Need a Gorgeous Christmas Centerpiece ASAP? Look No Further...


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Festive in a flash! ©betsygibsondesign

Festive in a flash! ©betsygibsondesign


Necessity is the Mother of Invention

The other night, I got a call from a friend who was in town for the weekend. She had been locked out of her sister’s apartment and was wondering if she could come and roost with us until her sister arrived home from work. Of course I told her to come on over! But then, I thought....oh, no. Nothing for dinner. The house is a wreck. And I haven’t even gotten around to my own Christmas decorating yet. Fabulous!! I'll certainly look like the hostess with the mostest...

I sent my husband to the grocery store, and I focused on the house and the table. My flowers from the prior week were just about finished at 10 days out, so I couldn't use those. And I really wanted a festive centerpiece. Any centerpiece, really.

Aside from 50 or so bundles of greens, I had nothing but several Amaryllis bulbs that I had forced along fairly well, if one could say that I had actually forced them. Instead, I'd neglected them. I'd been so busy designing for a client in California that I hadn't had a chance to place them in their own individual silver cachepots, as I did every year. Instead, they were loose, and I had propped them up in a single planter, on top of some leftover top soil that had been home to some other plant prior to the Amaryllis' arrival. (I know! Topsoil at the ready? I got lucky with a pre-prepped place for my bulbs to live.) Despite the benign neglect, which lasted from the beginning of November until the very day that I received the phone call, the flowers were all newly blooming when I realized that they were my answer to festive in a flash. So I devised a little “hack” of which I am quite proud. So proud, in fact, that I’m going to share it with you. I had a gorgeous  centerpiece in under ten minutes. And it will look great through Christmas, I'm sure. Especially because I have now created a "proper" seasonal home for it in exactly the way that one would expect---with some topsoil, rocks, moss and surrounding greens--and because it is just beginning to think about its second round of blooms. However, I prefer to focus on my 10 minute "throw it all together" solution to my 5:30PM centerpiece challenge, which is why I'm spilling so much ink in bringing you the "How To". You may be appalled by my hack, but you may also find yourself using it in a pinch. Or maybe using some other unorthodox or otherwise cringeworthy method to create beauty when you find yourself under the gun with a lack of time and a lack of materials. Anyone can tell you how to force or display an Amaryllis. Not many people can (or will) tell you how to do it with materials you happen to have right in front of you.

Finished piece! ©betsygibsondesign

Finished piece! ©betsygibsondesign


Here’s the Hack…

In under 10 minutes, I created a double Amaryllis arrangement inside of an oblong blue and white Chinoiserie planter. The Amaryllises were surrounded by a beautiful variety of greens and topped off with a cluster of Lady Apples. Here's how I created what is now known (to me) as my "10 minute masterpiece"...


I chose the blue and white planter because it was on the shelf, and I happened to see it. Perfect. Because the planter was deep, and because I was in such a hurry, I wasn't about to try to mess with any topsoil or river rocks or anything heavy or potentially problematic. No, not me. Instead, I eyed the bubble wrap that my California designs were to be packed in, and it became the basis for a beautiful piece. I lined the planter with plenty of bubble wrap--enough to allow the two bulbs (each with double stalks) to sit high enough in the planter with an inch and a half or so of each bulb still able to rise above the top of the planter.

Amaryllis bulbs on pre-layered bubble wrap with a quick peek at how the filler might look.©betsygibsondesign

Amaryllis bulbs on pre-layered bubble wrap with a quick peek at how the filler might look.©betsygibsondesign


I then wrapped the bulbs themselves in bubble wrap before taping them (yes! with my packing tape!) to the prepared bubble wrap base. I couldn't believe it. I had two huge flowering Amaryllises holding court in my pretty blue and white planter with nothing but bubble wrap to support them. And packing tape, of course. 


Next came the filler. I had so many different gorgeous greens that I forgot about how this was supposed to be a stressful, last minute "can I pull something pretty off with the measly things I've got around the house" design. I started having so much fun with it!! I filled the container with water---only about 6 inches, so as not to upset the bubble wrap--and started placing my greens. In under 5 minutes, I had a divine looking (and heavenly scented) Cedar, Pine, Carolina Sapphire and Privet Berry surround for my bubble wrapped Amaryllis. All I needed was one more element. The Lady Apples I'd bought earlier in the day (which were purchased to be used outside in my window boxes). They would be the pièce de résistance of my arrangement! And they were. They tied the greens and reds together so naturally and so beautifully. And would you believe that I didn't even have to stake the Amaryllis? That was a total bonus.

Greens and Lady Apples. ©betsygibsondesign

Greens and Lady Apples. ©betsygibsondesign

Out of Curiosity…or Laziness?


Out of curiosity, I decided to leave my creation for a few days beyond the initial one day time frame that I had envisioned. It wasn't until tonight that I felt the need to take it apart and give it a proper environment. And that's not because the Amaryllis were suffering. It's because the greens were drying out! It just goes to show you that you can create something from very little--*and* that plants and flowering bulbs might not be as delicate as we think they are. Or as I tend to think they are!!


Do you have any interesting little shortcuts you've had to take in an emergency situation? How did they work out? Let me know in the comment section. It's always fun to learn about creative problem solving!!