The Nature of Giving

Even as fall turns to early winter, the garden is still hard at work giving us loads of foliage, seed heads, berries, and even a few flowers for seasonal decorations. We grabbed a basket (this is even more fun with a friend!), a set of clippers, and headed for the yard snipping bits of this and this until the basket was filled to overflow.

Look at what it all added up to! So gorgeously colorful and full of textures. Wouldn’t this just be such a wonderful gift to bring to host on Thanksgiving Day? And, also to fill a vase of your own? Below find a grid with all of the plants we used and how they looked in a vintage vase we scored at the thrift.

Then in a few weeks when you’re gearing up for holiday gift giving, look no further than the garden…again! We transformed greenery and branches into super simple gift wrapping decorations. See below for six rather glamorous ideas–most of which can be done in 30 minutes or less. (A few more easy projects found here.)

We’d love to know how you use the best of what the garden has to offer this time of year for seasonal decoration. Please share in comments below.




Grab some basic craft store supplies (glue gun, burlap, craft paper, ribbons, waxed paper, etc.) and whatever looks good in the garden to create natural gift package decorations. Detailed instructions and links to key supplies are below.


Look no further than the patio or local garden center for pretty conifers or other evergreen potted plants you can give as gifts with a bit of festive wrapping. These topiary are one-gallon spiral Dwarf Alberta Spruce (zones 2 – 8; find at garden centers or, depending on your zone, online at

We wrapped the nursery container in burlap and tied with a copper-hued satin ribbon. Of course we added a string of battery-powered mini lights! These can be kept inside for a day or two, then they need to go outside where they’ll be happiest.


Scallywag™ Holly’s (male variety, zones 5 – 9) foliage changes to purplish tones when cold sets in. To make a wreath use black 14 gauge craft wire and make a circle (ours is wrapped twice around a spray paint can) then twist ends.

Clip holly shrub branch tips and hot glue pieces onto the wire form until you have lush wreath. Use immediately or store In a cool location (porch, garage, fridge).

Tie onto package by looping a length of ribbon around top and bottom of the wreath, pull both sides to the back and knot.


We had Thanksgiving hostess gifts in mind with a package wrapped in black craft paper decorated with a cascade of colorful autumn leaves (these are Pin Oak, zones 4 – 8) preserved in wax and tucked into twine. It’s an easy project.

Press still-pliable leaves (not crispy dry) between two sheet of waxed paper with a hot iron over a towel or piece of newspaper. It takes a few minutes to melt the wax.

Let cool, peel away paper, and use a dab of hot glue to place. Leaves will retain color for several days.


Capture the magical simplicity of bare branches in snow with this very easy, last minute wrapping idea. We used twisty Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick (zones 3 – 9) but any showy branches or even stems of dried garden plants will do! Lightly coat bare branches with shimmer frost spray (find here) and allow to dry.

Wrap package in a double layer of snowy-white gauze and create a ribbon with another length of gauze. Secure branches by tying tightly in a knot of gauze ribbon.


Do a few hydrangea blooms still linger? There are lots of ways to preserve them–we used silica gel which can be found at craft stores. Pour a few inches of silica gel into a plastic container. Hold cut stem so flowers are pointing down making sure no petals are touching sides of container. Gently pour in more silica until flowers are covered. Add a lid and leave for a few days; remove when petals become papery.

We tied this dried cluster of Seaside Serenade® Newport Hydrangea to glittery jute ribbon and added a strand of 24 gauge copper wire for shimmer.


Succulent Surprise

A cluster of berries is nice, but let’s try something different to top a nest of fresh cut greens. We snipped a few stems of Bronze Carpet Stonecrop which turns brilliant red in winter and fixed to greens with a dab of hot glue. They lasted for days!


Remember when…

Mine your image folders for garden photos that spark joy and print onto photo paper (we used matte paper which paired best with our craft paper). Secure with twine and add a sprig of something plucked fresh like this pine snippet. Wait for the smile.

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