Our Favorite Christmas Movies

One favorite tradition of many families during the holiday season is to set back, pop some popcorn, and watch those great Christmas movies.  There’s something magical about these films, and they can often put us in the holiday mood when nothing else can.  Here are some of the best Christmas movies (including TV specials).

It’s a Wonderful Life – the classic Christmas movie.

A Christmas Carol – there are a number of different versions of this Dickens classic, including one featuring Kermit the Frog and his Muppet friends and one starring Bugs Bunny.

Die Hard – If you want a little more action-adventure in your Christmas movie.

White Christmas – Nobody does it like Bing!

Elf – a great comedic Christmas movie.

Hogfather – the BBC adaptation of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novel is a great holiday movie for fantasy fans.

Miracle on 34th Street – another holiday classic.

Animated Specials

A Charlie Brown Christmas – everyone knows that scene where the gang decorates their pitiful little Christmas tree.

Frosty the Snowman – and everyone knows the lyrics to this show’s theme song!

How the Grinch Stole Christmas – who doesn’t love to hate the Grinch?

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer – they just don’t seem to make specials quite like this stop-motion classic these days.

Television Series Specials

Many different television shows have Christmas specials or episodes dedicated to Christmas.  Here are some popular series with Christmas episodes:

Bones
NCIS
Pysch
House
Eureka
Community
Glee
The Big Bang Theory

Have you orders your Christmas flowers in Washington, DC, yet?

Have a Very Merry Christmas

Christmas is this weekend!  Are you ready?  Well, whether you are or not, it’s here!  So bake those cookies, put the Christmas goose (or turkey or ham) in the oven, and finish wrapping all your gifts.

Christmas may seem like one of those times where, after so much preparation and work, the actual day falls flat.  After all, it’s just one day, and it can be over with very quickly.  Even if you do a lot on Christmas Eve and then spend all of Christmas Day with family, it’s still just a short 48 hour period.  However, it can be a great two days, especially if you get to visit with relatives you don’t see often.

You might also find that those perfect gifts you spent hours shopping for don’t quite go over as well as you hoped.  Don’t let this get you down.  Remember that it’s the thought that truly counts, and even if people don’t seem as excited as you’d hoped they’d be, they still appreciate the fact that you got them something.  Keep this in mind, too, for when you open a gift that doesn’t really excite you.

No matter how quickly or slowly the holiday season has gone, remember the reason we gather: to be together with those we love.  We might see them on a daily basis, we might only see them at Christmas, but no matter what, spending the day with them is amazing.  Enjoy the great food, the fun conversation, and the spirit of the holidays!  Have a very Merry Christmas from all of us here at MyFlorist!

Gift Giving Suggestions and Tips

Tis the season to be jolly…and to do a lot of shopping.  While some people don’t get into the gift-giving that comes with the holiday season, many people do at least exchange small trinkets.  However, there’s a certain amount of stress that goes with giving gifts, especially if you don’t know what to buy a person or are on a limited budget.  However, there are a few ways you can make your Christmas gift giving a little easier.

•    Make a list of everyone you’re buying gifts for, what your budget is, and what you’re going to get them, if you know.  This will help ensure you don’t spend way more than you were planning, and it will also help save you time.  You won’t be wondering aimlessly around the mall looking at things—you’ll have a plan!

•    Shop early if possible.  Waiting until the last minute means dealing with crowds and facing the possibility of not finding what you want.

•    Shopping online also makes the holiday season less of a pain.  However, again it’s very important to shop early.  Otherwise, you may have to either pay for fast shipping or wait until after Christmas to give your gift.

•    If you have family or friends spread across the country, it’s usually convenient to send a Christmas centerpiece with flowers, a poinsettia, or even a fresh, decorated Christmas wreath from a local florist.  In the DC Metro areas, check out MyFlorist’s Christmas flowers, centerpieces and poinsettias.

•    Don’t be afraid to ask someone for gift ideas.  It’s better that you ask than get them something they already have or don’t need.

•    Keep all your receipts just in case, especially when buying electronics (something may be defective), fragile items (things can get broken while being shelved in the store), and clothing (not all brands are sized the same).

•    Food is always a good gift, especially if you know what someone likes.  Desserts, cheese, and candy are hard to beat.  Be certain the person doesn’t have a medical condition and needs to avoid certain food, of course.  A bottle of wine is also a good gift for some people.

•    Gift cards aren’t always a bad idea, and they aren’t always seen as impersonal.  For those who often eat out, a gift card to a restaurant would be appreciated.  College students might enjoy a gift card to Starbucks.  Instead of guessing what books someone might want, get them a gift card to a bookstore.

•    You don’t have to buy all of your gifts.  If you knit or crochet, make someone a hat, scarf, or blanket.  Scrapbooks are great gifts, too, as are original pieces of art.  Get creative!  Sometimes, in fact, handmade gifts are much more personal and touching than something bought at a store.

