Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Greens | Fresh vs Faux

It's almost Christmas! I've had every intention to share photos of the Christmas preparations and decorations in our home, but I haven't been able to muster the enthusiasm.  Much has to do with my heart being in other places since the news of last Friday.  I sat down to blog about my feelings on the shooting several times but ultimately decided to keep them private and put them into prayer and to place my energy into loving my own boys and making this Christmas special.

Our home at Christmas is my favorite place in the world.  I don't go crazy with decorations, but a little greenery here and there, lots of candles, wreaths and white lights can make everything so much cozier and festive.  I, like everyone else these days, prefer real, fresh greenery over the synthetic variety. I still remember sending Jimmy out to buy more roping and greenery for our first Christmas as newlyweds in our very first home from the Feed Barn in town.  He told me the lady at the shop said I must be "very classy" decorating with the real stuff.  I thought that was very funny at the time, likely the reason I still remember it.  Now it seems everyone is anti-faux.  Every blog, magazine, and TV program shows homes brimming with fresh boxwood, fir, cedar and pine.  And these homes appear to be decked out the day after Thanksgiving.  Leaving many of us wondering their secret.  Ok, maybe not many, but definitely me.  I've even asked before how they keep that greenery fresh till Christmas.  I haven't gotten much in the way of helpful replies {because there is no way that fresh roping on a mantle lasts for 3-4 weeks}, so I'm going to share what I have experienced and a couple of my tricks.  Let's just say I'm not all one way or the other.  I like to mix the real stuff with a little fake.

When it comes to the exterior of our home, I opt for 100% real. It's usually pretty cold here in December and they stay fresh and green throughout the month.  I've had boxwood wreaths on our windows, fresh greens and berries in our window boxes and a big fresh fir wreath on the front door for 3 weeks and they are still going strong.  Fresh roping/garland tends to dry out faster and starts to brown a bit.  I've noticed the roping on our fence has a tinge of brown in a couple spots already.   Now, inside is a whole different story.  The past two years I've added sprigs of fresh greenery all over the place, woven among the artificial stuff.  I've done it early, first week in December early, and both years it has dried up and needed removing before Christmas.  Enough of that mess.  So, this week I removed the dead stuff and added round two of fresh greenery. This time with fresh sprigs from my yard and from a pile of tree clippings I took from the Boy Scout's tree sale down the road.  Next year, I will put up the artificial garlands early in the month and just wait till the week before Christmas to weave in the fresh.  It smells so good and makes the fake stuff look all natural. Boxwood did terrible inside, so I'm skipping that next year and just sticking with fir and pine.  Here are a couple before and afters to show the difference the fresh greenery makes:

{dining room chandelier with artificial greenery}

{a few minutes later with some fresh "real" greens woven in}
{close up! so pretty.}
{cards and faux greenery around doorway into kitchen}
{after with some fresh mixed in}

I also keep greenery, in water, in several ironstone pitchers throughout the house.  I  especially like how it adds a touch of Christmas to the kitchen.  They drink a lot of water, so replace it often! I had a fresh wreath around the kitchen sconce and another over a small federal mirror in my living room but both puttered out.  Fake ones now hang {happily} in their places.

{this little fresh wreath lasted about a week and smelled amazing}

{you can see pitcher of holly and berries peeking out on the window sill}

{more real + fake}
{and lastly, another mix of real + fake over painting on mantle}

The one place though that only real will do is our Christmas tree.  And it has to be a fraiser fir.   This year it's in a basket.  I must do an entire post on this too. Lots has been learned!  It's been comical and frustrating all at once.  More Christmas pictures to come...

