You procrastinated when planning a romantic Valentine’s Day this year? And now all the best restaurants are booked and the limo services aren’t even answering their phones. It’s not too late. Order the flowers. Today. Then plan some quality romantic moments for tomorrow.
Here are five great mix and match ideas for saving yourself and enjoying time with your partner. Keep in mind that you need to plan an experience, add the element of surprise, and, above all, be totally focused on your dearest.
Enjoy a picnic. Choose the location. Your living room floor, your backyard, at the park or public garden, anywhere you can spread a blanket will do. Choose the time. Breakfast, which might include your bringing a favorite cereal, bowls, spoons and milk. Lunch, which can be already put together sandwiches and chips on paper plates with soft drinks. Or you can order takeout from a favorite restaurant for a dinner picnic and include a bottle of wine and wine glasses. If it’s late enough, you can lie back on the blanket afterwards and stargaze and talk about life and each other.
Walk or hike. Walk downtown and window shop, holding hands and allowing yourselves a small budget to spend on each other. See if you can buy something without the other’s knowledge and surprise him or her. See a matinee or take a local bus tour. Or, if you have access to wide open country, go for a hike. Take along water and a small sack lunch. Plan ahead and think of everything so your partner can relax and enjoy. It’s always a good idea to have a surprise gift tucked away in your jacket or backpack to present while you are resting.
Gift a spa day. Giving a spa gift certificate is great, but not as romantic as being the masseusse yourself. You can provide a much more relaxing treatment at home and reap the rewards yourself. Usually a spa day would include a bubble bath, a massage, and a facial. Chances are you have all the supplies you need already on hand. Clean towels, bubble bath, a soft robe, a place to lounge, massage oils (protect fabric with a clean sheet if you are using massage oils), a mud mask, candles, and hot teas or decaffeinnated beverages are the basics. Put on some relaxing mood music. For more ideas, read Give Yourself a Spa Day. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Choose two or three things that you would feel comfortable doing, and keep it simple and easy so you are both relaxed.
Have a day of fun. Your partner’s idea of fun, that is. Spend the day doing what he or she likes and be gracious and fun. Take your camera or cell phone along and have strangers take your pictures as a couple throughout the day. Be spontaneous or prepared, based on what you know about your partner.
Plan a romantic dinner at home. The food is not as important as the work you put into it. Setting the table, putting on music, lighting candles and adding a few roses can make macaroni and cheese seem like a banquet. If you don’t want to cook and be worried about cleaning the kitchen, order takeout or delivery. Just remember to make it a surprise and look deep into your partner’s eyes during dinner.
And, some nice romantic touches that can add to any of the above experiences include:
Flowers – arranged to have them delivered at the beginning of your romantic efforts
Chocolate dipped strawberries or champagne
Tickets to an event that your partner will enjoy
A love letter or short, romantic texts – check out some love poems online
What Women Want: A Foolproof Guide to Valentine’s Day Gift-Giving
Among the laundry list of things most men don’t understand about women is the utterly confounding Valentine’s Day gift. The importance women bestow on the perfect Valentine’s gift is a mystery tantamount to men’s inability to understand women’s obsessions with five-inch heels, puppies and going to the bathroom in groups. But whether or not you understand it, Valentine’s Day gift-giving is a fact of life, and an important one at that.
Women consider gift-giving nothing short of an art form and when you add in the fact that it’s a day dedicated to displays of affection and love, most men give up before they even try and opt out for the standard flowers and chocolate. And while every woman loves her 70 percent cocoa Godiva and two-dozen red roses, the majority of women prefer something a little extra. The secret formula goes a little something like this:
25% unique (to show her you “get” her) + 25% sweet (to show you have a romantic side) + 25% thoughtful (to show her you value her) and lastly, but definitely no less important + 25% presentable (newspaper wrappings and shoeboxes need not apply).
