Festive floral arrangements and ideas for the holidays

Make your holiday décor even lovelier with one-of-a-kind arrangements of fresh flowers.
Cymbidium Floral in Exeter, NH

The creative team of floral designers at Cymbidium Floral—(left to right) Theresa Frampton, owner Jessica Christoferson and Stacey Grady— takes great pleasure in bringing joy to others with thoughtful and expressive flower arrangements.

The holidays are here, and company is coming. What better way to greet your guests than with fresh flowers?  

Rather than picking up a generic bouquet from the grocery store, look to your local florist for a one-of-a-kind personalized arrangement. Jessica Christoferson of Cymbidium Floral in Exeter says she and her design team—Theresa Frampton and Stacey Grady—enjoy helping people decorate and celebrate the holidays in their own way. “We encourage our customers to bring in a piece of china or their table linen so we can design the arrangement with a cohesive color palette just for them,” Christoferson says. These personal touches make for a special experience. “We can use the client’s vase or container, or supply one of our own,” she explains. “For Thanksgiving, I love using peach and copper-toned flowers in a container with a copper accent.” Low and lush is the signature style at Cymbidium, perfect for centerpieces.

Even the simplest table setting is brought to life with flowers. Alyssa Van Guilder of Apotheca Flowers in Goffstown says flowers can add a lot to a festive time. “They are a powerful way to convey a message,” she says. An artful arrangement of flowers welcomes friends and family to your home by creating a warm and inviting mood.

Van Guilder seeks out things that are different and inspiring for her shop and delights in pushing the envelope. “There is so much orange around us in the fall. You can try to avoid it, or dive in head first and have fun with it,” she says. “Ground the bold colors by adding dark blue or another cool-toned color.”

Grace your table with Cymbidium Floral’s warm and inviting Thanksgiving centerpiece of tangerine dahlias; orange-tipped echinacea pods; fragrant rosemary; Free Spirit roses; velvety, dark chocolate sunflowers; cymbidiums with a burgundy lip; toffee-hued amaranthus; sea star fern; and highly textured stellata pods. A copper accent strip elevates the humble wooden box to star status and reflects the copper tones used in the arrangement.

Rather than creating a solitary arrangement for the Thanksgiving table, Van Guilder prefers to anchor the flowers by designing a tablescape. Using items of different heights keeps the eye moving along the scene. “Vintage florals are coming back,” she says. “You can turn a strip of fabric or wallpaper into a table runner. Get crafty and use things you already have.”


Christmas doesn’t have to be all red and green; at Cymbidium, there isn’t a poinsettia in sight. Instead, Christoferson and her team create sophisticated looks using seasonal favorites, such as amaryllis; unique tropicals, such as proteas; and different types of orchids complemented with traditional greenery, such as cedar and balsam. “We encourage people to think beyond the usual, and to enjoy flowers that may be nontraditional but are still seasonal, natural and festive,” she says.

Christmas terrarium display by Apotheca Flowers & Tea Chest

For Christmas, make some mini-terrariums using berries, roses, and found materials like pinecones and greenery, similar to these by Apotheca Flowers. Whether you hang them on your tree, use them to decorate a swag or place them on a table, be sure they are not in direct sunlight to keep them fresh throughout the holiday season. They also make great last-minute gifts.

Terrariums are a popular Christmas item at Apotheca, and Van Guilder suggests making your own with materials found in nature—such as pinecones, lichens, moss and greenery—and combining them with fresh flowers and berries. “I love texture,” she says. “It is fun to accent a focal flower with non-floral elements, like grasses, or bark with moss growing on it, or other natural found objects. Juxtapose the earthy with the elegant to keep it a little unexpected!”

New Year’s

For your New Year’s Eve party, ring in 2015 with something glamorous. This is a great time to break out the silver and use it to house flower arrangements. Smaller pieces can be placed on side tables or a buffet, while a taller bouquet on an entry console welcomes guests. “New Year’s may be cold, but it also represents fresh beginnings and joyful gatherings,” Christoferson says. “I like to use a lot of white to echo the beauty of the snowfall as well as silver vases to bring warmth and elegance to holiday celebrations.”

New Year's Eve floral arragements from Cymbidium Floral in Exeter, NH
Hydrangea, phalenopsis, astilbe, ranunculus, helleborus buds and, of course, Cymbidium Floral’s signature flower—all in snowy white—look elegant for New Year’s in a vintage-style mercury glass vase. White ‘Mondial’ roses represent new beginnings. Teamed with ranunculus and astilbe in a silver creamer (left), this collection lends classic charm to any setting. Fragrant, white sweet peas in a mercury glass ball (right) add a shimmering sparkle to the holiday table.

Every week, Van Guilder stocks her coolers with fresh flowers in several pleasing color palettes, making it easy for customers to choose the look they want. To create a celebratory mood for the new year, try a gold-and-cream-themed bouquet that radiates light. Texture is important in a monochromatic arrangement, so be sure to add interesting twigs, such as curly willow, seedpods, leaves or grasses. To maintain the gold and cream theme, spray some of the nonfloral items with gold paint and sprinkle on the glitter for added glitz. “Create movement with a fireworks-like explosion of tall flowers in a broad sweeping arc,” Van Guilder says. Double the fun by placing your arrangement in front of or on a mirror.

Christoferson and her staff use all-natural elements in their arrangements. Christoferson says to get the most from an arrangement or bouquet of fresh flowers, they should be kept out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. To prolong the life of cut flowers, she says, change the water frequently and recut the stems. Cymbidium Floral opened in 2005 and was voted the best florist in New Hampshire in 2014 by New Hampshire Magazine’s annual Best of the Best poll.

Van Guilder opened Apotheca Flowers and Tea Chest in 2005 as a flower shop and tea bar, with the desire to have a creative space where people can find inspiration in many forms—from flowers to tea to unique gifts. In 2008, Apotheca Flowers moved to its present location in the old train station off Main Street in Goffstown. There is now a coffee bar, but the flower shop is still the backbone of the business.

Flower power

Wherever you purchase your holiday arrangements and bouquets, keep in mind that flowers do have the ability to trigger happy emotions, heighten feelings of satisfaction and affect social behavior in a positive way—all good things for the holiday season.  

Apotheca Flower Shop (Alyssa Van Guilder, Pamela Lada and Ricardo Santiesteban)
Apotheca Flowers owner Alyssa Van Guilder, Pamela Lada and Ricardo Santiesteban are known for their unique floral designs. Not just a florist and gift shop, Apotheca Flowers is also a place to come and sit with a cup of tea or coffee. Kay Valcourt manages the coffee bar and Barbara Carbonneau is a regular customer (shown in the background).
Categories: Gardening & Landscape