Holiday Topiaries in Good Taste

Herbs and spice and everything nice: That's what these topiaries are made of. A tasty twist on an age-old tradition, our easy projects turn food ingredients into unique displays that are perfect for holiday giving.


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Insert tree branches into two plastic-foam balls that have been spray-painted, one red and one green. Hot-glue green and red peppercorns onto the balls and anchor the ensemble in a terra-cotta pot that has been painted green, sealed, and fitted with a piece of plastic foam.

For a polished look, pour additional peppercorns around the base of the topiary and tie plaid ribbon bows around the branches.

See complete instructions below.

Materials

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  • 5-inch-diameter terra-cotta pot
  • Acrylic paints: dark green, moss green, and sage green
  • 1/2-inch crafts paintbrush
  • Matte-finish clear acrylic sealant spray
  • Plastic-foam rectangle
  • Hot-glue gun and glue sticks
  • 3- and 4-inch-diameter plastic-foam balls
  • Spray paint: moss green and red
  • 5- and 6-inch lengths of 1/2-inch-diameter tree branch
  • Peppercorns: 12 ounces each of green and red and 4 ounces of white
  • Medium-size bowl
  • Tablespoon
  • 2 yards of 2-inch-wide green-and-red plaid wire-edge ribbon

Instructions

  1. Paint the outside surfaces of the pot dark green, making quick strokes with the paintbrush for a mottled effect and leaving about one-fourth of the terra-cotta showing. Let the paint dry.
  2. Use the same technique to apply moss green followed by sage green, letting the paint dry between coats and leaving some of the previous colors showing. When the paint is dry, apply a coat of matte-finish clear acrylic sealant; let dry.
  3. Cut pieces from the plastic-foam rectangle to fit snugly and fill the pot. Add wedge-shape pieces of foam to fill any open spaces around the edges, positioning the foam so a flat surface is level with the top of the pot. Hot-glue the foam pieces to the inside bottom of the pot and to each other.
  4. Spray the 4-inch plastic-foam ball with red paint and the 3-inch ball with moss green paint, applying as many coats as needed for complete coverage; let dry.
  5. Insert 1 inch of the 6-inch-long branch into the bottom of the 4-inch red ball. Insert 1 inch of the 5-inch-long branch into the bottom of the 3-inch moss green ball. Insert 1 inch of the remaining end of the shorter branch into the center top of the red ball to mark the location; remove this branch from the top of the red ball, leaving each ball with a branch at the bottom.
  6. Place the red peppercorns in a bowl. Hold the red ball by the branch and apply a quarter-size amount of hot glue to the top of the ball, covering the area with glue so there are no spaces. Immediately hold the ball over the peppercorn bowl and use the tablespoon to sprinkle peppercorns over the glue, letting the excess fall into the bowl. When the glue is covered with peppercorns, use the back of the tablespoon to gently press the peppercorns into place. Continue applying quarter-size amounts of glue and attaching peppercorns until the ball is covered, with the exception of the branch hole at the top.
  7. Repeat the process to cover the moss green ball with green peppercorns.
  8. Remove the branch from the bottom of each ball and place hot glue inside the hole; reinsert the branch; hold for 10 seconds. To connect the balls, apply hot glue inside the hole at the top of the red ball; insert the branch at the bottom of the green ball into the hole and hold for 10 seconds.
  9. To secure the topiary in the pot, insert 1 inch of the bottom branch into the center of the foam in the pot. Adjust the depth of the branch until a space of 4 inches remains between the pot and the bottom ball. Remove the branch from the pot and place hot glue inside the hole; reinsert the branch and hold for 10 seconds.
  10. Apply hot glue to a small area of foam in the pot. Use a tablespoon to immediately sprinkle white peppercorns into the glue. Repeat to completely cover the foam in the pot with peppercorns. Randomly sprinkle a mix of green and red peppercorns over the white peppercorns.
  11. Cut the ribbon in half. Wrap a ribbon length around each branch, tie a bow, and trim the ends to the desired length.
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Hot-glue several layers of large, dark chocolate nonpareils (such as Sno-Caps) to a plastic-foam cone that has been spray-painted brown. Fill in the gaps by hot-gluing on smaller chocolate candies.

Attach the tree with a dowel to a fluted planter that has been painted with deep red acrylic paint and sealed, then fitted with plastic foam. Finish with a brown satin bow.

See complete instructions below.

Materials

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  • 6- to 7-inch-diameter off-white fluted ceramic planter
  • Krylon Fusion Raspberry Red spray paint
  • Light red acrylic paint
  • 1-inch crafts paintbrush
  • Matte-finish clear acrylic sealant spray
  • Plastic-foam rectangle
  • 16-inch plastic-foam cone
  • Dark brown spray paint
  • 4-inch length of 3/4-inch-diameter wooden dowel
  • 4 pounds of quarter-size chocolate disk candy with nonpareil sprinkles
  • 1/2 pound of small chocolate disk candy with nonpareil sprinkles
  • Hot-glue gun and glue sticks
  • 1 yard of 2-inch-wide chocolate brown wire-edge ribbon

Instructions

  1. Spray ceramic planter with Raspberry Red paint; let dry. Apply a second coat; let dry. To create a striped effect, use the paintbrush to apply two coats of light red acrylic paint to the grooves in the planter, letting the paint dry between coats. Apply a coat of matte-finish clear acrylic sealant; let dry.
  2. Cut one or more pieces from the plastic-foam rectangle to fit securely and fill the planter. Position the plastic foam so a flat surface is level with the top of the planter.
  3. Spray plastic-foam cone with dark brown paint, applying as many coats as needed for complete coverage; let dry.
  4. To secure the cone to the planter, insert half of the dowel into the center bottom of the cone. Center the cone over the planter; push the dowel into the foam in the planter until the foam surfaces touch.
  5. Starting with the larger chocolate candies, apply a medium-size drop of hot glue to the back of a candy. Beginning at the top of the cone, lightly press the candy in place for 10 seconds. Continue adding the larger candies in this manner to cover the cone with a single layer; do not overlap candies yet.
  6. When the first layer is complete, hot-glue on a second layer of larger candies, filling in gaps where the cone is visible. This layer should use approximately half the amount of candies used in the first layer. Add additional candies as needed to shape the cone evenly.
  7. Decorate the tree by hot-gluing smaller candies randomly around the cone with the flat chocolate sides out for contrast.
  8. Wrap the ribbon around the top of the planter and tie a bow at the front.
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Insert two dowels into the bottom of a plastic-foam ring. Hot-glue several layers of pistachios in their shells to the ring, then stick the dowels into a planter that has been fitted with a piece of plastic foam.

Add a layer of Brazil nuts to the top of the pot and attach a striped silk ribbon bow.

See complete instructions below.

Materials

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  • 6-inch-diameter cream planter
  • Plastic-foam rectangle
  • 14-inch flat plastic-foam ring
  • Two 4-inch lengths of 1/4-inch-diameter wooden dowel
  • 5 pounds of white pistachio nuts
  • 1 pound of brown Brazil nuts
  • Hot-glue gun and glue sticks
  • 3/4 yard of 2-1/2-inch-wide green-and-cream striped wire-edge ribbon

Instructions

  1. Cut one or more pieces from the plastic-foam rectangle to fit securely and fill the planter. Position the plastic foam so a flat surface is level with the top of the planter.
  2. To secure the ring to the planter, insert the dowels, 3 inches apart, into the bottom of the ring until 2 inches extend beyond the ring.
  3. Center the ring, dowel side down, over the planter; push the dowels into the foam until the foam surfaces touch.
  4. Beginning at the top, hot-glue a single layer of pistachios to all surfaces of the ring; it is not necessary to completely cover the foam with the first layer. Continue adding pistachios to the ring to create a full, lush wreath, filling in gaps to cover any visible foam.
  5. Starting at the outside and working toward the ring, arrange Brazil nuts on their sides to cover the foam in the planter. When you are pleased with the coverage and the arrangement, hot-glue each nut individually to the foam.
  6. Tie the ribbon into a two-loop bow at the center top of the wreath.
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Glue a dowel to the bottom of a small cardboard box, then cover all sides of the box with rows of cinnamon sticks that have been cut to size.