With this formula in mind, here are five more tips to help you get started:
The most important piece of advice anyone can give when it comes to choosing the right gift is to listen to your lady. Though most women won’t come right out and say what they want, choosing, instead, to constantly drop hints about their likes and dislikes. If you stay tuned in to the little things, you’ll likely be inspired or at least get some direction to help you get started. Catch her fawning over a fancy clutch in the latest issue of Vogue? Peek over her shoulder, take note of which one she likes, and if it’s within your budget buy her the exact one and if not, buy her a similar, more reasonably-priced version. This will score you MAJOR brownie points. Not only did you buy her something of the clothing/accessory variety (a path men rarely venture down), but you paid attention to which one she liked. This speaks volumes—trust me.
2. Think outside the box.
Chocolates or flowers aren’t bad as accompanying gifts, but one lonely box of even the most expensive chocolates isn’t a winner in most women’s book and a bouquet similar to those she receives for her birthday and your anniversary will likely not make her Valentine’s Day totally complete. Do something a little different with chocolates, i.e. making homemade bon-bons with her favorite Scharffenberger chocolate or hand-picking her individual favorites to make a “personalized” box of chocolates. It’s all about creativity!
3. Presentation is key.
Even the least materialistic woman in your life will view your gift as a greater representation of your feelings towards her. And the simplest of gifts can truly look like a million bucks if presented and wrapped properly. This doesn’t mean you should saunter over to the gift wrapping counter of your local department store; rather, take a shot at wrapping the gift yourself. Even if the sides of the wrapping paper come up short and there is a full roll of tape patched all over the box, it will show more thought and consideration than a gift wrapped by the clerk at the gift-wrapping station. The real kicker? A hand-written card.
4. The devil’s in the details.
Chances are her most cherished gift from you isn’t necessarily the most fancy, extravagant or expensive, but the gift that had the most thought behind it. Over-the-top luxury gifts that show no thought are, for most women, no more appreciated than a simple gift that is straight from the heart. Sounds cliché and seems like common knowledge, but often times men get so caught up in the hype that they think they need to overcompensate and go for the overdone $300 necklace. In reality, however, a well thought-out, meaningful gift will melt her heart faster than any run-of-the-mill heart-shaped necklace.
5. When in doubt…
If you’re strapped for time and/or ideas, pick from one of the following tried and true options that are consistent crowd-pleasers and come straight from the horse’s mouth:
Chore stubs/coupons, i.e. you buy the groceries for a week; you walk the dog in the mornings, etc.
Tickets to a concert or other event you can enjoy together
Accompany her on a shopping “spree” (no need to drop $5K in a day, just treat her to a few items and offer to go along with her—no sulking, heavy sighs or pit-stops at the men’s lounge allowed)
Surprise weekend getaway
Buy her membership to a wine, or fruit-of-the-month club (this is the gift that keeps on giving)
Engraved piece of jewelry/watch (it takes standard jewelry to the next level)
A photo album of pictures of you as a couple
Perfume (she’ll think of you whenever she puts it on – just make sure it’s her fave.)
A surprise gift a few days before Valentine’s Day
Do something you hate but she loves…there’s no better day to be selfless
Eighty-Five Percent of Men Want Gifts This Valentine’s Day
When it comes to gift preferences, men like gifts that represent personal recognition or admiration from their partner, while women want gifts that represent a public display of affection and one that
reinforces the couple’s identity. Men look forward to receiving:
Jewelry with personal engravings
Items related to a favorite hobby or pastime
Women, on the other hand, hope to receive flowers that are delivered to their work or another public place, as well as items that can be showcased to family and friends such as new clothes, jewelry, or special photographs of them with their significant other.
“What we’re revealing is that Valentine’s Day is a two-way street — a time and opportunity for lovers to express and receive special sentiments,” said Dr. James Houran, chief psychologist at TRUE. “But men and women crave different sentiments from their partners. ”
Hi! My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist and we are located in McLean, Virginia.
Today, we want to talk about how to buy the perfect floral arrangement for Valentine’s Day. What we are going cover is, how to choose the right florist; how to choose the right flower and arrangement; how to get the best quality, and how to get the best performance and experience with your Valentine’s Day flowers.
