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September 27, 2020 September 27, 2020

Creating new family Christmas traditions

Posted on December 1, 2015 by 40 Mile Commentator
Joyce Swaren of Blondies Gift and Garden in Dunmore

By Tim Kalinowski
With the Christmas season upon us now is the time to start thinking about adding those special touches which will brighten your home through the holidays. People spend hundreds, perhaps sometimes even thousands, of dollars on purchasing artificial lights, ornaments and trees. Combine that with presents, and the price tag associated with entertaining, and it can be a costly and none-too-merry Christmas for many. One way you can take the cost burden off yourself a little is by making your own Christmas decorations.
Gillian Slade, a local hobby florist and decorating enthusiast, says making your own decorations can save you money and create a wonderful family tradition at the same time.
“I often think what makes Christmas really special is tradition,” says Slade. “Half the fun is remembering how you did Christmas ten years ago or twenty years ago; or what you are going to teach your children. It’s taking the time to go look for the ingredients: The twigs, the pine cones and the greenery. If we go out and just buy something and plunk it on the table, we have lost so much then as a family by doing that.”
Slade says by using elements found in nature, and other items from your local produce or dollar store, you can make a beautiful Christmas centrepiece for any room for under $20.
“Here is one of the easiest ways to create a seasonal flower arrangement,” explains Slade. “Take an acorn squash and cut off one nodule at the end to make it sit flat. Cut the lid off so you can use the top as a bit of a showstopper. It can then become a vase or your candle holder. Add a few pomegranates. Take some gold spray paint and give it a touch of gold sheen. Gold really adds that festive touch. Take some candles, some gold-wire ribbon around the base and place a few twigs or acorns for texture. Throw in some natural looking dollar store flowers and some fresh greens. Arrange the pieces nicely and there you have a beautiful centre piece. The fruit will last you at least ten days and is not very expensive so it’s quite easy to change if you have to.”
Slade remembers her mother saying that her house cleaning was not complete until she put a fresh arrangement of flowers in every room. It’s a message Slade hopes many this season will take to heart.
“You have complete control over it and you can do exactly what you like. You can also involve the whole family in putting it together, and if you’ve got children they can each add their little things to it. This way you have a truly family-created piece,” says Slade.
For those craving a more lush experience to get them through the winter blahs, Joyce Swaren, owner of Blondie’s Gift and Garden Centre in Dunmore, says there is nothing like growing flowers and fresh greens to do just that.
“As soon as things begin to look sad outside in late September people don’t have anything green,” says Swaren “They need to come in to the greenhouse and get something to look after to help them get through the winter months. People just like to see something grow. Any plant will liven up a household. People just love to see something green and growing when its all cold and hum-drum outside.”
For those looking for a more seasonal touch Blondie’s has Poinsettia bowls for inside the home and porch pots sporting some hardy perennials for exterior decor.
“With our Poinsettia bowls we use like a Boston Fern, Diamond Frost and a Joseph’s Coat, which are all houseplants which can live inside all year round. And then we just add the Poinsettia for the Christmas theme. We also will add a little Norfolk Pine or Lemon Cypress. So with these bowls it’s all about Christmas and the winter.”
When Christmas is over the beauty of the bowls is you can remove the Poinsettias and still have something green or growing to get you through the winter. For the outside Swaren says many are keenly interested in reusing their summer plant pots and adding winter elements instead.
“We also help make the porch pots with the fresh greens like the cedar, the pine and the fir. People usually have porch pots outside on their steps for the summer; so why not take all that summer stuff out put in your winter stuff? Then you put sticks and berries and ornaments in it to make a really festive display.”
Swaren says those coming into her greenhouse at this time of year are only limited by their imaginations. Everything else can be tailored to work within peoples’ budgets and preferences.
“We have real Christmas trees, decoration packages, ornaments, herbs and greens. There are so many options for people wanting to make Christmas special for their families and to spruce up their homes this holiday season.”

Flower arranger Gillian Slade

Flower arranger Gillian Slade

Joyce Swaren of Blondies Gift and Garden in Dunmore

Joyce Swaren of Blondies Gift and Garden in Dunmore

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