The Perfect Holiday Urn, A do-it-yourself design guide from local florists.

Every year, it seems the collection of holiday décor continues to grow: a pair of silver reindeer to sit on the hearth of the fireplace one year, a sparkly holiday wreath to hang above the mantle the next. And of course, you can never have too many Santa Claus statues (or so I’ve heard).

But there’s nothing like a DIY project to get you in the holiday spirit. A homemade urn makes the perfect holiday statement (without adding to the crowded storage closet for the rest of the year). We reached out to some local florists  to share their best tips for assembling a flawless holiday urn at home.

STEP ONE:  Secure your urn
When choosing the container itself, select something that pairs nicely with the front entrance of your home. For example, if your front porch is decorated with grand pillars, you may want to select something with some added height. You can pick up a winter urn at your local garden centre, flower shop, or Home Hardware.

When assembling at your home, “make sure the urns are secure and weighed down so they don’t fall over,” says Tina Leishman, owner at Blooming Wellies in Newmarket. She suggests adding an oasis to the mouth of the urn, which is a sponge-like base designed to support your greenery (rather than simply shoving stems into dirt).


STEP TWO:  Determine size and colour
The shape and colour of your arrangement will depend on personal preference. When determining the size, look at the space you have and the container you are using, advises Tina Orlowski, perennial manager  at New Roots Garden Centre. “If you have a tall urn, you want to go tall with your arrangement. For short, round urns, you can layer multiple urns up the steps,” she says.

When it comes to colour, think about what compliments the brick and front doors of your home, suggests Rose Pellegrino, owner of Blossom Boutique. “Look at what colours are trending – a lot of the blues, greens and greys are in right now,” she says.


STEP THREE: Choose your greens
“You’ll want a variety of greens – the more texture the better,” says Leishman. At Blooming Wellies, they prefer to work with Ontario pine and “soft and flowy” B.C. cedar. Magnolia adds a nice touch of colour, with leaves that are a velvety brown on one side and green on the other. Boxwood is another good choice. “Those are the heartier greens,” Leishman explains, noting that if you’re designing your urn in November, you’re going to face a range of temperature fluctuations. “When the greens thaw, they tend to go limp or brown,” says Leishman. “That’s why it’s important to have a hearty green that retains its crisp colour and can withstand our winters.”

Orlowski recommends ensuring that each branch has a fresh cut. This “keeps the moisture in the branches, so they don’t dry out.” She also suggests regularly watering your greens until the temperature drops enough for the urn to freeze. “Then everything should stay green through until March,” she says.


STEP FOUR: Add natural accessories
“The natural elements are always in,” says Pellegrino of Blossom Boutique. “Berries are beautiful, as well as different types of wood like grapevine and Manzanita branches.” She likes to add in fresh fruit as well, like green apples or pomegranates.

Orlowski at New Roots says she likes to collect her materials from her backyard, like sumac, which brings a pop of red, as well as dogwood, pinecones, and birch poles.

STEP FIVE: Complete with ornaments and/or lights
Finally, here’s your chance to add in those big red bows and twinkling lights, or maybe some artificial branches with an added sparkle, and a pair of bright blue bulbs. “Just be careful not to get glass, because glass will crack outside,” explains Pellegrino. “You don’t want the colour to bleed off, so ask if [the ornaments] are appropriate for outdoors. You can lose the colour halfway through the season.”

Whatever you choose, don’t be afraid to experiment. After all, nothing is permanent; you can always remove a few branches and start again. And as Orlowski says, “you can have a lot of fun!”

by Charlotte Ottaway


Local Links

Blooming Wellies Flower Boutique

Blossom Boutique

New Roots Garden Centre

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