If you've always wanted one of those beautiful table centerpieces that look like miniature Christmas trees but didn't want to shell out the $40 they cost, they're quite easy to make and a fun project to do with children.
The basic material is a block of oasis and an oasis holder, available at most any nursery or florist. (Oasis it the green, water absorbent rigid foam used for flower arrangements.) Shave the corners off the top of the block to taper it into a more pyramidal shape. To wet the oasis soak it for 15 minutes until it's saturated, set it in the holder and put the whole thing in to a decorative container. Then go outside and trim the evergreen bushes and trees you didn't get around to pruning this year. I always save my holly for the holidays.
When evergreen twigs are stuck into the oasis, it turns into a small Christmas tree. The best variety to use is small leafed Japanese holly. Other possibilities are spruce fir or arborvitae. Pine needles and pointed leafed holly may not cover well enough. Hemlock tends to wilt.
Cut twigs of different lengths. Start at the bottom, pushing the longest pieces into the oasis. To get the pyramidal shape of a Christmas tree, make the pieces smaller as you go up to fill in the sides. If you water lightly from the top every day, the little tree should last about three weeks. Spraying with wilt-proof before decorating will help with longevity by retarding leaf drop and wilting. I think hair spray will too but I haven't actually tried it myself.
Decorate the miniature tree with miniature Christmas balls or any small scale decorations. These are usually attached by wires or wooden skewers, stuck into the oasis between the green twigs. Nurseries and florists usually have small green sticks with the wires attached. Toothpicks can be used in a pinch but are a little short.
My friend who makes these little Christmas trees, likes to decorate the top with a red cardinal and then sets white doves on the sides. I think I'd rather have little angels. Fresh flowers can be used; miniature carnations last the longest. Homemade decorations done with the children are great fun, too.