One of my very favorite holiday traditions is decorating the dining room at our cottage for Canadian Thanksgiving. It’s our most festive room out of all the holidays and a long-standing tradition in the Mersky family. The best part is that it costs $0 because we forage everything from outside. I wanted to share this tradition on my blog because I think it’s a very easy, fun, and creative way for a family to bond and work on something together over the holidays (even my 2-year-old nephew got involved this year). I know American Thanksgiving is coming up, but I think this idea could be adapted for Christmas decorations as well. All you need are many helping hands, some baskets to gather, shears and pruning tools, and possibly a saw if you really want to get serious! (We used a saw one year, but this year the garden shears sufficed)
When foraging for decorations outdoors, the number one rule to go by comes from Dolly Parton – “more is more, less is a bore”. When you think you have enough, double it! Trust me it makes all the difference – you’ll be amazed at how many corners and crevices need to be filled in with flowers, pinecones, or leaf bunches, and how much better the room will look because of it. For this type of project, it really is the little details that make the biggest difference.
The second rule to go by is to never take too much from one place. I’ll never take more than two branches from the same tree, and make sure to space out where I’m foraging so that I don’t decimate a single area. The only exception to this is the annual flowers we plant each year – obviously, these aren’t going to grow back after the first frost, and Thanksgiving weekend is our last time up at the cottage before we close for the winter, so I pick all the flowers left to decorate. This leads to me another great aspect of this tradition – each year the decorations will slightly differ depending on the weather. For example this year, we had very mild autumn which meant there was an abundance of flowers compared to previous years. We ended up with a particularly floral Thanksgiving room this year and I loved it!
My one big tip is that when cutting branches, flowers, vines, etc., it’s best to leave them as long as possible and trim them afterward. This helps when hanging things up. In past years we’ve made use of twine and hooks, but this year we were able to hang everything up without using any twine because we left things long enough that we could wrap them around rafters, chandeliers, cabinets, etc.
Some examples of things we gather are branches with autumn leaves attached, white birch logs, allll the flowers, vines, moss, pinecones, and fallen leaves. We never go in with much of a plan and instead just lay everything out on the table that we’ve foraged and start decorating. Other than the two rules I mentioned – more is more, and don’t take everything from one tree, plant, or place – there are no rules. Just have fun and go crazy, and you’ll be amazed at the magic you create!