Before we get going, let me say just a little bit about myself and MyFlorist. My wife and I started the company in 1989 and in that time we have grown to be a top one hundred florist nationally out of 25,000 florists in this country; and I think our success is because we have certain philosophical points that are important to us. We carry lots of flowers and we give our designers almost unlimited options to work with. Our designers are among the best in the industry. They are truly artisans and we want them to make each work a unique custom-made design.
So that’s a little bit about us. Let’s get going. What we are going to talk about right now is how to find the right retail florist.
How to Choose a Florist for Valentine’s Day
Brad Parker: Hi! My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist and we are in McLean, Virginia. In this segment what we want to explore is, how do you go about and find the right retail florist. Today, it is become increasingly popular to go to the Internet and the Internet of course is best and wonderful resource and you can use it to get a good result, but you really do have to be careful. In our industry, if you go to the Internet the majority of the florist on the Internet are, what we call cyber florist. In other words, they don’t actually do anything more than take your order; they don’t actually have a store; they don’t actually touch the flowers; they don’t arrange the flowers. What they do is they take your order, they take a sizeable amount of the money, and then they send it downline to a florist that will fill it for them.
In our experience, it’s not a great value for the consumer. What I would suggest you do if you go to the Internet, my favorite thing to do is to go to Google or you can use one of the other search engines, but if you go to Google and you just type in florist and next to it your zip code or the zip code where you want to send flowers, what would immediately popup on the top and to the right are all the paper click adds. The majority of these florists are the cyber florist. If you are interested then drill down into their site and see if you can find a local address. You might not be able to find one at all and if you do you might find that it’s thousands of miles away.
Now, on the lower left hand side you have the organic listings. Many of these florists are listed. They are your local florist and it is a pretty good source to go to; but the absolute best place to look is in the middle left. Google will provide for you the names and addresses with maps of the local florist in the town or zip code that you just put your search for, so start there because there you are going to find a real florist that you can deal with directly.
Now, once you have selected a florist, you found a local florist or a florist that’s near where you want to have flowers delivered, the next challenge is to find out whether it is a established florist with a good reputation. There are many florists in our industry that are more like hobbies and they are like serious businesses. The problem in these instances are that they just don’t have enough size and volume to carry enough inventory of fresh flowers and they also often are not able to employ fulltime designers, who are truly talented and skilled in the filed. So one thing that I would recommend, if you find a local florist and you talk to them; try to find out and see if they have at least six to ten fulltime employees and a couple of delivery vans. That will tell you that they have a certain size; they have a certain critical mass, so that they can have a good inventory of fresh flowers on hand at all-time and they can afford to employee one or more fulltime skilled designers.
So these are some of the tips if you just have to go out there on your own and find a florist. My number one recommendation for finding a good florist is to get a referral. Talk to a co-worker, talk to a neighbor, talk to a family member, someone who has an established relationship with the florist and they have been getting a good result. This is the best single way to find the right florist to serve your needs on Valentine’s Day or any day.
In the next segment, we are going to look at how you can choose the perfect arrangement for Valentine’s Day.
How to Buy Non-Rose Flowers for Valentine’s Day
Brad Parker: Hi! My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist in McLean, Virginia and in this segment, we want to look at your flower choices on Valentine’s Day, if you don’t want to buy roses. In fact, 25% of the purchases on Valentine’s Day are not roses and the good news here is the universe of flowers is enormous. The variety of colors, shapes, textures and fragrances is absolutely wonderful and if you are working with the right florist and the right flowers and the right designer, it’s amazing what can be done. If you take a look here at some of these flowers, it’s a Gerbera Daisy, nice type, focal point in vivid color; you have Hydrangeas; you have flowers with the long lines. It’s incredible what can be done. The key, when you want to have a flower arrangement made for you on Valentine’s Day that’s not roses, is again to find the right florist. You need a florist that has a big inventory of flowers and has the right designers who can put them together in a way in which you are really sinks. Here is another example, actually a mixed arrangement with both roses and non-rose. These were Snapdragons, the long ones, but you can see, it’s done in the beautiful and unique design, which is going to make an absolutely lovely statement. So your options actually are large, but you want to find a florist that has the right inventory of flowers and the designers who can make something really unique and beautiful for you. Finally, what we want to address is which flowers last the longest. I am often asked this and in reality almost all flowers last plenty long enough to give you a great experience with your arrangement. The key is whether or not they are quality flowers and whether or not they have been handled properly and we are going to look into the quality and handling issue in our next segment.
