Natural birch branches form the backbone of this project (but you could use redtwig dogwood or other branches). For added drama, cut the branches longer so they're taller than your banister, or include more bunches. Use thin florist's wire to lash them to the banister posts along with evergreens (in this case, noble fir) and twigs of bright red winterberries. Matte and glossy chartreuse ornaments add another dimension. Tie it all back with a velvet chartreuse ribbon. Making a bow is optional.
Bring a woodland scene inside. Gather bare branches from the garden, and arrange them in a narrow glass vase filled with artificial snow. More “snow” (cotton tufts) drifts on branches. Cardinals alight as if to gather the bright berries that we cut from faux sprays and wired on. Give the birds another landing spot with a nest on the sill.
Resources Glass vase, faux snow and faux berries Michaels Crafts Stores (800) 642-4235; michaels.com 
Use a wooden box to serve as a centerpiece. Fill the base with dry floral foam, then tuck mixed evergreens throughout. Attach citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and limes, to floral picks, and tuck them into the greenery. For the clove patterns, use a pencil to draw spirals or other designs on an orange, then poke whole cloves into the skin at evenly spaced points.
Make a charming winter scene inside a glass bowl using faux snow, spruce or fir spigs, and props such as artificial birds and a nest (from crafts stores), along with mini ornaments.
Nestle special “ingredients” inside ball ornaments for thoughtful, budget-friendly party favors or decorations. You can use wintry natural materials like we did, or let your imagination fly.
What you’ll need
Plastic ball ornaments (We found ours at Hobby Lobby for $1.49 each.)
Pine tree clippings
Place items inside one ornament half. (Leave them loose, or secure with a dot of hot glue.) Top with the other half, string with ribbon, and presto, you’re done!
Wrap wide green ribbon in bands around a square vase, then fill with decorated winterberry branches. Simple red votives with white candles provide a glow at a safe distance.
If you have a hanging light fixture or chandelier, attach white-tipped pinecones with slender wire or fishing line for a wintery look.
Layer pinecones, rose hips, dried pomegranates, sweetgum pods and moss for this easy look.
Tip Use materials from your garden first, then accent with others shown here (available at crafts stores or through your local florist).
Accordion-fold lengths of ¼- to 1-1/2-inch-wide ribbon, then tie tightly at the center with ribbon or floral wire. Snip along the folds with scissors, fan out and wire each to an evergreen wreath.
An easy centerpiece starts with a bowl of fruit. Add tabletop flair to apples by inserting bronze brads (available at crafts stores) in a variety of patterns.
Surround lanterns with fresh greenery and pine cones for a classic, elegant centerpiece.
Vases of Red: Carry a theme throughout your decor by using variations of similar materials. We filled clear glass vases of varying shapes and sizes with red flowers and berries, using only one type per vase: amaryllis, winterberry or tulips. The winterberry branches are strong enough to support a few small ornaments.
Fresh Garland: For an alternative to evergreens, make garlands from fresh bells of Ireland. Cut 1-inch sections of the stalks, which have green florets. The hollow stalks are the tubes through which you thread string or yarn. Fresh florets last about a day. When dry, push flowers together.
These cute packages take time, but they're easy to make. Cut a block of floral foam into the size you wish. Cut the heads off chartreuse 'Kermit' button mums. Stick a pearl-headed pin through the center of each flower to secure it to the foam. Wrap red velvet ribbon around the finished package, or just add a bow on top. The flowers stay fresh for about three days.
For the cool blue walls and white hutch, we used chartreuse and dropped traditional reds in favor of white, brown and soft purple. The tabletop holds a long hedge of hydrangeas, white amaryllis, purple statice, mixed evergreens, fresh pears and white-tipped pinecones, all tucked into moistened floral foam placed on a low tray. The hedge in the hutch uses statice with a line of hydrangeas and white-tipped pinecones at the base.
