Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly

(Family Features) - While many Americans are drawn to inflatable snowmen and icicle lights for their holiday decorating, consider a fresh alternative by personalizing your decorations using natural items such as dried flowers, evergreens, berries and fruit. Today, storybook boughs of holly and simple fresh greenery have evolved into elaborate decorations adorning doors, windows, fences and lampposts. It may seem daunting to recreate these masterpieces, but it’s possible to make nature's beauty part of the holidays without going any farther than your backyard.

The art of natural decorating is mastered by Colonial Williamsburg experts who have been making Christmas memorable and unique for 70 years. Decorators in Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area use more than 79 cases of fruit, three miles of white pine roping and 2,550 natural white pine and Fraser fir wreaths to adorn the Historic Area for the holidays.

"Incorporating a sense of tradition into your holiday decorating is as simple as gathering fresh greenery from your backyard," said Laura Viancour, Colonial Williamsburg’s coordinator of garden programs. "Natural materials require constant maintenance, but their beauty and wonderful aromas are worth the effort."

Guests visiting Colonial Williamsburg this holiday season can witness firsthand the Historic Area's stunning seasonal transformation with the Grand Illumination celebration a time-honored celebration complete with fireworks and entertainment.

F1275bTo transform your home and capture the timeless grace of natural décor, decorators at Colonial Williamsburg offer the following tips:

  • Eye for inspiration. Nature should be your muse when creating a traditional, natural arrangement. Select berries, greenery, woods and other natural adornments with different textures and colors to create interest and fill your home with a fresh, holiday aroma. Colonial Williamsburg's decorations provide many ideas that guests can try at home by incorporating natural materials found in their own backyards.
  • Give your plants moisture. Keep greens fresh longer by inserting stems into water-absorbent florist foam. The moist green foam used for pre-made floral arrangements can help promote the longevity of your natural adornments and is available at various outlets, including online at Periodically spritzing your arrangements with water can also help.
  • Keep your cool. Increase the longevity of your decorations by maintaining a cool temperature, similar to the inside of a refrigerator. Outdoor decorations last longer in the shade than in full sun. Check natural items like berries frequently and replace as needed.
  • Personalize your decorations. Incorporate items with special meanings or decorations related to your family background to personalize your arrangements. Try using twigs and twine to create family names to accent your arrangement, or adorn pictures or heirlooms with natural items, such as leaves or flowers.

Colonial Williamsburg offers more than 300 programs from Thanksgiving to New Year's Eve. Seasonal programs and events, including the interactive Revolutionary City program, make Colonial Williamsburg a year-round destination. For more information, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit