Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Posh Purpose: Styling a Bud Vase

In yesterday's post on How to Host: Holiday Potluck, I told y'all I made five small flower arrangements using two thrift store bud vases, two promotional glasses that came with some lemoncello I purchased at Christmas, and an old candle jar.  Here's a tutorial on how I made my bud vase arrangements:

- 4 bud vases and one smaller, short container for flowers that don't have very long stems or ones that are broken off.  An old jelly jar or candle jar would be perfect, just scrub off any non-attractive labeling (i.e. nutritional information).
- Scissors for cutting and trimming flowers (I just used some regular office scissors)
- 3 types of flowers - all small to medium sized blooms (one fluffy medium sized, one fluffy small sized, and one non-fluffy bloom)

For the flowers, I went over to Safeway and picked up one bunch of lavender pom poms (fluffy medium sized), pink and white mini-carnations (fluffy small sized), and yellow tulips (non-fluffy bloom).  The pom poms were the base for the flowers and the carnations and tulips were used as accents and fillers.  Although I love big flowers, you are going to have more trouble arranging large bloom flowers in a bud vase because (1) if it's a hydrangea for instance, it's going to take up the entire vase and (2) the weight of the flower might cause the vase to actually tip over.  

You can pick flowers that work with your color scheme in your dining or living room, the theme (i.e. pastels for spring), have lots of contrast (like my arrangements), and you can never go wrong with all white.  Also, look for flowers that will give you the most bang for your buck.  I believe the huge bunch of pom poms was $4.99.  Although I could have bought a ton of mini carnations at about $2 each, they don't have as much volume as the pom poms.  The tulips were the most expensive at 10 stems for $5.99, but they are my favorite flower and I love the contrast with the other two colors. 

Since our event wasn't until Sunday, I bought my flowers on a Friday and made sure to look for carnations and tulips that were still mostly closed.  I wanted to arrange them ahead of time because I found out that Safeway's last shipment of flowers for the week comes on Fridays and since it was Easter, I worried about them selling out of the best looking flowers if I waited until Saturday night.  Ask your florist when their shipments come in so you can always get the best selection, but try not to buy them more than 48 hours in advance of the event.  Also, make sure to arrange them immediately so that the flowers have time to open up and don't get dehydrated.

Beautiful blooms and my two lemoncello glasses to the right

I followed similar steps that I described in my post on styling low flower arrangements.  Start by putting some powdered plant food in each container (flowers usually have a packet attached to each bunch, but you can also ask the floral department for a packet or two if you don't see any attached), but hold off adding water until the end.  Water is much easier to put in than trying to sprinkle the food packet into a vase once the flowers are in it.

I cut the flowers down to fit the depth of the vases and stripped them of all their leaves (leaves below the water line make for short lived flowers and really yucky cloudy water).  For bud vases, it's nice for the flowers to have different heights, so don't cut everything the same length.  Start with your fluffiest flowers first, in my case - pom poms, and divvy them among your four bud vases so that they all appear to have the same amount of flowers.  Obviously some flowers will have bigger blooms, so just counting them out evenly won't work in this situation.  Next, layer in your smaller fluffy flower, I used mini carnations, to start filling in gaps.  Finally, use your non-fluffy flower to add pops of color or extra interest to your arrangement and fill in any final gaps, I used tulips.  Arrange the flowers so the center of the arrangement is the tallest point and it gradually gets shorter on the sides.  For example, you wouldn't want a really tall flower positioned on the wall of the bud vase because the arrangement will look lopsided.  Save tall blooms for the center.  You will probably wind up with flowers too short to fit in your bud vases, so arrange them in your small jelly jar or candle container for a really low arrangement.  This is a really easy way to get one more arrangement and since it is so small, it doesn't take any real skill to arrange it.  For our holiday potluck, I put mine in the bathroom.

Not only do I arrange flowers, I also fold laundry...and then leave it in the background of my styling posts as evidence.

Candle jar flower arrangement using leftover blooms

Bud vases are super easy to arrange, but there are a few things to keep in mind.  For the most part, bud vases look really bad with only a few scrawny flowers in them, so they still need lots of flowers to fill them in.  Second, make sure you have very little stem showing at the top of your bud vase.  It will look more like a professionally done flower arrangement when you place blooms to strategically cover up the stems at both the top of the bud vase and throughout the arrangement to cover up the taller stems in the center.  Also, don't make them too tall, you'll risk toppling them over and if you use them as a table centerpiece it may be hard to see around once everyone is seated.

View from the top...looks like loads of flowers!

After I finished arranging the flowers, I went back and added lukewarm water to the vases (just take your index finger and hold the stems to one side while the faucet is running.  You'll get water all over the vase, but it's much easier to dry it off than to try to find a spot to pour water into each vase.).  You don't want to shock the flowers with cold water, it would be like throwing yourself under a cold shower.   Post-party, keep an eye on your water levels to lengthen the life of your arrangements.  I refilled my vases twice over the past 11 days that I've had them and they are still going strong!

Bud vases are an extremely affordable way to put flowers on your table that still have a big impact.  I only spent $13.74 on these arrangements and I put them all over the apartment to really brighten up the space for our potluck.  I really think it's these small touches that really elevate your party...even if it is a potluck in a young married couples apartment.  It shows that you put time and thought into making a beautiful event for you and your guests to enjoy.  Creating your own arrangements using the containers you already have and using grocery store flowers makes this a super affordable upgrade for any party.  Anyone else tried a bud vase arrangement?  Let us in on any secret tips you have!