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1213_homespun_web.jpgBy Susan Appleget Hurst

RISMEDIA, Dec. 13, 2008-(MCT)-Looking for a seasonal, beautiful and budget-friendly way to greet the holidays? Bright flowers, twigs and berries suspended in sparkling ice make naturally beautiful luminarias. Start with local greenery and cranberries or other items you may have on hand. Add some water, freeze and insert a candle for a lovely holiday glow.

Here are some ideas for holiday decorating with luminarias from Better Homes and Gardens December 2008 issue, and a few from its website,

Frozen Fruit

A flexible plastic container, such as a recycled two-liter bottle, is an inexpensive and unbreakable mold for making ice luminarias.

Pour distilled water-it makes the clearest ice-into the container to fill it one-third full. A second, smaller container in the center, weighted with rocks, crates a hollowed-out center in the mold.

Arrange tree branches, such as yellow twig dogwood, and colorful accents, such as cranberries, in the water. Freeze until solid.

Thaw the ice slightly to unmold both containers and place a votive candle inside.

Blazing Petals

Light up the night with a glowing poinsettia encased in ice. Start with a small bloom clipped off at the base. Seal the stem with a flame, and push the bloom face-down into a large plastic cup. Then use the ice molding technique described above to create a frozen luminaria.

Winter Wonder

A frozen ring of red-twig dogwood, evergreen cuttings, and cranberries can warmly embrace a pillar candle. A tall glass holder lets the candle burn brightly-and safely-amid the branches. A flexible plastic cake carrier was used to mold the arrangement.

Basket of Holly

Encase holly sprigs and pyracantha berries in ice that you mold in a flexible plastic ice cream bucket. Create a candleholder in the center of the ice with a recycled 2-liter bottle. Branches, berries, and water fill the gap between the two containers. Give it a traditional look by placing a red pillar candle in the center and pose the finished arrangement in a wire basket.

Berry Bright

Make a glowing parfait by alternating layers of cranberries and ice. Use a 2-liter bottle for the outside of the mold, and create a hollow place for the candle with a 1-liter bottle. Add a few inches of water and drop a line of cranberries into the gap between the two bottles. Freeze one layer solid, then add more water and berries in the gap and freeze again, then add a final layer and freeze one last time. Unmold and place a candle in the center.

More holiday ideas from Better Homes and Gardens’ holiday page,

Table Settings

Set the table for an elegant gathering with cranberries strewn from centerpiece to place setting.

Sprinkle cranberries into votive candleholders. Cut out paper circles and write each guest’s name on a circle. Trim paper circles with red and add one to each votive for a creative place marker.

Snowy Luminaria

Wide candles take shelter inside glass vases one-quarter full of Snow Wonder instant snow and topped with cranberries.

For more information, go to

© 2008, Better Homes and Gardens.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.