Wrap candles with fat velvet ribbon attached with pearl-headed pins; place them at each seat. See the previous slide for how this look fits into a nature-theme place setting, with white-tipped pinecones atop napkins and tiny crystal vases holding single sprigs of hydrangea.
Why let your garden urns sit vacant all winter? Cut or buy a floral foam cone to stack on top of the urn. Slice the point off the cone to make a flat base where you'll attach the pineapple later. Building from the bottom up, attach evergreens by tucking the twig ends into the foam. Near the base, use floral picks to attach a row of oranges decorated with cloves. Halfway up the cone, attach pomegranates using floral picks. A row of orange halves runs three-quarters of the way up, with pinecones forming a base for a whole pineapple attached with floral picks.
The first 10 creations in this slideshow, including this tower, were a collaboration between Midwest Living and Botanicals Inc.  in Chicago.
Have a pair of winter boots you don't wear? Dress them up with twigs, greens and ribbon for a welcoming display.
To protect boots, line with plastic bags. Add rocks in the foot to keep the boots from tipping. Insert twigs and small evergreen branches. Tie ribbon around each boot, tucking a sprig of evergreen in the bow.
Wreaths with fresh fruit are an American colonial tradition.
Use a 12-inch metal ring for a base, 18 to 20 kumquats, several sprigs of medium-size broadleaf greens and 26-gauge wire to attach the fruit and leaves.
For a fragrant chair-back decoration, bundle bay leaf, thyme, rosemary and marjoram with twine. Bouquets can be made several days in advance, then refrigerated. Once dry, use them for cooking!
Create a fluid floral centerpiece with a 17-inch-wide glass bowl and flowers in floating glass tea-light holders.
Add your own touch to an evergreen wreath by crafting pieces of "candy" from felt or other material you have at home. Tie with red twine or ribbon.
Green apples are the perfect hue for an easy Christmas display. Fill a glass jar with apples; mix in loose greens for a wintry feel. Place container on a beveled edge mirror (that serves as a table runner). Fill in with additional greens, ball ornaments and candles of different sizes.
For quick holiday color, surround a cranberry-color candle inside a glass cylinder with fresh cranberries. Add a few sparkly ornaments around the base, and you’re done!
For easy elegance, showcase oversize pinecones, bird figurines and ornaments under cloches. A dusting of faux snow adds wintry sparkle.
Stems with just a few leaves or berries make natural holders for family photographs. Tie branches with twine and add evergreen tassels; insert photos in the branches, clipping them on if needed to hold in place.
Who says wreaths must be round? Cut floral foam to a size that will fit inside a window in a door or entryway. Completely cover the foam with preserved green hydrangea blooms. Decorate with sprigs of winterberries. A coordinating green ribbon helps hang it up.
Wintry white tulips lend a soft touch to this natural holiday centerpiece. Fill varying sizes of glassware with fresh flowers, and arrange around metallic-sprayed pinecones and silvery ornaments.
A bundle of brown twigs makes a great hanging decoration to put on a door or above a mantel. To secure, wrap a wide rubber band around twig ends. Tuck one branch of greens, such as eucalyptus, inside the rubber band for color. Cover the rubber band with a ribbon.
Create your own customized flower composition by covering coffee cans with wrapping paper and embellishing them with ribbon. Fill with inexpensive white carnations and baby's breath, plus evergreens cut from your yard.
Freeze cranberries in just enough water to cover them; add pieces to your ice bucket.
Place pillar candles, evergreen branches, pinecones and clementines on a beveled-edge mirror for a nature-inspired tabletop arrangement. Don't like orange? Bring in green pears or red apples for traditional holiday color.
Place paperwhites in a large compote or bowl. Cover the potting soil with mini ball ornaments in colors that coordinate with your holiday scheme.
Turn a shallow basket or tray into a fun arrangement for your dining or coffee table. We arranged rows of feathery moss, smooth stones, green apples and spiky pinecones, but use what's easily available to you: other fruits or vegetables, ornaments or bits of nature.