Hi, My name is Brad Parker and my company is MyFlorist and we are in McLean, Virginia and what we want to look at now is helping you choose just the right arrangement for Valentine’s Day. The number one choice and the right choice in the majority of the cases is a dozen long stem red roses.
Why? Well, roses for centuries have been symbolic of love more than any other single flower and particularly red roses and it’s also an American tradition on Valentine’s Day and for many women it’s the lifelong dream to receive a dozen long stem red roses on Valentine’s Day. So my first choice would be to suggest a dozen long stem red roses.
Now, first of all, what is a long stem rose? Roses are graded in three different lengths. 40 centimeters are considered short, 50-60 centimeters are considered medium and 70-80 centimeters are considered to be long. For Valentines Day you want a dozen long stem red roses, such as these. When you have the long stem roses, you get a much fuller showy arrangement. So, that’s one thing. It’s not just a dozen red roses, but you want a dozen long stem roses that will really show well. Secondly, you want a good quality rose.
Roses should be in this stage when you receive them. You don’t want them completely tight. If they are completely tight and they haven’t started to open, it’s what we called in the industry a bullet. They may never open. On the other hand, you don’t want a rose that’s completely wide open. Those roses would be old and they won’t last that long. So, you want a rose that is maybe 20%-30% open. It will take another three to five days to fully open and another two or three days before they finally expire. So, you want the long stem roses and you want the right quality of the roses.
Next point I would like to make is that you want these long stem roses well-designed and with a nice complimentary flower. In this particular arrangement, the complimentary flower is what we call Baby’s Breath or Gypsophilia. It’s a beautiful pure white color and the red roses seem to just float on top of them and of course the contrast between the red and the white is absolutely lovely. It really completes the arrangement.
So you want something that really shows well. That’s part of the whole affect for your Valentines Day flowers. Now, some people want to know what should you expect to pay on Valentine’s Day. Again, you want a quality long stem dozen roses and it’s going to depend a lot on what part of the country you are purchasing the roses. It’s going to vary between $75 and a $125 on this holiday. If you are in the big cities like Chicago, New York, San Francisco you are probably going to pay up around a $125. If you are in Middle America and rural America, you are going to probably about $75.
Now, you may know that you want to send roses, but you don’t want to send red roses, there are other options and perhaps the person that you want to send flowers to – you know that their favorite color may be pink or white or yellow and there are many different colors in roses for you to choose from. Here is one of my favorite: these medium pink roses – absolutely lovely for Valentines Day. Pink is feminine, it’s sensuous and it’s romantic. It’s one of my favorite colors for this holiday.
So you don’t have to just send red roses. Many different colors are also available and again, you have the sending of roses, which is such a traditional message on Valentine’s Day of love. So, now that we have talked about roses perhaps you are one of those people who knows they want to send some flowers, beautiful flowers for Valentine’s Day, but you know you don’t want to send roses and that would put you in the category of about 25% of people on Valentine’s Day.
We are going to talk about that in our next segment. It’s exciting because you have lots of options.
Your New Year’s Eve party is tomorrow night and you still haven’t decided on the decorations? We have some ideas for you!
All That Glitters
Choose a theme and design your party decorations and menu around it. New Year themes can include gold and silver star decorations, gift packs and party favors. Choose traditional New Year’s colors to start. Metallics like gold and silver with black are popular choices and can be used in any combination. Brights like red, blue, yellow and green are also festive colors you can use to decorate a New Year’s party. Visit your local party store to select New Years decorations and your local florist for flowers and centerpieces. Most party stores offer a wide variety of themes, from elegant to family friendly, and themed packages are a great way to coordinate your party and get everything you need. Or go simple, and choose a few key decorations as the focal point for your party.
