The non-alcoholic, DIY hostess gift for less than $15

My go-to hostess gift has always been wine. It just seems right, if someone is having you over for dinner, to have a nice bottle of red or white meet them at the door.

However, tonight I’m attending a Christmas Wine Tasting. Some friends vacationed earlier this year in Italy, and became hooked on the nicer-than-$12 bottles; now they want to share their love of the “Big Eight.”

I’m excited to finally try wine from the much-talked-about Cupcake Vineyards and eat some frou-frou finger foods, but I was stumped about what to gift our hostess with the mostess. Obviously, one can’t bring wine to a wine party.

I mentally committed to flowers before pricing out some options online. Even without delivery fees, Christmas arrangements can run as much as $70. I love my friends, but not that much.

Then I channeled my mother and decided I could make one myself for way cheaper.

Total cost of my floral project? Less than $15.

I picked up a bag of cranberries at the grocery store for around $1.25, which proved to be solid base to hold everything and (bonus!) hid the ugly stems. Cash-and-carry roses from the florist cost $10. And I snagged a few adornments from the clearance bins at A.C. Moore (the pine cones on floral stems were 25 cents each!).

I had a square vase shoved in a drawer in our kitchen and some raffia left over from wrapping gifts. The greenery came compliments off the bottom of our tree and the holly bushes outside our building (sorry to any neighbors I may have frightened while creeping in the flower beds).

If you’re nervous about making your own floral arrangement, check out
eight basic flower arrangement designs and this helpful how-to.

Obviously there’s no right or wrong way to make an arrangement, but here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Be mindful of your blooms.

      I chose roses because they were readily available at the florist. Special-order buds will cost you. Also, roses are hearty plants and will last longer than a few days in the arrangement.

It’s all about the angles. Chances are your floral arrangement won’t be shoved in a corner or up against a wall. Make sure it looks good from all sides.

Use what you have. I saved a ton of money by using greenery I had around the house. The local florist was selling pine sprigs for $5 a bunch. It also helped that I had a vase, but think outside the box and use what you have at home or can find in the clearance section to hold your arrangement.

Have fun. The secret to any good-looking floral arrangement is that it looks like a lot of time and effort went into it. Don’t be afraid to play around with your design or start over if at first you don’t succeed. Besides, the thought of all the money you’re saving should put a smile on your face!

April Trotter

Editor of Smart. NEPA transplant. Penn State and Shippensburg grad. Kickball and craft beer enthusiast. Collector of cardigans. "Bennie and the Jets" fanatic. Contact me at atrotter@ydr.com, at "Smart magazine" on Facebook, @SmartMagPA on Twitter or by phone at 717-771-2030.

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