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Burst of Berries
Temper vivid red tulips and berries with a copper vase in an earthy, mottled shade of rust. French tulips can be lanky and droopy, so insert them after creating a framework of holly, winter-berry, and red twig dogwood for support. Add antique glass Christmas ornaments to the branches and in small cups to complete the arrangement.
Hand-hammered copper vase, $450, leodesignnyc.com.
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Tired of poinsettias? Freshen up your Yule-tide decor with these cheerful houseplants instead. Simply arrange on a side table a selection of potted specimens -- cyclamen, amaryllis, primroses, Chinese evergreen (aglaonema) -- that boast scarlet flowers or red-tinged leaves. They will last well past New Year’s Day and brighten up the darkest days of winter.
Trunk pot planter, in Natural, $18; and pine barrel pot, in Natural, $18; shopterrain.com. Cast wood ring pot, $55, bunny williams.com/treillage. Victorian taxidermy bird box, $1,490, lbecker flowers.com.
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A Rosy View
Even the smallest dollops of red (in this instance, a few ranunculus, miniature roses, and parrot tulips) will stand out when set against ivory walls, pale wood, white china, and silvery ornaments. Gray-green eucalyptus pods and pine needles create a muted backdrop for the centerpiece.
Blue-and-white checked Fog Linen napkins, $48 for 4, John Derian Dry Goods, 212-677-8408. Pine Glitz large round dinner plates, $117 each, dbohome.com. Dandy glass pitcher, by Nason Moretti, in Coral/Gray, $285 each, barneys.com. Lempi glass, by Matti Klenell for Iittala, in Gray, $71 for 2, finnish designshop.us. Place-holder glass bubbles, $6 each, shopterrain.com. Frosted deer mule antlers, by Grace and Blake, $150 each, parkerkennedy living.com.
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Eschew the expected fireplace garland. Instead, group different styles and sizes of vases, and fill them with long and short stems of red amaryllis, red-and-white carnations, anemones, and striped amaryllis. Coordinate the colors of the vessels (in this case, gold and white) for a cohesive look.
Painting (untitled), by Nick Barbieri, $1,800, cristina dossantos.com. Bavarian porcelain vases, with gold-leaf coral motif, Rorschach motif, and gilt bird design, from $295 to $375 each, theendof historyshop.blogspot.com. Gold luster tile, from $300; Cyril vase, in Gloss Clear, $490; mushroom sculpture, from $100; and still-life book, $365 for 5; kleinreid.com.
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Martha and Lloyd Traven make a holiday centerpiece using colorful poinsettias.
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Arrangement with Sweet Frangrances
Sweet fragrances and sunrise colors fill this vase with bright promise for the New Year. Kumquats and limes evoke a tropical getaway, as do lush blossoms of phalaenopsis orchids (available at many supermarkets). The perfumes of paperwhite narcissus and jasmine are a surefire pick-me-up. As you make the arrangement, insert the sturdy citrus branches before adding the delicate flower stems. For a final touch, let some jasmine trail down the side.
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Small White Arrangements
Unlike Narnia, where it's always winter and Christmas never comes, this land of ice and snow welcomes festivities (soundtrack: Louis Armstrong's "Cool Yule"). A combination of vintage and contemporary vessels holds white spider mums as well as seeded eucalyptus (available at florists) and blue Atlas cedar branches lightly frosted with silver floral spray paint. For a change of scene, line up containers across a mantel, along a windowsill, or down the middle of a table.
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For this arrangement, the color inspiration came from a beautiful box of French macarons, grouping lots of small bunches of pistachio, petal-pink, and peach carnations.
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Martha grows a lot of amaryllis in her greenhouse. "Because it is difficult to display the flowers with the bulbs, I often cut the flower stalks and use them in bowls (sometimes I fill out the arrangements with purchased blooms), says Martha. "When combined with Southern magnolia leaves, these burgundy- centered cream-white flowers make a striking arrangement."
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Capable of much more than just filling space, baby's breath is actually most impressive on its own. Buy a mass of it or set aside some from other bouquets, and then group it into a soft and blurry cloud, grounding the stems in cleverly concealed blocks of floral foam.
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Designed to replicate exotic blooming trees, this poetic display is an illusion contrived by securing blossoms to buckthorn branches. Bursts of color electrify the wood and its surrounding space, making an ideal -- if ephemeral -- setting for entertaining.
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Ubiquitous, inexpensive, and long lasting, carnations possess gorgeous petals -- and distracting sepals attached to the stems. Clustering the blooms, whether monochromatic or multihued, into a dense dome plays up the flowers' prettiest feature.
How to Make a Dome
Soak five blocks of floral foam in water. Line up three in a shallow bowl. Center another on top. Cut last block in half crosswise, placing half on each side of stack. Trim carnation stems to two to three inches, and stick into top block. Continue, from top to bottom, trimming as needed to fill out the dome.
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A mixed bouquet is artfully rearranged among a dozen slender vases, freeing each bloom to flaunt its beauty. Much is made of long stems, but trimming them to staggered heights lets individual roses stand out.