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Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

I know!! Even typing that headline seems anathema! How could I possibly even CONSIDER faux evergreen decor for Christmas?!

 

I — who love *living* surfaces like Danby marble and soapstone?! (Even while I specify manufactured look-alikes such as Neolith and quartz for most of my clients, who prefer low maintenance options.)

I — who celebrate the dings and scrapes in my 200+ year-old wood floors and would not think of refinishing them in my lifetime?! (Too much hassle, and they’ll just get scraped up again anyway.)

I — who look upon the uneven surfaces of my plaster walls and would rather give them an eggshell finish to HIGHLIGHT their character, rather than try to make them disappear?! (Nothing is going to make these walls look flat, so why try?)

I — who live in New Hampshire, where there are far more pine trees than people per square mile?!

 

Now, before you get your knickers in a twist, let me just ease your mind about one thing — I am NOT considering a faux Christmas tree. We live less than a mile from a Christmas tree farm, so not having a real tree would further aid the depression of the local economy and create bad blood between neighbors.

 

Let me back up a bit.

 

Decorating for Christmas — It’s Only Taken 8 Years

 

I’m late to the holiday decorating game, both this year alone and in the fact that it’s taken me nearly 8 years to get into doing it for real in our home.

If you’ve been a reader of The Saturday Blog for a while, you know that I advise careful interior design for the Forever Home (done in stages, if budget so dictates) and that I stress quality and character that will stand the test of time … rather than a quick fix that you’ll later regret and toss in a landfill (or live with and hate for the next 20 years). 

I’ve kind of taken that attitude with my Christmas decorating as well. I’ve never had a Christmas tour of my home on the blog because only after completing the Remuddle Remodel did I feel that we had a cohesive enough space to really decorate (besides having the tree, these amazing cordless window candles, and some hand-me-down decorations that we just kind of slapped up anywhere).

 

I never wanted to buy decor that I would just end up throwing out the next year because it wasn’t well considered.

 

So THIS YEAR — 2020 — I was really looking forward to FINALLY begin decorating our home for Christmas.

 

I bought a few new items (I’ll show you in a bit), but I thought I would begin with natural greenery. Now, I’m no Martha Stewart. You won’t find tutorials here about how to make your own garland and wreaths. I buy those babies.

 

(I did watch a tutorial and made some red ribbons, though! Boy, did I feel like Martha then!)

 

There is so much beautiful inspiration out there for gorgeous interior greens, including this Instagram account of a Boston floral designer.

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?
Watch Figge Floral decorate this banister!

 

But, I can’t employ a floral designer to decorate my house, especially not one all the way from Boston! I was seriously tempted to order some fresh garlands from this Etsy seller, but I hoped I might be able to find something local.

 

I didn’t.

 

So, since I’m not crafty, and I didn’t find some lush local garlands and greens, I went to Lowes at the last minute and picked up some wreaths and white pine garlands and added my simple hand-made bows. I was pretty satisfied with the results!

 

(Remember, this really is my first time trying to decorate for Christmas in a small-but-cohesive way, so be kind. ;).) 

 

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

I’ve long loved the look of a wreath above a stove alcove, and I finally have one!

The Stove Alcove: Timeless Elements for My Kitchen Reno

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

Ours is a “family” Christmas tree, rather than a “decorator” tree, with ornaments that are as old as the Handsome Husband and I are. It was one of our major goals in the Remuddle Remodel to finally have space for it in the heart of our home — the kitchen/converted porch. My mom made the Bucilla tree skirt with the nativity, and it’s one of my most treasured Christmas decorations. Next year, I’ll probably get some simple skirt to go underneath it to make it a little larger.

Things 1 & 2 made a train station for our Lionel train out of blocks, and I didn’t have the heart to take it down for this pic. That would be misplaced priorities indeed!

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

My mom also made the Bucilla stockings for the boys.

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

The above pine garland actually IS faux! I bought it years ago from a local shop, and it is so realistic! If I could find something similar, I might be a faux convert. Alas, the shop I bought it from is no more.

The cast iron reindeer stocking holders were one of my Christmas decoration purchases this year. Believe it or not, this is the first year we ever hung the stockings on our one and only fireplace mantel! (For a home that probably once had 6-8 working fireplaces, this is the only one left.) The middle stocking holder is empty, waiting for my niece to visit!

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

The nutcrackers were a gift to the boys from my parents a couple of Christmases ago. They finally have a place on the mantel!

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

In our dining room, I hung some Lowe’s swags from the windows on these hooks.

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

I decorated our vintage pressed glass chandelier with classic glass ornaments. The pine cone ornaments (similar here) were a gift from my sister — VERY New Hampshire!

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

Moss balls mixed with an inexpensive glass ornament set I picked up at T.J. Maxx, with white pine branches laid around my vintage celadon bowl.

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

I display our nativity (wise men not shown), which I received at my bridal shower more than 17 years ago (!!!!), on the dining room sideboard. I’ve always loved how different and colorful it is. The fabric is a piece of Fortuny fabric I purchased at the factory in Venice, when I went there with my mom for her 60th and my 35th birthdays. A treasured memory.

