winter botanicals

December 7, 2017 Portland, OR, USA

Can I share a secret with you guys?

I don't really do the whole Christmas tree thing. There's no rational reason and rhyme behind why not. I have no excuse: I celebrate Christmas; I live in a state that is abundant with beautiful spruces, firs, and pines perfect for Christmas trees; and my mother is a champion Christmas tree decorator who taught me her ways.

And still, I don't do it.

Part of it is habit. For most of my adult life, I spent Christmas at my parents' place in Manila. I'm not lying when I say that my mom is a champion Christmas tree decorator: she starts decorating in October, and would put Martha Stewart to shame. She picks different colors as her theme each year, and makes sure that every ornament and decoration matches that theme. In my family, decorating a Christmas tree wasn't a collaborative family affair. It's Mom's show all the way, and she always makes sure that it's a spread fit for the pages of Better Homes & Gardens or Martha Stewart Living. I'm not getting in her way, nope.

Part of it is space. On the years I stayed home for Christmas, I've always lived in shabby, tiny apartments in cities like San Francisco and New York where space was limited. Even if I had room for a small tree, what on earth was I supposed to do with the lights and the ornaments the rest of the year? Usually, I was already keeping kitchenware in my closet/under the bed/luggage. Plus, the thought of transporting a Christmas tree via MUNI or the subway always gave me an anxiety attack. Still does.

But here's the thing: even without a tree, you can make your house festive for the winter. The trick is to find smaller botanicals that you can display around your house. A lot of winter botanicals dry out easily and beautifully, lasting much longer than a single season. You see those cotton branches in the photos? I bought them almost three years ago now. True story. And if you're lucky to live in a place with lots of greenery, you can always just save your cash and forage your own botanicals. I picked up these red fir branches on my driveway after a particularly nasty wind storm blew them in from my neighbor's (much more verdant) property.

So without further ado, here is a roundup of my favorite non-Christmas tree winter botanicals around the interwebs. Happy winterizing, folks!

white ilex berry garland || olive and eucalyptus half wreath

PS — A lot of folks were asking where I got my cotton branches from. Unfortunately, I bought them at New Seasons, a fancypants supermarket that's local only to Portland. I did find these cotton stems from Magnolia Market that were very similar; you could also repurpose this cotton garland from Terrain.

PPS — I get a lot of DMs about my furniture on Instagram. Sources are included below:

Sofa: Rejuvenation
Side Table: Urban Outfitters (no longer available, but this table is similar)
Coffee Table: Urban Outfitters (no longer available, but this table and this table are similar)
Throw Pillows: Rejuvenation (patterned) and Rejuvenation (striped)
Leather Chair: West Elm
Sheepskin Rug: Crate and Barrel
Dining Table: Crate and Barrel
Dining Chairs: Crate and Barrel (chair) and Crate and Barrel (cushion)

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