In the Garden:
Upper South
December, 2012
Regional Report

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Have a party where everyone goes home with a Christmas decoration from the garden.

Sharing with a Make-Your-Own Decorations Party

Parties abound during the holiday season, but how often do you get to come home from one with a hand-made present? If you can imagine how much you would enjoy that, then turn the tables and offer that possibility for your friends, while also sharing your garden.. Provide some trimmings of fresh evergreens, berries, and pine cones from the garden as well as a few craft supplies, then let your guests make their own wreath, door swag, or table arrangement to take home.

Christmas Garden Party Basics
First of all, assess what you have available from your garden. The longest-lasting needled evergreens, both indoors and out, include white, Scotch, red, and Austrian pines, as well as balsam fir, Douglas fir, yew, red cedar, true cedar, juniper, and false cypress. Broad-leaved evergreens to consider include English ivy, the many hollies, mountain laurel, boxwood, magnolia, nandina, azaleas, and rhododendrons.

Next, take a look around your yard for berries, cones, and other plant material that could make interesting additions. Don't overlook items that are seldom thought of in connection with Christmas, like okra pods, ornamental grass plumes, and dried hydrangea flowers. If you feel like you don't have enough to offer, why not enlist the help of friends who will let you go to their gardens and do a little pruning?

Now, decide which craft projects you'll offer. Swags are the easiest for everyone to make, with branches simply gathered together, tied with floral wire, and embellished with a bow. For wreaths, the simplest method is using the type of wreath form with wires that clamp onto overlapping bundles of greens. Besides the branches, berries, and other materials for the garden, you'll need to have florist wire and at least several pairs of pruning shears, plus an assortment of bows available. Offer containers, such as inexpensive baskets with plastic liners, and blocks of floral foam for fresh arrangements and

Add to the Spirit of Sharing
To expand the spirit of Christmas, encourage your friends to also make and share some decorations with shut-ins or others who might appreciate them. Another element that adds to any holiday party is to have guests bring canned goods, children's books, or toys for local charities.

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