11 Cheap and Easy Floral Design Ideas for the Holidays

Dutch floral designer Pieter Landman offers tips for holiday floral arrangements using unexpected materials.

An internationally renowned trend-spotter and -maker who consults for Giorgio Armani, Ball Horticultural and Farm Star Living among others, the jet-setting Dutch floral designer Pieter Landman has created floral designs for Wimbleton and for the Sultan of Oman. He recently sat down with Made+Remade to offer up some tips for holiday decorating—on the cheap—with flowers and plants and some quirky tricks of the trade.

Railroad Figures

Railroad Figures

Railroad model figures make adorable accents to a floral design.

Railroad model figures make adorable accents to a floral design.

Gregarious, imaginative and determined to demystify floral design, Landman soon had me under his spell as he employed unexpected tools from a bundt pan, to rubber bands to fat rolls of yard and knitting needles, all in the service of inventive, DIY floral arrangements. Steeped in a more European approach to floral design, Landman is an advocate of informal, looser floral arrangements and letting the natural, wild beauty of flowers shine through. So if your bouquet starts to fall apart over the course of its life on your buffet, he says, don’t stress. “Let the petals fall. It’s drama. It’s part of life.”

Pieter Landman

Pieter Landman

Floral designer and trend expert Pieter Landman.

Floral designer and trend expert Pieter Landman.

“My mission is to make it easy, accessible and enjoyable,” says Landman, who divides his time between homes in Holland and Ecuador when he’s not preaching the gospel of flowers in cities around the world. 

The most valuable takeaway from my meeting with Landman: creative design doesn’t have to cost a lot of money and can be easily found in items already laying around your house. Simplicity, ease and having fun with design are Landman’s mantra, “if you want to make floral arrangements, don’t think” advised Landman. “Everyone is creative, but someone ruined us” he laughs, stifling our natural creative impulses at some point in our lives.

So don't be a shrinking violet, go for it!

Grab Some Rope (or Grapevines)

Rope Accent on Flower Arrangement

Rope Accent on Flower Arrangement

The simple addition of a rope bow brings a unique look to this floral design.

The simple addition of a rope bow brings a unique look to this floral design.

Rope

Rope

Organic materials are all the rage in floral design.

Organic materials are all the rage in floral design.

Organic materials are all the rage in floral design says Landman, so find ways to incorporate elements like natural rope, undyed wool and feathers into your arrangements. 

Feathers

Feathers

Feathers are an on-trend element in floral design.

Feathers are an on-trend element in floral design.

Add Grapevine Wreaths

Add Grapevine Wreaths

Add grapevine wreaths to a flower arrangement for a rustic touch.

Add grapevine wreaths to a flower arrangement for a rustic touch.

Yarn and Needles

Yarn and Needles

Incorporate unexpected items like a chunky, red ball of yarn into your floral design.

Incorporate unexpected items like a chunky, red ball of yarn into your floral design.

Go Vintage

Santa Arrangement

Santa Arrangement

Incorporate vintage items of your own, or sourced from thrift stores into your holiday floral displays.

Incorporate vintage items of your own, or sourced from thrift stores into your holiday floral displays.

Great vintage items bring whimsy and uniqueness to your holiday floral design. Whether found at thrift stores or in your own collection, incorporate everything from retro Santa figures to model railroad model characters into your arrangements.

Use Edibles

Edibles in Flower Arrangement

Edibles in Flower Arrangement

Incorporate edibles into your flower arrangements.

Incorporate edibles into your flower arrangements.

They’re cheap, they’re abundant. They add color and fun to your designs.

Brussels Sprout in Flower Arrangement

Brussels Sprout in Flower Arrangement

Pierce a Brussels sprout with a toothpick or wooden skewer and add it to a flower arrangement for interest.

Pierce a Brussels sprout with a toothpick or wooden skewer and add it to a flower arrangement for interest.

Shop the Grocery Store

Floral Arrangement

Floral Arrangement

Edibles, glass beads and ornaments in a glass cylinder make a simple, inexpensive arrangement.

Edibles, glass beads and ornaments in a glass cylinder make a simple, inexpensive arrangement.