PS. For the record, it does help to soak fresh greens in cold water prior to using them indoors.  I've also been told there is a product sold by florists that you can spray on, as well as misting with water, that can extended the life of fresh greens inside. I'm skeptical... :)


  1. Great post. First, let me say that I am with you on the hesitancy to write my thoughts on the horrible events of last week. It has been especially hard this week being an elementary school teacher. I will just leave it at that.
    Second.. the greens. I used to use only fresh outside but the heat here made it impossible - even in Dec. So I found a very natural looking simulated fraiser fir garland at Hobby Lobby that has worked out well. Inside, I have found no great solution. The "florist's spray" I tried was like a spray on wax that just held the needles in place like glue - not something I liked. So I replace things 2 weeks into the season. I just replaced 3 wreaths this week with new ones that were half price at Lowes. It does seem that the Juniper holds up much better than the fraiser fir for wreaths - but I am not a big fan of the scent. I have always wanted to try boxwood wreaths in the kitchen but haven't yet. We did leave our main tree outside in a bucket of water for over a week, and it has held up better than any we have had in 25 years.
    The photos of your house look pretty. I would love to see your tree in a basket!

  2. Unfortunately anything we do during the holidays has to be faux. We always got a real tree every year until my daughter was born. The last one we had was her first Christmas and that was one miserable baby. My husband had it undecorated and at the street by 6am on the 26th!

  3. Don't give up on boxwood just yet--it's so pretty and there's nothing else that really gives that "look". I use the small plastic tubes that have a small cap that florists use. You simply fill the vial with water and add the boxwood. This keeps the boxwood fresher longer, and then if you need to replace greenery that has dried, it's quite easy. Mostly I use this on my mantle and it works wonders.

    Also, the spray for evergreens works well outside to keep plants from drying out in windy areas during the winter months. I don't see why it wouldn't help somewhat on cut greens--worth a try.

    Your home looks lovely and cozy--not overdone--beautiful.

  4. Gorgeous! Your home looks so natural and festive, Tessa. Just lovely. I look forward to your post on the basket idea for your Christmas tree. I showed my husband a magazine photo of a tree in a basket and we had quite the debate over it. He was skeptical that it would work, or at least it wouldn't be easy to accomplish. I'll eagerly await your insight - and will share it with my hubby.
    Merry Christmas to you and your family,

  5. Tessa it looks great !!! Everything looks great ! Merry christmas

  6. Thanks so much for this post. I'm one that would like to switch from faux to real but always wondered how? what? when? This post answered these for me. Merry Christmas!

  7. Beautiful! This is so random, but can you tell me where you purchased the goblets on your shelf in the kitchen...they look to have a little bead detail. So cute!

  8. I'm admiring the greens on your railing -- are they faux or a mixture of faux & fresh? Also, where do you buy your faux greens? I've had a hard time finding nice looking faux greens -- it seems like the ones that I see on blogs & in magazines are much nicer than the ones that I've seen in the stores.

    1. Hi Kim! The greens on the stair rail are completely artificial. I had them made for our first home and they are very old but still holding up well. They came from a local shop called Botanica. I'm not even sure they are still in business, but they specialized in higher end artificial and dried flower arrangements and displays. They did a lot of custom work for Christmas too. I'd ask a local florist if they have anyone they recommend. The stuff at craft stores doesn't always cut it, I agree! :) Have a great Christmas!! xo

  9. I think in order to use boxwood inside you have to get preserved boxwood...Just a is so cold where I am the outside greens are good till after valentines day...sometimes longer if we have a cold winter Cheers Frances

  10. Thank you so much for sharing your home. It's beautiful as always. Wish I lived close enough to stop in for coffee. It looks so snug and ready to celebrate the season. Enjoy your holiday with your boys. Merry Christmas!

    1. thanks shelley! very merry christmas to you too! xo

  11. i agree your home is a wonderful place at christmas. love all your details! and loved the little sneak of my kiddos in your greenery :) i still have 100% fake on my mantle, and it is strung with white lights. each year i think ill do real and i keep going back to what we love. but the tree, 100% REAL :)

  12. I can't wait to hear about the basket! I saw your pics on Instagram.....


    Here's the stuff I was talking about on Instagram. **Note: It's going to take away that natural smell from your greenery. Also, spray this outside and let your greenery dry before you take it inside**

  14. Fresh greens will dry faster indoors than outdoors, but there are steps you can take to preserve the fragrance and the longevity. A lot of it has to do with the type of greenery you are purchasing. I'm happy to help anyone on here that wants to try live decorations and has questions!

    Shannon Kuhrt
    M&M Wintergreens Inc.

  15. It's beautiful! I hung a garland for cards this year as well. Your home is always lovely and always inspiring!