A beautiful bouquet can add color, drama, and a touch of panache to any festivity. While it’s enjoyable to give—or receive—a fancy arrangement during the holidays, it’s also enjoyable to place your own creation on your table, mantelpiece, or buffet.

If you’d like to create a noteworthy arrangement yourself, consider the following suggestions, based on the professional guidance provided in Norah T. Hunter’s The Art of Floral Design, 3rd Edition:

  • Make a plan. Though it can have a beauty and charm of its own, a bunch of flowers simply placed in a vase does not, in and of itself, truly constitute an arrangement. Before you begin working with the flowers, write notes or sketch your ideas. Take the time to think about such factors as the bouquet’s eventual placement, the occasion or theme for which it’s being created  (e.g., a birthday, a bon-voyage party, New Year’s Eve), and the angles from which it will be seen.
  • Observe professionals’ work. Let their work inspire and instruct you. Consider and analyze what makes a particular arrangement pleasing—or not-so-pleasing—to the eye. By so doing, your sensibilities will become better trained to notice what comprises a successful design.
  • Take harmony into account. As in music, the individual components of a successful floral arrangement mesh together to create a pleasing composition. Factors such as color, size, mood, texture, the types of flowers chosen (e.g., tropical flowers, wildflowers), greenery, the container, and accompanying accessories (such as candles, ribbons, or stones), can contribute to an overall harmonious effect. The ultimate placement of the arrangement also plays a role in peoples’ perception of harmony. For example, a centerpiece should not overwhelm the rest of the items you need to place on your dinner table.
  • Also consider unity. No one element should stand out from, or appear separate from, the rest of the arrangement. But as in many things, “unity” need not mean “uniformity”—use of varying shades of a single color or variations on a single flower shape can contribute to a unified look.
  • Speaking of color… your color choices most certainly have an effect on the overall impression your arrangement gives. Consider that warm colors such as red, orange, and yellow connote feelings of cheerfulness and are often seen as “bold,” while cool colors such as blue, green, and violet can evoke a sense of rest and peacefulness. Though not technically a “color,” white serves an effective neutral and blends nicely with other colors. White flowers can also create a strikingly elegant bouquet when used on their own. (pp. 120-142)

Above all, don’t be afraid to experiment—as you gain experience, your confidence will increase. The professionals spend significant time practicing… why not you?

Reference: Content adapted from Hunter, Norah T. 2013. The Art of Floral Design, 3rd Edition. Clifton Park, NY: Delmar, Cengage Learning.