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.
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.”
“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)
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.
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.
They’re cheap, they’re abundant. They add color and fun to your designs.
Shop the Grocery Store
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
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
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.
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
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.
Expand Your Concept of Containers
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.
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.
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.