Patriotic New Year themes can include small flags or decorations that use red, white and blue as the key colors of your indoor and outdoor New Year decorations. Look for wind chimes, candle decorations in flowers arrangements, ribbons and streamers, noise makers, and balloon decorations. Set your table with colorful paper goods for ease and convenience. Mix metallic colored plates, cups and napkins with black tablecloths. Before setting the table, liberally strew about a few generous handfuls of glittering confetti and party poppers. Inflate as many balloons as possible with helium, tie on ribbon, and let them float to the ceiling. You can hang party favors or snacks from the ends of the ribbon. Mylar balloons can reinforce a metallic theme, and a mixture of brightly colored balloons is a feast for the eyes of skyward-looking guests.
Find or create decorations with New Year’s images. Top hats, crowns and noisemakers can double as decorations and costumes if they are hung or placed decoratively. Hang banners featuring “Father Time” and “Baby New Year,” clocks, dates, champagne bottles and glasses. Cut out or printed stars can be another fun theme, and you can even hang strands of star-shaped white lights. Any specialty shapes can help create a theme. Hearts, snowflakes, bells and fun confetti are great additions to the overall decor. Hang festive streamers or strands of ribbon from the ceiling, from railings and decorate the backs of chairs. Recycle metallic ribbons from Christmas.
Make centerpieces low, so party goers can see each other and interact. Try a bowl of floating candles and flowers or a wreath with metallic ribbons and candles. Floral centerpieces can usually be delivered the morning of the party, or even the day before so they are at their freshest. Discuss your options with your florist.
Celebrate the Holidays in Style: Expert Rebecca Cole Says Go Green for a Red-Hot Holiday Season
The winter holiday season is the No. 1 floral-buying time of year. With that in mind, the Society of American Florists (SAF) has teamed with the host of Discovery Channel’s Surprise by Design Rebecca Cole to showcase the floral trends that will give homes a festive feeling this holiday season.
“Because we’re returning to our roots and hosting intimate celebrations at home, we’ll see more traditional colors, and greenery, whose scents will bring us back to our childhood,” said Cole, who also is a contributor to the Today show.
The Traditional Meaning of Greenery
Great holiday arrangements begin with greenery. In ancient cultures, people believed that bringing foliage into the home during the season was lucky and guaranteed the return of vegetation in the spring. Even today, green remains a staple in holiday décor.
Rebecca’s Tips for Sprucing Up Your Home:
Incorporate a scented pine or other greens into a centerpiece or table arrangement. Accent the greens with flowers that complement the home’s décor.
Ask your florist for a bunch of evergreen, cypress or mistletoe to place throughout your home – over the threshold, in the foyer or on the mantel.
Line a mantel or dining table with small evergreen topiaries or “baby” Christmas trees decorated with bows or flowers.
Florists carry a wide selection of poinsettias in pink, peach, white, plum and speckled or marbled varieties, in addition to the traditional red.
According to Cole, “Whether it’s a gift or for home décor, ‘colorful greenery’ is a thoughtful and long-lasting way to send holiday cheer.”
It is well known that people remember receiving flowers. According to a recent study by SAF and The Michael Cohen Group, 92 percent of women remember the last time they received flowers. Because they are a time when memories are made, there is no better time than the holidays for sending a sentiment of caring.
“Sending flowers for the holidays is the gift of emotion,” Cole said. “The season has a way of conjuring up feelings of nostalgia. We think about grandma’s house, the cozy fireplace, the great feast and good times with family and friends. Flowers and plants are the finishing touch that make the holidays complete.”
From wreaths to centerpieces, bulb plants and topiaries, Cole shares her best bets for holiday winners.
Amaryllis and Paper White Narcissus are examples of bulb plants that if given after Thanksgiving or in early December, will bloom just in time for Christmas. Cyclamen, kalanchoe and Christmas cactus are other great flowering plant options.
Ask your florist to design an arrangement incorporating fruits and vegetables to create a winter harvest feeling.
Candles added to a centerpiece create a sense of warmth and glow to the holiday table. Shiny decorative balls incorporated into a centerpiece will reflect the light for an even more festive feel.
