorating, contact her at [email protected].

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Copyright St. George News, Inc. and St. George Health and Wellness magazine, 2013, all rights reserved.


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  • Tradition December 25, 2013 at 9:17 am

    The picture looks like an advertisement for a dental business. Cleaning, x-rays and exam for the entire family. Family rates for bleaching, too. Just look at all that bright white!

  • George December 25, 2013 at 10:36 am

    This picture just screams “I’m dreaming of an all-white Christmas”

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