While holiday trees get all the attention this time of year, don’t forget boughs, swags, and centerpieces when decorating your home. Boughs of evergreens can make an attractive centerpiece on the dining room table, mantle swags can brighten a living room, and beautiful evergreen displays in guest bedrooms can fill the air with a fresh scent. You can also use evergreens to accent a vase of cut flowers, decorate an outdoor window box, or create a welcome accent for your front door. You can certainly purchase premade holiday boughs, swags, and centerpieces, but it’s easy and fun to gather the evergreens and create the decorations yourself.

910Before you go out and prune your evergreens, decide what you will be making. Holiday centerpieces are more manageable with shorter sprigs of branches, and many of the short-needled evergreens, such as spruce and cedar, are useful for making these decorations. For long swags of evergreens that drape across a mantle or adorn a front door, longer-needled evergreens, such as white pine, make an elegant and lasting impression. The beauty of evergreens is the great variety of needle colors, shapes, and textures. This gives you the opportunity to mix and match different boughs, allowing you to create an attractive piece without having to resort to flashy decorations.

Prune off sprigs in the size you need from different parts of the tree, trying not to deform the tree’s shape. Consider collecting other natural materials at the same time, such as holly berries, pine cones, old milkweed pods, colorful branches, and even some late-blooming flowers. Weave together the different evergreen boughs, fastening them with wire or inserting them into floral foam. Then work in any other decorations you chose. Even just a simple bow or ornament can provide a beautiful accent for a piece. The evergreens should last a few weeks indoors, but eventually they will dry out and will need to be composted. However, if created right before the holidays, these centerpieces, swags, and boughs will make your home feel like a forest and will infuse your space with the sights and smells of the season.