The Spirit of Christmas

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What is the spirit of Christmas?
What is the spirit of Christmas?

nd this time of year, many people start talking about the spirit of Christmas.  But while it’s talked about often in a general sense, few people really take the time to define what the spirit of Christmas really is.  We’re just expected to know, it seems like.  What does it mean to have the Christmas spirit?

One of the reasons the spirit of Christmas is so hard to define is because it’s a very personal thing.  Ask ten people what they believe the spirit of Christmas is and you’ll get at least a dozen different answers.  Of course, saying that the Christmas spirit is something you have to discover for yourself is something of a cop-out.  Here are a few ideas as to what the spirit of Christmas is all about.

For some, it’s all about being with friends and family.  This is especially true for those who live far from their family and rarely see them.  Gathering with their relatives, exchanging gifts, eating great food, and just being together fills their hearts with love and joy.  You don’t have to live far from your family for this to be your Christmas spirit.  In fact, you might live with several of your family members and still make them the central part of Christmas.

For others, the spirit of Christmas is religious.  They find their happiness in attending a Christmas church service and in sharing in the spirit of their religion with others.  This sharing and feeling of community is very important, especially to those who may not have close family or friends. 

Another meaning of the spirit of Christmas is in giving to those who are in need.  Helping out at a soup kitchen on Christmas Day, donating warm clothing to the homeless, or even giving a few dollars to one of the Salvation Army bell ringers who stand outside the mall gives some people that warm, happy feeling often associated with the spirit of Christmas. 

These are just three possible things that the spirit of Christmas can be.  They may not be what you consider the Christmas spirit, and that’s certainly OK.  However, it may give your holiday season a little more meaning if you take a few minutes and consider what the spirit of Christmas is to you.

The Poinsettia Tradition Continues

A Christmas Tradition: Poinsettias
A Christmas Tradition: Poinsettias

Christmas has a number of traditions: trimming the tree, singing carols, and looking at amazing light displays are just a few of them.  When it comes to flowers, traditionally at Christmas time we see a lot of poinsettias.  Of course, that tradition will continue with Christmas 2010 (and, of course, MyFlorist is standing by to handle all of your poinsettia needs!).

But where did this Christmas tradition come from?  It appears that the poinsettia originated in South and Central America and was a favorite flower of the Aztecs.  It later became associated with Christmas in Mexican culture due to its bright red color.  In the early 1800s, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett, saw the flowers on a Christmas altar and asked to take some poinsettia seeds back home with him.  He then grew poinsettias for local churches to use on Christmas.  Soon, the tradition spread. 

The name of the ambassador and the flower are indeed connected.  When he first started passing around flowers, people referred to them as Poinsett’s plants, which later was shortened to poinsettia.

 

 

Holiday Fun in DC

Christmas in DC
Christmas in DC

Are you looking for some activities in the Washington, DC, area this holiday season?  If so, here are some of the best events for the entire family.

The first thing to do this holiday season is, of course, to visit the National Christmas Tree and Pathway of Peace.  This is one of the most amazing trees in the area, and it is lit up from dusk until 11:00 p.m. every day of December.  What’s more, there’s a different musical group playing in the area each evening.

You can also attend the lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah on the White House grounds.  Each night of Hanukkah, one of the eight large candles is lit.  In addition to the lighting ceremony, live musical performances and traditional Hanukkah snacks like latke are served.

If you want to do a little walking, you might be interested in taking a candlelight tour.  These tours give you a chance to get outdoors and enjoy the holiday decorations of different historic homes.  Some museums also offer tours.  There are a number of these candlelight tours in DC, Virginia, and Maryland, and many feature music and snacks in addition to the beautiful sights.

If that sounds too cold for you, stay inside and watch the holiday favorite, the Nutcracker.  Several different ballet companies will be performing the Nutcracker.  You can watch the classic story of Clara and her prince at the Kennedy Center, the Warner Theatre, or the Momentum Dance Theatre.

Another neat event is to see a holiday model train exhibit.  These cool miniature recreations of snow-covered towns and villages can be found in several places in the area.  There’s the Union Station Norwegian Model Train Display, the Holiday Magic display at the United States Botanic Garden, and there are a few model trains at the National Christmas Tree and Pathway of Peace.

Go Green for a Red-Hot Holiday Season

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.

Dreaming of ChristmasRebecca’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.

Gift of Roses  | TFWEB263Holiday Soirees

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.

©SAF All Rights Reserved

Top 5 Reasons to Send Flowers for the Holidays

24 Karat Bouquet | 08N940B
24 Karat Bouquet | 08N940B

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Shopping for flowers is time-saving.  See #1.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Exerpts from:  Flowers: The perfect gift at any price
By Cari Noga • Bankrate.com  • Cari is a freelance writer in Michigan.

Christmas Poinsettias – Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow

Red Poinsettia - TF103-1
Red Poinsettia - TF103-1

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!

Choosing Your Poinsettia: (Or let your florist choose a healthy poinsettia for you!)

  • 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.

MyFlorist is a proud provider of poinsettias and holiday flowers in the Washington DC Metro.   Deck the halls, decorators!