According to Cole, this year’s designs will be all about simple elegance with a flair for fun. “If you don’t have a white Christmas on the outside, bring it inside, with big bunches of anemones or other white flowers,” Cole said.
Cole has this advice for creating festive, colorful tables for dinner, brunch or even cocktail hour.
Florists are now creating beautiful flower arrangements using colorful poinsettias and amaryllis – now available as cut flowers – for a stylish centerpiece.
Decorate a brunch table with splashes of morning hues, including oranges, yellows and reds in decorative containers, or even champagne flutes.
Fill a round Christmas ornament or other small holiday container with small bunches of flowers to use as place card holders for guests.
A palette of white and silver adds elegance to a holiday table and is expected to be a popular color scheme for the upcoming holiday season.
Arrangements and centerpieces in robust hues of purple and burgundy will create a sensuous, lush setting for dinners, both intimate and large.
If you are attending a holiday gathering, ask your florist to deliver a cheerful arrangement or holiday plant before you arrive. When you show up, you’ll be the talk of the evening.
About Rebecca Cole
Rebecca Cole is a New York City floral and interior designer. She is the founder of Cole Creates, a retail and design business, and she appears regularly on television and radio shows. The author of Flower Power, Potted Gardens and Paradise Found, she is a regular contributor to the Today show and has appeared on Oprah. Cole is also the star of the Discovery Channel show, Surprise by Design.
Thirteen shopping days until Christmas. You know what video games, consoles, cell phones and media players are on your kids’ wish list. You have a great gift in mind for the spouse. But you don’t have a clue what to send your loved ones scattered around the country. Flowers! Gift Baskets! Poinsettias! Perfect. Easy. And here’s why:
Shopping for flowers is easy. Shop online any time of day. Have your addresses and credit card handy. Choose from our Holiday selections, add to the shopping cart, enter three minutes’ worth of information, another two minutes of info for each recipient, hit “Submit” and you’re golden. Or call us at 888.255.9500, 24/7 to place your order with a floral consultant.
Shopping for flowers is time-saving. See #1.
Shopping for flowers is affordable. Factor in what your time is worth, how long it would take at the local mall, shopping center or departments store, gift wrapping, packaging, and standing in line to mail everything, and the real cost of sending flowers plummets.
Flowers are the perfect gift. They provide holiday cheer & atmosphere. And gourmet and fruit baskets are a delightful gift for the whole family to enjoy.
You get to save $10 for EACH arrangement you order. (Offer good until December 15, 2008. Use promotion code Pine2. Applies to online orders only.)
Tips for Shopping Online for Holiday Flowers
You may be surprised to learn that Christmas and Hanukkah are the top holiday times for flowers in number of sales and dollar volume — capturing 30 percent of each — according to The Society of American Florists, or SAF. Mother’s Day is second, with 24 percent of the transactions and 25 percent of the dollar volume, while Valentine’s Day comes in third. The figures are based on sales of cut flowers and potted plants at all types of retail outlets.
Florists fall into two categories: physical and online. Karen Marinelli, a Pennsylvania-based floral industry professional who consults with retail and wholesale florists, advocates florists because, unlike big-box stores or supermarkets, they have an incentive to care for the plants. “The florist paid for them the minute they got them,” says Marinelli. And because neither grocery stores nor big-box stores are set up to care for flowers in terms of refrigeration and a watering regimen, quality deteriorates fast.
“Temperature is really important for cut flowers. A difference of five degrees makes a huge difference in vase life,” says Marinelli. Flowers consistently kept cold from the time they are picked through transportation and retail display should last 10 days in the home, she says. But if you’re looking at a display of bouquets poking out of buckets containing room-temperature water that may be dirty or slimy, forget it. Puddles on the floor by the display are another red flag. Bacteria and mold will flourish in the stagnant water and your flowers will suffer for it.
“Supermarkets are going to give you the best price,” says Paul Goodman, an Oklahoma-based consultant who runs Floral Finance Business Services. “If you want to have design services and you want to have delivery, that’s the retail florist’s market.” Goodman likes florists for their service, but that means higher prices.