Cut a block of plastic foam to fit inside a glass vase and hot-glue on fresh bay leaves. Tie a bow around the box, wrap the dowel with wide chartreuse ribbon, and stick the dowel into the foam.

See complete instructions below.

Materials

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  • 6-x-6-x-6-inch cardboard box
  • Copper spray paint
  • Dark pen
  • 8-inch length of 5/8-inch-diameter wooden dowel
  • Hot-glue gun and glue sticks
  • 50 long cinnamon sticks
  • Cutting board
  • Sharp kitchen knife
  • Tape measure
  • 2 3/4 yards of 1-inch-wide chartreuse ribbon
  • 16-inch-tall hard plastic-foam cone
  • 9-inch-tall heavy glass rectangular vase
  • 5 packages of fresh bay leaves

Instructions

  1. Spray all outside surfaces of the cardboard box with copper paint, applying as many coats as needed for complete coverage; let dry.
  2. Mark the center bottom of the box with a dark pen. Apply hot glue to one end of the dowel and press the glued end against the mark for 15 seconds. Set the box, bottom side up, on your work table.
  3. Lay the cinnamon sticks on the table. Select flat, even cinnamon sticks of varying widths and set them aside for use. Position the first cinnamon stick along an edge of the box bottom, aligning one end of the stick with an adjacent edge of the box.
  4. Mark the opposite edge of the box on the cinnamon stick to indicate the length needed to fit the box bottom. Lay the marked stick on the cutting board and score the mark with a sharp knife, using a gentle sawing motion. Use your hands to snap the stick at the score line. Sticks should break cleanly, or you can use a knife to gently create an even edge.
  5. Reposition the first stick on the box bottom. Place a second cinnamon stick alongside the cut stick; mark and cut in the same manner. Repeat to cut sticks to completely cover the box bottom, cutting shorter lengths to fit around the dowel. Beginning at one edge and working across the box, hot-glue the sticks to the box bottom.
  6. Cover all sides of the box in this manner, changing the direction of the sticks from side to side.
  7. Use a tape measure to find the distance around the box, starting and stopping at opposite sides of the dowel. Cut a length of ribbon 2 inches longer than this measurement to allow for 1-inch glue tabs. Working with the bottom of the box up, wrap the ribbon around the box so the tabs meet at the dowel. Hot-glue the tabs to opposite sides of the dowel. Cut two 24-inch lengths of ribbon. Hot-glue 1 inch at one end of each ribbon length to the remaining sides of the dowel. Turn the box over and place it on your lap with the dowel between your knees. Bring the 24-inch lengths of ribbon around the box to the center top and tie a bow; trim the ends to desired length.
  8. Hot-glue one end of the remaining ribbon to the dowel so one finished edge of the ribbon is flush with the bottom of the box. Wrap the ribbon at a slight diagonal around the dowel, covering the four 1-inch tabs and overlapping the wraps to cover the dowel until 2 inches of dowel remain. Cut excess ribbon and hot-glue the end to the dowel.
  9. Cut plastic-foam cone so it is approximately 1/2 inch smaller than the inside of the vase to allow for the bay leaves.
  10. Apply a small amount of hot glue to the back of a bay leaf and press it onto a side of the foam base. Continue attaching bay leaves in various sizes to cover the sides and bottom of the foam base. Gently insert the leaf-covered base into the vase. The base should fit somewhat snugly, but still allow room on the sides and top for additional leaves.
  11. To secure the cinnamon stick box in the vase, make a partial hole at the center top of the foam base with a knife. Insert the bottom end of the dowel into the base until the wrapped ribbon reaches the base. Remove the dowel and place a large dollop of hot glue into the hole; insert the dowel back into the hole and hold in place for 20 seconds.
  12. Slip bay leaves around the sides of the base until the base stands firm in the vase. Cover the top of the foam base with bay leaves.
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