How to Make Simple Christmas Topiaries

The economy is in the dumpster and you’re pinching pennies, but you still want to create a festive atmosphere in your home this holiday season. So how do you make that happen? Get creative with affordable materials that can be transformed into expensive-looking decorations.

In the days following Thanksgiving my supermarket drastically reduced the price of fresh cranberries. I took advantage of the discount and stocked up on the festive fruit. However, instead of including all of them in holiday recipes I decided to use some for Christmas crafts.

My first project is this Cranberry Christmas Topiary. The directions are straightforward and the entire craft can be made in less than an hour (not including wait time for paint to dry). Still, the end results are breathtaking and your guests will never know that you didn’t break a sweat putting them together.



2 Styrofoam craft balls, in equal or differing sizes (3 and 4-inch balls) or you can purchase ready-made topiary forms from your local craft store or in the craft section of Wal-Mart

Planter or other base

Styrofoam or floral sponge block

1/2-inch diameter wooden dowel measured to your desired overall height

2 12-oz. bags fresh cranberries

Dark red craft paint (suitable for painting Styrofoam)

Green craft paint


Wooden toothpicks


Assemble the topiary form by pushing one end of a wooden dowel all the way through the larger foam ball, leaving a 1 to 2-inch tail below the sphere.

Attach the smaller foam ball to the other end of the dowel, pushing halfway through sphere (that will be the top).

Paint Styrofoam balls with red paint and paint dowel green. Set aside to dry.

Break wooden toothpicks in half.

Begin assembling the topiary by inserting one end of toothpick into cranberry. Press other end of toothpick into foam form, placing berries as closely together as possible. Continue until all areas of the foam are covered with cranberries.

(Tip: Attaching berries close together in sections is easier than placing them in a single row all the way around the sphere.)

To make a stand: Fill a heavy planter base with floral foam, trimming foam to desired shape. Cover foam with greenery or moss, and insert the protruding end of the dowel into the foam to secure.

To extend the life of fresh topiary, spray it with an even coating of acrylic sealer.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.