“The retail florist is in the special occasion business,” he says. “It’s not going to be the cheapest, by any stretch of the imagination.”
Using a Local Florist Saves You Money
Buying online can be risky. If you want flowers delivered to long-distance loved ones, it’s best to order directly from a florist in their city. Searching online can often lead you to what the industry calls “order gatherers” or “fake florists” who will charge a hefty $10 to $15 fee.
The other option for delivery is transmitting the order to a florist in the recipient’s city via a local florist. You will have to pay a $5 to $7 wire-service fee, but that’s still about half of a typical online fee.
Using a local florist also gives you an advocate, Marinelli says. “Using the Internet to relay an order is expensive,” Marinelli says. “Some of the online sites really take advantage of consumers.”
“With a local florist, you have a place to go back to if there’s a problem. There is accountability built in,” she says. In addition, online sites often tout arrangements, also known as expressions, that feature costly out-of season flowers and containers, says Marinelli. A florist can guide a buyer not only to what is in-season but what’s actually in their cooler, eliminating the time and cost to source what an order gatherer sold.
“In my estimation, a good professional florist can convey the same expression in flowers for at least $25 less than it would cost to send the expression by an online order gatherer,” Marinelli says.
Yesterday – The History and Legend of the Poinsettia
Joel Robert Poinsett, who was an amateur botanist and the first ambassador to Mexico, first introduced poinsettias to the United States in 1825 when he brought some cuttings to his plantation in Greenwood, South Carolina. When Poinsett died in 1851, December 12 was declared Nationnal Poinsettia Day, an official day set aside to enjoy this symbol of holiday cheer.
Poinsettias are native to Mexico, where they grow wild. The enchanting legend of the poinsettia dates back several centuries, to a Christmas Eve in Mexico when a little girl named Pepita had no gift to present to the Christ child.
Her cousin Pedro urged her to give a humble gift. So, on her way to church she gathered some weeds she found along the road. As she approached the altar, a miracle happened: The weeds blossomed into brilliant flowers. Then they were called Flores de Noche Buena – Flowers of the Holy Night. Now they are called poinsettias.
Today – Enjoying Your Poinsettia During the Christmas Holiday
Poinsettias are a versatile decorative staple, perfect for use at home on the table or in front of the hearth. At work, poinsettias make beautiful stand-alone decorative accents in long hallways, simply placed on a desk, or filling the foyer with bright red and green. And they are perfect to send home with employees just before the Christmas holiday.
Poinsettias complement almost any holiday decor because of their classic vibrant red and green colors. They can be placed on the floor, on accent tables or on the dining room sidebar. Any interior space that needs just a touch more holiday can be celebrated with a poinsettia or two. Because they are so traditional, we immediately think of the holidays when we see them. And more than 50 million poinsettias are expected to be sold this holiday season!
Inspect the bracts. Bracts are modified leaves and are the colored portion of the poinsettia plant. Bracts should have good color, a mature shape and not have a great deal of green along the edges.
Examine the leaves. Rich, dark green foliage is a sign of health in poinsettia plants. Make sure the leaves are plentiful and are growing down the length of the stem.
Note the size of the pot. The poinsettia should be growing in a container appropriate for the plant. The accepted guideline is that the poinsettia should be approximately 2 1/2 times the diameter of the pot.
Check the soil. Stick your finger in the soil and test the moisture. Avoid plants with soggy soil and appear to be wilting. This could be a sign of over watering and possibly root rot. Poinsettia soil should be moist and only allowed to become dry to a depth of 1/2 inch.
Observe how the poinsettias are being displayed. Be cautious of poinsettia that are displayed in plastic sleeves or crowded together. They need space and crowding can cause the plant to loose bracts.
Evaluate the poinsettia’s general appearance. The poinsettia should appear full from all angles, without bare spots. The stems should be erect and leaves and bracts do not appear wilted. If leaves or bracts fall from the poinsettia when you pick it up, choose another plant.
