Decorating with holly is a long-standing tradition during the winter holidays. The red berries of the holly bush are symbolic in many cultures, inspiring hope, faith and love during the depths of the darkest and coldest months. A versatile plant that can be used on its own or mixed with other greenery, holly is an inexpensive item to spruce up your holiday decor.
Wreaths and Hangings
A wreath of holly boughs makes a contrast to the traditional evergreen variety. To add rustic details, hang wreaths by wide burlap ribbons affixed to:
- Sturdy stocking hangers
- Hanging pot racks
- Rough or weathered branches laid across brackets
You can also display holly on a door or wall inside:
- Wicker trapper's baskets placed flush against your door
- Vintage stockings
- Burlap sacks cinched in at the necks with raffia or velvet ribbons
To keep the holly looking fresh, hide a small vase or cut-off plastic jug within your choice of display container.
Alternatively, display your holly by making kissing balls, an alternative to traditional sprigs of mistletoe. Balls can be purchased or made at home. As a center for a successful homemade kissing ball, use a spherical potato, which retain moisture and provides an ideal texture in which to anchor the boughs of holly.
Garlands and Bouquets
Garlands of holly and evergreen boughs are a welcome touch at the holidays, and they require a minimum of effort. To achieve this look:
- Weave intertwined boughs through chair backs, wine racks and banisters
- Display boughs on bookcase shelves, mantels and even toilet tank tops
- Place bunches of holly within the boughs of a Christmas tree
Bouquets of holly perk up a neglected corner table, or use them as a centerpiece. Display the red-berried boughs in alternatives to vases, such as:
- Galvanized pails
- Fancy ice buckets
- Antique soup tureens
- Picnic baskets trimmed with festive ribbon
And a unique and informal way to welcome visitors to your porch is to place boots by the back door stuffed with a couple of unexpected bursts of holly.
To keep holly bright, hide moistened foam floral blocks in your old galoshes.
Smaller scale holly decorations can turn up in any spot you desire. Stick sprigs of holly in napkin rings, twining it first around a cinnamon stick. Affix to bedposts and lamp finials, doorknobs and cabinet pulls.
Holly berries are poisonous and should not be displayed within reach of pets or children. And any greenery, including holly, should not be displayed near a heat source or open flame.
Cynthia A. Mulcahy has been published in Portsmouth, New Hampshire's "Accent Home & Garden Magazine", a home decor publication. She also provided copy for the magazine's website and copy edited a 2009 issue. Mulcahy holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology and a minor in justice studies from the University of New Hampshire.