Don’t go for the standard bouquet. Pick a few interest blooms or plants and use them sparingly, mixed in with glass beads, ornaments, edibles and other items to fill out your floral arrangement.

Shop Your Pantry

Flower Arrangement in Cupcake Papers

Flower Arrangement in Cupcake Papers

Use cupcake papers to display plants and cranberries.

Use cupcake papers to display plants and cranberries.

You may already have plenty of items to create a floral display. Cupcake papers, bags of cranberries, nuts, fruit can all be incorporated into your holiday floral display.

Shop Your Garden 

Holiday Mini Wreath

Holiday Mini Wreath

Make a mini holiday wreath with leaves and cranberries strung on wire.

Make a mini holiday wreath with leaves and cranberries strung on wire.

Use sturdy leaves folded and strung on wire and interspersed with cranberries or orange peel to create mini wreaths. These make great elements to place on guests’ plates at a dinner party. 

Pro tip: make sure anything that comes into contact with dinnerware is safe. Plant elements like Thai orchids are loaded with chemicals, says Landman. So make sure you are using organic elements or things from your garden free from pesticides for use at place settings.

Pare Back

Flowers in Milk Bottles

Flowers in Milk Bottles

A single flower stem in a milk bottle becomes a beautiful table scape when displayed with bright green beans and cranberries in a row.

A single flower stem in a milk bottle becomes a beautiful table scape when displayed with bright green beans and cranberries in a row.

A single floral stem when displayed in an imaginative way might be all you need to create a beautiful floral display. Displayed in milk bottles with green beans and cranberries for color, these milk bottle arrangements can be used individually at guests’ place settings, or grouped together for a memorable centerpiece. Landman says that overdone, pyramidal, fussy arrangements are over and loose, natural arrangements are more on-trend. 

Pro tip: a good, strong pair of rose clippers from a big box store are indispensable. Cut floral wire close to the junction of the blades and flower stems on a diagonal. A simple dedicated knife used just for flowers is also a great tool for cutting stems.

Plants Versus Flowers

Green Ball Plants

Green Ball Plants

Green balls are Dr. Seuss fun and work wonderfully in holiday arrangements.

Green balls are Dr. Seuss fun and work wonderfully in holiday arrangements.

You don’t always have to make flowers the center of your arrangement. Plants can also serve you well, especially when they have a striking color or form. And they are often cheaper.

Holiday Flowers

Holiday Flowers

An array of expected and unexpected flowers and plants, many available at supermarkets can be great in holiday floral displays.

An array of expected and unexpected flowers and plants, many available at supermarkets can be great in holiday floral displays.

Expand Your Concept of Containers

Bundt Pan Flower Arrangement

Bundt Pan Flower Arrangement

This white bundt pan is a great vessel for a flower arrangement.

This white bundt pan is a great vessel for a flower arrangement.

Wine glasses, bundt pans, Mason jars, milk bottles, an old Nutella jar, a teapot are all great containers says Landman. You don’t have to buy dedicated vases. Any waterproof container will do.

Teapot Flower Design

Teapot Flower Design

Ordinary household objects can become vessels for flowers as with this teapot.

Ordinary household objects can become vessels for flowers as with this teapot.

Wine Glass Flower Arrangement

Wine Glass Flower Arrangement

An arrangement of a few inexpensive flower stems combined with cranberries makes a lovely display in a wine glass.

An arrangement of a few inexpensive flower stems combined with cranberries makes a lovely display in a wine glass.

Decorate Your Containers

Rubber bands, scarves, patterned socks, pantyhose in interesting designs with the toe cut off  and slipped over a glass cylinder vase can transform an ordinary vessel into a holiday show stopper.

Glitter!

Hydrangea With Glitter

Hydrangea With Glitter

The simple act of adding glitter to plants and flowers adds glamour to your holiday arrangements.

The simple act of adding glitter to plants and flowers adds glamour to your holiday arrangements.

On potatoes. On hydrangeas. A simple way to add glamour to flowers, plants, edibles. Spray mount combined with glitter should be your new best friend.

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