Thursday, December 25, 2008

pretending to be a mag writer at our weeklies

...With Boughs of Holly: LHS agri-science students host holiday decor workshop

The afternoon before Thanksgiving this year, a friend’s mother sent her on a hunt for seasonal accessories to spruce up the dinner table, leading to a frantic quest for miniature pumpkins. When area stores failed her, she made fall-colored candy bundles and resolved to plan further ahead come Christmas.

A brief afternoon at Ledyard High School last week would have solved her seasonal decorating angst. Horticulture teacher Shelly Roy and four students made Christmas decorating look simple, during a recent gift box centerpiece workshop.

This is the second year Roy has offered seasonal decoration lessons. Those in the know—mostly faculty and parents of agri-science program students—are repeat attendees who made floral cornucopias to adorn Thanksgiving tables last month. The workshops are so popular, Roy offers two sessions.

The featured Christmas centerpiece was a hollow red glass cube criss-crossed by festive ribbon to suggest a gift-wrapped parcel, with three types of white flowers and a bow arranged on top.

“It’s simple, it’s easy, very quick, and it goes together,” Roy said. She found the idea in an issue of Florists’ Review magazine but spruced up its institutional color palette when she interpreted it for the workshop.

Participants began by sticking greens around the base of the wet block of flower foam sitting in the empty cube. They cleaned all of the leaves off the bottom tip of each piece so it stuck cleanly into the foam. They added the large spider mums and then the smaller flowers.

Student helpers, thrilled at the opportunity to teach their teachers, ensured the different plants were spaced with aesthetic symmetry at slightly different heights, keeping the whole visually interesting but also pleasing to the eye.

“What do you think is wrong with it?” senior Jessica Senphansiry asked Susan Rhorer, gesturing to her
flowers. As the subsitute teacher watched, Senphansiry deftly thinned out one section of the arrangement and tightened another.

“What’s really neat is seeing how the kids can teach,” Roy said, echoing several of the teachers there.

Everyone finished the craft by fashioning a four-loop bow from the ribbon and attaching it to a small wooden pick with wire. The pick landed in the center of each arrangement with the loops and end of the bow folded among the flowers. Then, in a brief hour, 10 happy teachers paraded off with homemade decorations that, Roy assured them, would remain vibrant through the holidays if watered and kept in a cool location.

And if their houses were too steamy, she said, everything needed to make the centerpiece can be purchased at a craft store and filled with flowers from the supermarket.

Make Your Own
Gift Box Centerpiece


1 6-inch glass cube

2/3 brick of floral foam

Greens (like some fir or spruce)

Three stems of white spider mums

Two stems of white cushion mums

Four stems of white carnations

1 1/2 stems of yellow or green

2 to 3 yards of wired ribbon
(2 inches wide)

1 6-inch wooden pick with wire

The Kissing Ball

Junior Cheri White described it as “a misletoe times seven and put on steroids.” The kissing ball is a sphere of boxwood attached to a hanging hook and decorated with ribbon.

To make it, use one third of a block of flower foam covered with chicken wire or a kissing-ball-specific sphere of foam, and attach it to a wire with a hook. Then fill in the foam with sprigs of boxwood until all the interior is hidden. Make a bow out of ribbon, attach it to a wooden peg, and then plunge the peg into the foam near the top of the ball. If desired, attach a few hanging pieces of ribbon to the bottom of the bow to make it look like the bow went through the kissing ball. Then hang it up and go find someone to meet beneath it.

The Boxwood Tree

Make this miniature Christmas tree by starting with a piece of foam. Stick one sprig of boxwood in the top to create a vertical axis. Then, visualizing a triangle with the tip of that first sprig as its point, fill in the foam. Make sure there are longer pieces at the bottom and shorter pieces toward the top.

Choose tree accessories to stick, interspersed, into the foam that match with the rest of your Christmas decorations, senior Jessica Senphansiry advises. Then top it with a bow.

“You want to give it rhythm and harmony,” she said.

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