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

I started collecting Dept. 56’s “Christmas in the City” in junior high. Little did I know that I would end up living in NYC for 4 years way back then! However, I never had a place for it that was big enough until now. This year, I purchased a 72″ folding table and covered it with this burlap table cloth (pinned up in back) & this block print cloth in a Christmas-tree-with-a-twist theme.

 

If you want to learn about that fabulous vintage blue opaline lamp & the custom silk shade I had made for it, read this post & this post.

 

My Quandary — Real Greens or Faux in the Future?

 

So, here’s my problem. When I was all enthusiastic about being a purist and getting REAL garlands, wreaths, and swags for our interior spaces, I didn’t really consider how DRY it gets here with the heaters on.

 

Yes, I’ve been spritzing all the evergreens with water — daily, in fact! — but they are still getting brittle. I’m sure that, coming from Lowes, they weren’t terribly fresh to start with or kept moist, so that’s a problem from the start. Nor did I know about soaking the cut stems or using anti-desiccant spray to seal in moisture prior to hanging greenery indoors until recently.

 

But I wonder — even had I taken those additional steps, would my greens STILL dry out fairly quickly? I’m truly looking for some guidance here! 

 

Should I give the real greens another try next year, or cave and go faux — especially now that Christmas decorations are at rock bottom prices?

 

For example, this wreath and these swags received good reviews, and they on sale!

 

 

I’m wondering if this white pine garland might be as nice as the one I currently have over our library mantel.

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?
White Pine & Cone Garland

 

I DID recently pick up these red bead garlands to replace the cheapie shiny beads we currently have on our tree for next year. Half off!

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?
Cranberry red bead garland

 

As well as this small galvanized tree collar — also on sale now — for the tree we put up on our farmer’s porch for the first time this year. It has yet to arrive.

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?
Small galvanized tree collar

 

I love the lights and star the HH bought for our little tree, but it does look a little naked and chilly with its ugly tree stand exposed!

 

Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?

 

This image was taken before we were dumped with more than 2 FEET of snow Thursday. Buffalo check pillow covers here. I hung these paper snowflakes & garlands inside in all the kitchen windows on both sides. Could I have made them? Sure. But I told you — I’m not crafty. But I love this easy alternative!

So — what should I do???? Should I buy some faux greens while they’re on sale? Or should I try again next year, but prep with soaking the stems and spritzing with anti-desiccant spray? What is YOUR experience, please????

I’m sorry that this blog has been more like every-other-week in the last month or two. I have had the boys home at intervals as the schools go back and forth between remote learning, in person, and our waiting for negative COVID tests. Being the lovely readers you are, I’m sure you understand!

I wish you the happiest and holiest of Christmases, however you may be celebrating your holidays this year. For me, 2020 has been a year of significant, difficult, but fruitful introspection — something that may not have happened should 2020 been like every year before. I hope that I will be a better person — for my family and others around me, including you dear reader! — because of it. If so, I am deeply grateful.

I will be back in the New Year with some client project previews & updates & hopefully some very useful new content for you as you continue in your own quest to create the Forever Home of your family’s dreams.

 

Sincerest wishes,

Amy

 

Home Glow Design Shop on Chairish

 

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20 thoughts on “Help Me Decide: Should I Go Faux with My Christmas Greenery & Garlands?”

  1. Buy good faux, and do some mixing with real if you like. Even when i bought quality fresh garland, presoaked and sprayed, it simply didn’t last. Many years of experience here.

  2. I was going to suggest the same as Melissa above. I know a lot of people do that. I don’t do much indoors with greens so I can’t speak from experience. I think your home looks just lovely! Great job.

  3. My thoughts exactly. There are so many realistic greens available. Purchase some this year. Then you can insert some fresh greens to embellish the faux. Remember in the past greens were usually hung on Christmas Eve. No one expected them to last a month.

    1. Hey Debbie! You know, that’s something I hadn’t really considered, but you’re right!!!! Back when natural was your only option, no one expected these garlands to last as long as we decorate for the holidays. And I like mine to stay up until Epiphany. Thanks for the insight!

  4. Your house looks even more beautiful with your Christmas decorations. Early in our marriage I too tried real greens, but I have transitioned to real looking faux greens over the years. It’s a treasure hunt to find authentic looking faux greens. I find that local gift shops are a great place to look. I’ve found beautiful wreaths and greens at antique stores too.
    In NH here are a few places to look:
    Bittersweet Blessings Chester
    The Christmas Dove Barrington
    The Collector’s Eye Stratham
    Elfmade & Company Barrington
    Revived Derry

    It took me years to find greens I loved. It was a slow process, but so worth the hunt! Merry Christmas to you and your family. 🎄

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Carole. It does make me smile to see some nice decorations up. 🙂 Your list is a TREASURE TROVE of info! I’ve spent so many years with young kids at home, that I’ve only started having the opportunity to actually shop in stores. Now I know where to go to without having to do the investigative work. Your advice will be well taken. Merry Christmas!

