Outdoor Winter Decorating

By: Janice Clements


If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I am not a green thumb.  Nary a summer goes by where I haven’t invested a great deal of money in the pots and planters around our home, watered them faithfully in June and July and then spent the better part of the month of August shamefully shirking my gardener responsibilities.

That’s why I love this season so much.  The pots I put outside my home require absolutely no attention, no watering, no sun.  I don’t have to worry about fertilizing (or in my case, burning the plants with too much fertilizer), ensuring to weed or to bring plants indoors when a frost sets in overnight.  As a matter of fact, the colder the better for the seasonal foliage.  A little bit of snow just adds a layer of interest and Canadiana to planters!  Gotta love the winter months for the resolutely brown thumbs among us!

With the weather being relatively mild in York Region, this year is particularly good for using your own planters and pots to decorate for the holidays.  Since the soil has not yet frozen into wintery bricks, it’s amazing how it acts a lot like floral foam.  Consider using some cuttings from your Christmas tree or purchase an inexpensive bundle of fresh greenery from a local tree farm, along with tall decorative twigs (which can be purchased very inexpensively at any craft store) and some magnolia leaves from a local greenhouse to create a simple but lush holiday planter.  Add a few colourful ornaments that you already own and voila!

For those of you who aren’t confident about what to use as exterior decorations or how to best create a welcoming holiday feel to the exterior of your home, I encourage you to slow down and take things one step at a time.

Since I am not a florist, my strategy for decorating our front porch this holiday season has been just that.  Purchasing a few pieces at a time allowed me to cost effectively create a layered look that took shape over time as I decided what elements of my planters needed to be improved upon.  Scanning the local Terra Greenhouse gave me inspiration and ideas on how to create a luxurious looking display.

Consider these simple tips when decorating the exterior of your home for the holidays:

-       Don’t buy all your decorations at once.  Know that over time you will bring in new ones and create a larger collection.

-       Don’t feel obliged to use all your decorations each year.  Alternating your displays from year to year allows you to get a fresh look each holiday season.

-       Bring the inside out by transitioning some of the heartier indoor decorations to the outdoors.  This will allow you to recycle and reuse some of those decorations you might have tired of.

-       Do update and purge!  Despite only using them for a short time each year, decorations can still become dull and old looking.  Don’t display those that no longer suit your style.

-       Shop in unconventional places to save money.  You may find more economical materials for pots at corner convenience stores or fruit markets.

-       Splurge on one or two key decorations that will last a lifetime.  You may find they’re something you can hand down to your children or grandchildren as a keepsake.  An elaborate wreath for the front door is perhaps the best accessory you can have for the holidays. 

-       Lights, lights, lights!  Ensure to put a spot on any planters or displays you’ve taken the time to create.  Why make it if it can’t be seen and enjoyed?

The real joy in decorating the outside of your home for the holidays is how forgiving a process it is.  Your displays do not have to be perfect and you can add to or take away from them over time. 

Once the sun goes down and you add some festive lighting, you’ll be surprised at the shape your displays will take!

Happy Holidays!


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