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From tree scraps to tablescapes, recycling tree trimmings into holiday centerpieces

After dragging the big evergreen tree into the house, setting it upright in the stand, and trimming any too-long branches, don’t throw those precious scraps out just yet.  

Tree trimmings can easily be repurposed into additional holiday decorations, explained Tyler Cotterman, co-owner of Wright Flowers in West Lafayette and a Purdue Agriculture alumnus. Each year, Cotterman crafts tablescapes and holiday inspired centerpieces, utilizing trimmings from various evergreen varieties along with themed decorations. 

At Wright Flowers, customers can find pine, cedar and cypress clippings to choose from, but working with what you’re able to snip from your own tree or ones in your yard will do just fine for creating your own tablescape, he said. Placing the large pieces in opposite directions creates a base for the tablescape, allowing the smaller pieces to become fillers that can be placed among balder spots. Wiring the pieces together isn’t necessary, Cotterman said, as loose placement is typically desired for tablescapes.  

From here, it’s all about what you have available to decorate with and how creative you’re feeling. 

“You can go as big and grand, or as small and simple as you want with this,” Cotterman said. “You can stick to a theme, like if you’re decorating for a kids table and utilizing little toys, or you could simply use extra ornaments that didn’t make it onto your tree.” 

Any decorations used in the tablescape should be non-fragile, Cotterman advised, knowing there is always a chance for a runaway ornament off the table. Keeping the centerpiece and decorations free from being wired or glued together will help keep it fresh throughout the holiday season. 

“Most people are putting their trees up now or already have, which means most people are a few weeks out from needing the tablescape centerpiece,” he said. “The greenery needs to be kept cool until its ready to be displayed, and you can place them stem-deep into some water like you would your tree.” 

Creating a centerpiece for your table should be kept stress-free, Cotterman said, with little pressure on perfection. 

“When creating something like this, we’re simply utilizing some empty space with some things we already have at hand,” he said. “Have as much fun as you can with it.” 

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