  5. I don’t have any wisdom to contribute on the subject of Christmas greenery, but I just want to say that I found your blog for the first time last week – actually, while searching for reviews on window candles – and I am obsessed! This is one of the top two most helpful design blogs I know of. Your writing is so lovely and you are super generous with the knowledge you share. I also really appreciate these authentic photos of your home at Christmas, “family tree” and all! We have four children and homeschool and just finished adding a second story to our modest CT home, we live in one income, etc… life gets chaotic, but you have reminded me that beauty and quality are compatible with real family life. Thank you and Merry Christmas!

    1. Hi Kelsey, and welcome to the Saturday Blog! So glad you found us! And thank you for the kind words. I do my best to pass on what I’ve learned as a homeowner-turned-pro decorator, and I hope others will benefit from my experience. (PS–If you’re interested in learning more, we just finished up the Fall 2020 class of my Forever Home decorating course, The Home Glow Method. I’ll be launching again in the spring. You should get on the waitlist if you’re interested — insurance against expensive decorating mistakes!) It sounds like you have a LOT going on in your household! Have a warm and merry Christmas, and I hope that you will be a reader often!

  6. Hi Amy,
    Happy Holidays to you and your family. I truly enjoy reading your posts each week and they have inspired me to put white London Shades in my dining room and to reframe an oil painting to add to this room. I feel like I have a new room.
    As I cannot comment on the greenery except that I am a fan of Cobblestone Design.
    But I did love your Christmas Tree outside on your porch and your comment of the “ugly tree stand” and it reminded me of a cute idea I noticed on Half Moon Design and Antiques where she used a white painted antique trash and, inverted it and set the tree on it. So simple!

    Thank you for your inspiration and enjoy the holidays with your family,

    1. Hi Barbara, and Merry Christmas! I, too, love Cobblestone (Concord, NH). I’m always in absolute awe of their shop at this time of year. And that is a fabulous idea for a tree collar. I’ll keep my eyes open for any antique trash cans. I think I’m still handy enough to be capable of a can of spray paint.

  7. Hi Amy, so nice to see so many replies to your post! I’m hoping that more and more readers find your blog. I agree with Kelsey who says that your blog is “one of the top two most helpful design blogs.”
    Regarding greenery indoors, I’ve used faux greenery for many years for just the reason you said, that the real thing becomes very dry (and messy) after a few weeks. And yes, as Debbie mentioned, it was not meant to last more than a week. I think if you can find very good quality, realistic faux greenery, that’s the way to go.
    Many years ago, when we had just moved into our home, we used real white pine garlands. After Christmas instead of throwing them in the trash, we threw them into the fireplace. BIG MISTAKE!!!! The roar from the burning garland was like a freight train, and our neighbor came to the door asking if everything was all right, as he saw fire coming out of the chimney. We were lucky–we probably could have burned the house down. Young and stupid!
    So yes, it’s been faux for us for a long time. No one seems to mind, as we have had so many wonderful Christmas memories with family and friends, and that’s what is important.
    Merry Christmas, and a happy, HEALTHY New Year!!!

    1. OMGoodness, I nearly died with laughter reading your story. I’ll be sure not to burn the garlands in the fireplace! And thank you for your support for this blog. Yes, I need to turn my attention to “marketing” a little better. So much to do, only one woman. It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve been writing for 4.5 years! I hope more people find the Saturday Blog, too! Merry Christmas!

      1. We did the same silly thing with real pine branches one year early in our marriage and flames shot from the chimney! Fortunately no one was near enough to be burned. We are Florida novices so Team Faux all the way. Also I just found out I’m allergic to pine and the Dr said even cut pine anti-desiccant would kick off allergies combined with that they have significant mold due to how long they’ve been cut and how they’re stored. Am allergic to mold too. So I’m glad I’ve been using faux for 4 decades, finally at peace with it so I get your conundrum. Your home is so special and inviting and the perfect place to celebrate Christmas. Isn’t it wonderful when you dream of something like a wreath over the stove for year and then one day it comes true. 🙂Merry Christmas

        1. Oh my gosh, what a story!!! That’s it! I’m going faux for next year. Yes, small wishes coming true — I need to start making note of those, along with the biggies. Reasons for gratitude everywhere I look, even amidst difficulties. And gratitude for those difficulties that refine us. 🙂

  8. Lovely home. My favorite is the Holy Family piece with Joseph, May, the baby Crist and the angel. Why else would we have the season?

  9. I am on team real – partly as a traditionalist, but mostly because I try not to bring more plastic into the world if there are other good options. I get most of my greens from my yard but I buy garland from one of my local garden centers. I use a lot of the greens in bowls, but I also use them on windowsills and on my mantle as-is. I find that arborvitae and juniper last the longest with boxwood also lasting almost as well. Without water, white pine dries out more quickly and hemlock and yew are not good choices, even in water, they tend to drop their needles very quickly. I usually decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving and have not had a problem with decorations looking good until the new year. I don’t put anything in high-touch areas like banisters though.

    p.s. Love how the pine cone ornaments on the chandelier look with the dining room wallpaper!

    1. I agree with everything Holly said. Real branches smell so fresh and add fragrance to the house. Also, there is nothing to maintain, clean and put away carefully in boxes until next year. No storage needed at all!

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