Michael Putnam at his Southern Californian home, December 2020. Image courtesy of Michael and Darroch Putnam's Instagram
Michael Putnam at his Southern Californian home, December 2020. Image courtesy of Michael and Darroch Putnam's Instagram

Holiday decor tips, 2020 style, from the Putnams

The A-list floral designers know just how to get your place looking extra Christmassy to round out a tough year

How do you make it begin to feel a lot like Christmas? Some households are scaling back their seasonal decor, to reflect the drop in social activity. Others however, advocate a ramping up of advent decor, to boost an otherwise lacklustre December.

You can probably guess which group the Phaidon authors and A-list floral designers Michael and Darroch Putnam fall into. In a recent New York Times feature entitled ‘Decorating for the Holidays in a Gloomy Year,’ the Putnams share a few progressive, contemporary decor tips for the end of 2020. 

Michael runs readers through the right way to make wreaths. He advocates “silvery green” branches and fronds, such as those you would find on juniper bushes and cypress trees. “Juniper branches are one of my favorites when they have that silver berry,” he tells the paper. “It adds an overlay of texture to everything.”

 

A Christmas display at the Putnams' Southern California home. Image courtesy of their Instagram
A Christmas display at the Putnams' Southern California home. Image courtesy of their Instagram

Cut each length to around 18 inches (46cm) and bind one to the other in a circular fashion, with wire. “You start the wire at the end of one piece and just slowly work your way down, wiring the branches together continuously and layering one branch on top of the other,” he explains.

Don’t worry about getting things too neat – “I love when it’s not perfect, and it’s a little wild and crazy,” he says – and maybe introduce a few citrus accents, with arrangements of dried fruit, or reminders of Christmases gone by, with candles held in mismatched candlesticks or hurricane lamps. “Candles are everything — nothing beats candlelight”, says Michael. 

Of course, not every setting suits a wintery display, and, in a new Instagram post, Michael and Darroch Putnam put together an arrangement at their sunny new SoCal home, using blooms and stems from their new flower box delivery service. The couple leaf through a copy of their forthcoming book, Flower Color Theory, before setting up an arrangement, and sharing a few industry secrets, such as pulling out the petals from a fresh, new rose, to open it up. “That’s a pro tip,” says Darroch. 

 

Signed copies of Flower Color Theory are available in the store
Signed copies of Flower Color Theory are available in the store

For more of those pro tips, get a copy of Flower Color Theory. The follow-up to Darroch and Michael’s acclaimed debut, Flower Color Guide, Flower Color Theory is the only floral book that uses color theory as inspiration for flower arrangements. The book features 175 arrangements that show myriad ways to combine flowers of different hues. Find out more in our store.