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Dressing Your Home for the Holidays

With Time and Money Saving Tips from Heather Grosvenor and Elizabeth Martin

Article by Jeannie Tabor

Photography by Sarah Bell, Sélavie Photography

Originally published in River City Lifestyle

Dressing your home for the holidays is a wonderful opportunity to showcase unique, personal style combined with traditions handed down through the years. There are many ways to tackle the holiday décor project. Many will call upon one of our esteemed local floral shops and hire them to deck the halls, sparing no expense. Others will pour through magazines and Pinterest looking for new trends and DIY ideas. Some will painstakingly recreate the holiday scenes straight out of their childhood homes.

Here, Heather Grosvenor and Elizabeth Martin, floral designers and friends who met through the Junior League Garden Club, offer their tips for creating affordable, naturally beautiful holiday decorations using items found in your yard, home and local grocery and craft stores.

Step One: Go Green 

Begin with a base of greenery, including wreaths and garland, that can be either live or artificial. Today, there are many good artificial options that can be made to look real and last for several seasons. A eucalyptus wreath purchased from Hobby Lobby lasts several years and can be very versatile – hang it on your door or add a hurricane candle in the middle to make a table decoration. Purchase a thin version of artificial garland from Michael's to allow lots of room to add your own flowers and accessories. Use the extra trimmings from your Christmas tree to add to the artificial greenery for an extra-fluffy, layered final product. Finally, take the fresh evergreen boughs and twist the faux around them until it holds.

Step Two: Love Organic

Add in locally sourced organic items, including magnolia leaves, twigs, hydrangeas, cedar, nandina and berries. Harvest the hydrangeas before they have turned brown so that they will retain their color. Also, keep your eyes peeled for special items on your travels, such as the extra-large and beautiful pine cones that Heather brought home from a recent trip to Florida.

Step Three: Add Your Fruits and Veggies

Consider using brightly colored fruits and vegetables in your arrangements like apples, oranges, artichokes, pomegranates, cranberries and cloves. To create dried oranges, slice them and bake at 200 degrees for five hours on a cookie sheet, flipping over once or twice during the process. Decorate whole oranges with cloves placed in a pattern like a cross or someone’s initials, Both citrus options add interest and they will have your home smelling great!

Step Four: Accessorize and Have Fun

Spray paint your twigs, blooms, pine cones, berries and any fun accessories you want to add to your greenery. This is especially useful if you are late in collecting your flowers that may have begun to turn brown. Spray painting will preserve your blooms and keep them from curling, drooping or falling off. Plus, it will add an unexpected pop of color that may not be found naturally in your yard. 

Elizabeth and Heather have years of floral design experience between them, including making all arrangements for the TV show Young Rock, a series documenting the life of Dwayne Johnson filmed exclusively in Memphis. The sets they worked their magic on included the Woodruff-Fontaine House, the Peabody Ballroom, a recreation of Dwayne Johnson’s wedding at the Cadre Building and a set completely decorated for Christmas.

Heather says, “My love of entertaining, tablescapes and floral design came from my mother, Hetta Heath, and growing up in Houston, Texas.” After owning and running a successful floral business in Aspen, Colorado, Heather transplanted to Memphis after marrying Henry. “I care about Memphis and have been involved since Day 1. A few weeks after moving here that November, I noticed there were no holiday lights. We called the Center City Commission and they asked if I wanted to lead the effort with their full backing. Within a few days we had a big chunk of downtown Memphis full of twinkly lights. Coming from a big city where such decisions would take months and multiple levels of red tape, it was amazing to be in a city that welcomed my ideas!”

Elizabeth, a native Memphian, grew up in a family where everyone had at least a few hobbies. “My father was an architect and made furniture. My mother sewed, gardened and made floral designs using beautiful flowers she grew at home. My wonderful brother, Brussel, has an incredible bonsai nursery.” Elizabeth is a trained speech pathologist, teaches Sunday school, makes floral arrangements for the home bound at church and occasionally for church services.

Elizabeth and Heather share a deep love of Memphis and incredible floral design expertise offering ways to make decorating your home easy, affordable and, of course, beautiful. Repurposing items and making do with what you have is a fun part of the process. 

“Use items from your yard and never be afraid to ask neighbors to harvest their bounty as well. We love to take things that others would throw away and repurpose them with a bit of love and paint!”

-Elizabeth Martin

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