Keeping Your Family and Pets Safe – The Poinsettia Toxicity Myth
The poinsettia is widely tested as a consumer plant, proving the myth about the popular holiday plant to be false:
Scientific research from The Ohio State University has proved the poinsettia to be non-toxic to both humans and pets. All parts of the plant were tested, including the leaves and sap.
According to POISINDEX, the national information center for poison control centers, a child would have to ingest 500-600 leaves in order to exceed the experimental doses that found no toxicity.
A study from the Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University found that out of 22,793 reported poinsettia exposures there was essentially no toxicity significance of any kind. The study used national data collected by the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
As with any non-food product, however, the poinsettia is not meant to be eaten and can cause varying degrees of discomfort; therefore, the plant should be kept out of the reach of young children and curious pets.
Tomorrow – Poinsettia Care Tips
Poinsettias are long-lasting blooming plants. To keep your poinsettia blooming all year long, follow the care tips listed below:
To keep the poinsettia blooming:
When surface soil is dry to the touch, water thoroughly. Discard excess water in the saucer.
To prolong color, keep a temperature range of 60 degrees for night and 72 degrees for day.
High humidity is preferable.
Place plant away from hot or cold drafts, and protect from cold winds.
To rebloom for the next season:
During winter, continue to follow holiday upkeep tips.
March 1 (St. Patrick’s Day): When bracts fade, cut stems back to eight inches above soil line.
Continue to water regularly.
Lightly fertilize with a balanced all-purpose plant food every three to four weeks.
When temperatures are warm, place plant outdoors; first in indirect, then direct sunlight.
Avoid temperatures below 50 degrees throughout the summer.
July 4 (Independence Day): Cut back new growth stems. Repot if needed.
Early September (Labor Day): Move plant inside. Provide six ormore hours of direct light.
October 1 through December: Confine plant to complete darkness for 14 hours, giving it 10 hours of natural light daily. This will set the buds and cause bracts to color.
While food, family, and football are possibly the three most celebrated traditions of an American Thanksgiving, we’d like to discuss the rich traditions of setting the tone of Thanksgiving with the dinner table itself.
Setting the Thanksgiving Table
If you are serving a more formal Thanksgiving dinner in the dining room, and have the opportunity to put out a full course of dishes, silver, and linen, we offer a reminder to those who normally enjoy a less formal dining experience!
Begin to set your table by placing a freshly ironed white tablecloth, a runner, or placemats. If you wish to use service or charger plates (extra large plates used mostly for decoration and catching spills) place those first around the table, equally spaced. On top of those place the dinner plates, and if you are having a soup course, place the soup dish on top of that.
The general rule for silverware is you put the ones you will use first on the outside of each setting, and you work your way in. To the right of each plate, first place the dinner knife with the blade facing the plate. On its right, place the teaspoon, and further to the right place the soupspoon. Optionally a dessert spoon may be placed horizontally above the plate, pointing to the left.
On the left, place the dessert fork nearest the plate (if there is to be one), then the dinner fork and finally, the salad fork to the left of that. The bottoms of each piece of silverware should line up with the bottom of the dinner plate.
The bread and butter plate is placed directly above the forks, with a butter spreader placed horizontally across the top of the plate, with the tip pointing to the left.
Above the plate and slightly to the right you place the water glass, with a red wine glass to the right of that and a white wine glass to the right of all.
Napkins traditionally are folded and placed to the left of the forks, but alternately you may wish to fold it and place it in the soup bowl or the water glass.
Once the table is set, you’ll need to add a centerpiece or two, depending on the length of the table.
Decorating the Thanksgiving Table
Accessorize a large table by placing a long, narrow centerpiece in the center. Add a few smaller accent pieces or candles on each side of the arrangement for an added effect.
Ask your florist to create a centerpiece in a treasured family vase or bowl, or in seasonal pieces such as a cornucopia or a utility vase surrounded by dry corncobs. You may want to garnish your serving trays with flowers and greens. Scatter colorful fall leaves, flowers and votive candles along the center of your dining table.
You may also want to ask your florist to design the arrangements for your buffet table on several different levels to keep the eye flowing all along the table.
Finally, you may want to place a garland or wreath of fruit, flowers and fall foliage over your front door.