Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year's Customs

Happy New Year from our family to yours!
In the US we watch the ball drop on Times Square, drink too much champagne, kiss everyone within sight at midnight, vow to do better next year, then go home and sleep until noon.

What strange and wacky customs do others participate in?

In the southern United States, it is customary to eat black eyed peas on New Years Day.  If you do so, this is supposed to bring good luck for the entire year.  People who eat cabbage on NYD do so because it is supposed to bring prosperity.  So there you have it--your New Years Day menu should be black eyed peas and cabbage in order to bring good luck and money in 2016.  Hmm....

Another food custom has to do with eating circle-shaped foods, which is supposed to reflect on the continuity of life.  This is one we can get down with, because three things immediately come to mind: bagels, donuts and Liefsavers.  Not a very balanced meal, but definitely yummier than black eyed peas and cabbage!

It is also said you should not take anything in or out of the house on New Years Day.  Some people take this so seriously that they even take the trash out the night before.  Others cavalierly dismiss this as they sail out the door with unwanted Christmas gifts to return for cash.

Don't lend money or pay off loans on NYD or you will be paying all year long.  Don't cry on NYD or you will have a long, sad year.

In Great Britain, people eagerly await the 'First Footer'--the first person across the threshold of their home on New Years Day.  If he is a tall, dark-haired and handsome stranger, it is said to bring good luck all year.  Think of how sad it would be if someone knocked and it was just your pudgy, bald Uncle Ernie. Sigh.

Filipino customs say that noise scares away evil beings, so they yell and clap hands and bang on pots at midnight.  Perhaps that is where we get the custom of using noisemakers.  And here we thought it was just to annoy everyone within earshot...

In Spain, when the clock strikes midnight, people eat 12 grapes which is supposed to bring good luck.  Not sure if a glass of wine counts as 12 grapes, but what the heck...

In Brazil, most people wear white for New Years celebrations, as it is said to be lucky.  Not so lucky in the US, where it is considered gauche to wear white after Labor Day.

Puerto Ricans toss a cup of cold water out the window at midnight, which is also supposed to bring good fortune throughout the year.  Unless, of course, your litigious neighbor is walking under said window when the water is tossed. 

No matter how you celebrate the New Year, why not start by making the resolution to have pretty flowers around you all year long?  Check out our new arrangements at www.cactusflower.com

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Centerpieces Set the Table

Yes, there's less than two weeks until the big day, but it's time to start thinking about centerpieces for your holiday table.  And there's a lot to consider:

*SIZE  A 'small' centerpiece is one that would be suitable for a table that seats four to six people; a 'medium' is suitable for a table that seats 6 to 12 people and 'large' is for one that seats 12-16 guests.  In order to see over the piece, it should be no taller than 12-14" tall--not including candles.  Imagine your holiday table with all the place settings, and measure what you'd like in the center.  When placing the order, let the customer service rep know the measurements and we will build to your specs.

*STYLE  If your table is round, select a round or oval piece.  A square table is also suitable for a round piece, while a rectangular table needs a piece that is also rectangular in shape, that is, longer than it is wide.

*DESIGN  There's a plethora of flowers and accoutrements to choose from.  Traditional would be pine with red and white flowers, but our designers can accomodate any color scheme, whether it is elegant whites, joyous jewel tones, or any other combination you can think of!  Tell our customer service rep if you've got a specific holiday theme or linens you want to coordinate with, and we'll come up with the absolutely perfect idea.

*ADD-ONS--candles or no candles? Pine cones or little glass balls?  Bow or no bow?

Other centerpiece tips:

In lieu of a traditional centerpiece,  line up several cube or rose bowl vases with flowers designed pave (short, fat and close to the vase) in the center of the table.  Have them created all the same, or switch the flowers/colors up for visual appeal.  Best of all, these arrangements can act as favors.  Let each couple take one home after the party.

If your measurements are off, don't despair.  To make a centerpiece appear larger than it is, use a table runner of similar color to pull the eye down the table.  Another trick is to scatter confetti lengthwise, place springs of pine down the center, or flank the centerpiece with crystal or silver candle holders, which directs the eye up and over.

Still need fresh ideas?  Check out our gorgeous holiday inspired arrangements.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Poinsettia Power

No flower or plant heralds the season as much as the poinsettia, with its colorful bracts and luscious showiness.  You might be surprised to learn that the glorious poinsettia is actually a weed!  It was discovered in Mexico in the early 1800s by a man named Joel Roberts Poinsett, who was the first US Ambassador to Mexico.  He also helped found the Smithsonian Institute, but is best known for the gorgeous plant (weed?) that bears his name.

Our next door neighbor, California, grows about 6,000,000 points every year.  And while it feels like we go through half of that amount ourselves every Christmas at Cactus Flower Florists, that's probably an exaggeration!  However, it does mean that our points are freshy-fresh and perfect for the holidays.

One of the most frequent questions we get here is how to care for a poinsettia.  Follow these tips to keep yours looking great all month long:

*Do not place the plant where it will receive hot or cold extremes.  Keep away from vents, fireplaces and outer doors that allow cold drafts inside.
*Do not place in direct sunlight.
*The plants prefer cool (65-70 degrees) rooms.
*Keep the soil damp, not wet.  Make sure excess drains out when watering, and do not allow the plant to sit in water.
*Take care when handling.  The top-heavy, showy bracts damage easily.  It's best to find a good spot in your home and leave it there!

Another question we hear again and again is : "Can I keep this so that it can rebloom next winter?" The answer to this is "maybe".  It's much easier to rebloom in a climate that experiences all four seasons, but if you are diligent, there's no reason why it can't work in the desert:

* After the holidays are over, keep in a cool (45-50 degrees) brightly lit location.  Since most of us do not keep our homes that cool, and since most of us don't have basements, the best spot would be in an unheated garage that has a window.
*If you have such a location, and the plant makes it through the winter, cut it back to about 3 to 4 inches in the early spring.  Repot in fresh soil and move it to an area with strong (but not direct) sunlight.  As new growth appears, cut back the tips, which will cause the plant to progress in a bushy (rather than spindly) manner.
*If the point makes until next fall, congratulations! Starting in early October, keep the plant in a cool dark room from 5pm until 8am.  This creates a short day for the plant, which gives it the signal to throw off the showy bracts.  With diligence and luck, it will start blooming again early-mid December.