Holiday floral arranging is a lot easier than you think!
There's just something about gorgeous floral arrangements in your home during the holiday season. They can really spruce up any space, and the great thing is, when it comes to creating them at home, there is no right or wrong way—it's really just about trusting your creative eye.
Viral floral artist, Rob Gooljar of Iris blossom, has been blessing our social media feeds over the last few years with some of the most jaw-dropping creations around. Based in Charlotte, NC, Gooljar and his business partner, Becca Whittier, have designed larger-than-life pieces not only for local residents and weddings, but also corporate giants like Bank of America and Lowe's.
For the Trinidadian designer, his love for arranging started as a form of therapy during the height of the pandemic.
"We like to do things outside the box," Gooljar told EBONY. "As a bespoke floral design studio, we focus more on modern floral art, which means that it's artistry with flowers as the medium. I'm finishing my PhD at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and a lot of the work I do can be mentally taxing. I found flowers to be a nice way to express my creativity, and they are also therapeutic for me. So, now that outlet has blossomed into a very successful business."
Gooljar has found that when it comes to designing your holiday arrangements, it's really about just having fun. He's done everything from designing entire costumes for Trinidad's Carnival with flowers, to setting up pop-up flower bombs around the city of Charlotte. And while his creations may seem complicated to the everyday person, he emphasizes that anyone can make stunning floral art at home with these tips—especially during the holiday season.
Figure out your floral palette
Gooljar suggests looking for flowers that speak to you, whether it's the colors or the shape. You should aim to tell a story with the flowers that you are picking. "Our designs are based on words that clients give us about the recipient. But if you're doing this for your home, look for the flowers that tell you something. You may see a really interesting shape and want to take that up a notch with something that has a contrasting shape. The same can go for colors that stand out to you, too."
A few flower types that he enjoys working with are garden roses because of the high petal count, tropical florals like proteas and pincushions, and bearded irises that are great for adding height to your arrangements. For your holiday arrangements, a few gorgeous varieties and additions that are in-season for winter include, parrot or red tulips, hypericum berries, birch branches for height and wax flower, which pairs beautifully with red roses.
"Use muted colors and pops of bright ones for an unconventional take on holiday florals. For Christmas, I’d get away from the traditional red and green, and instead add blues and whites with evergreens or other winter foliage or muted earth tones with green. You could also use darker shades of red and burgundy."
Preparation and maintenance are key for your arrangements staying fresh
First and foremost, you should always use clean instruments when cutting your flowers. Use a designated kitchen knife or flower shears so that you are not passing bacteria to your stems. Also, strip the stems of any leaves that would fall below the water line in your vase, this can also pass bacteria to your water and cause your floral arrangements to die out quicker. Cut stems at a 45-degree angle so that you increase the stem's surface area, which allows your flowers to pull in more water.
"There are so many tips out there on social media like putting bleach or lemon juice in the water, but you do not need to do that," he said. "You just need to refresh your water daily, and that should be enough to keep your flowers fresh. Ideally, you want to empty your vase and start new, but if you're unable to fully empty, pour some of the water off the top, and refresh that at the very least."
Variety is the spice of life
"We love to mix things that you may not see in typical floral arrangements here at Iris blossom. Mixing flowers of different sizes, or using single-bud flowers with those with multiple buds, adds dimension and texture to your arrangements. Just use your creative eye. We often try to go off of things that we see from others, but if you trust your gut, it's always going to make the best arrangement."
Another unique design tip is to leave some negative space between your flowers. It draws your guests eyes to the space around the gap, thus making the arrangement more visually appealing. To help keep your flowers in place, Gooljar says using tools like chicken wire can help you better form your holiday floral creations. Simply place the wire at the mouth of your vase and insert the stems between the wire openings. Also, using wider-mouthed vases allows more room to get creative with your holiday arrangements.