Last night, my four-year-old daughter performed on the big stage in the Nutcracker for the first time. Yes, she was the little angel who opted right there to not stay in the line as choreographed, but instead spread her arms and make her own grand exit (cue the Mom pride). The performance was in this gorgeous, restored 1920s theater that’s complete with twinkling lights in the ceiling, ornate window boxes, and plush burgundy chairs. As I admired the ornate surroundings, I couldn’t help but notice first the sound of crackling plastic and then all the arrangements tucked under people’s arms.
I’m a flower snob, so here goes me sounding snobbish: they were all, almost to a t, terrible! Poorly designed, if design had even entered the picture. Almost no presentation. Most were clearly whatever the grocer or florist had around and threw together to keep their margins decent. I felt awful for the people delivering it and for those receiving them. They each felt, I’m sorry to say, impersonal and cliché.
Now, when my four-year-old received her pink roses from her grandmother, she could not tell any of this. She was simply thrilled beyond all measure that she was getting flowers.
But research shows that, as we become more nuanced consumers, people notice this type of gifting. In fact, “Results showed that younger consumers were dissatisfied with several floral product attributes, including short longevity, lack of trendiness, relative high cost, lack of appropriateness, and lack of uniqueness.” Results also indicate that younger consumers perceived that their friends do not enjoy floral gifts.
For us flower lovers, this can almost land like painful news. We want to share what we love, but we’d rather do anything but trigger that type of statistical finding. If you’ve ever seen a flower swaying at the edge of a country road, then you know that we’ve abandoned it and its beauty the moment anyone feels this way about being gifted a flower. We’ve somehow abandoned or betrayed its beauty.
This, though, need not be the end. We’ve abandoned the flower. The flower had not in any way abandoned us. The secret is that we simply must rethink how the gifting will work.
I get it. You’ve got 5 minutes. You forgot to order flowers (or it’s not your style). You’re at the Quicky Mart or Walmart or maybe a Wholefoods. And you’ve got to pick something. Go…
Before you pick out the flowers, try to form a why for their selection; Which ones would the person most love? If you happen to know the person’s favorite flower and it’s there before you, well, move on to the next section. You know what to do.
But if not, you are gifted with a unique chance to impress them with your knowledge of who they are.
- Is there a color that stands out in their style? Do they have white walls (go with white flowers), carry this yellow purse all the time (go with yellow), love gardens (go with roses)?
Image: Yellow tulips symbolize hope and cheerful thoughts
A simple bit of deduction will take your arrangement out of the horrible land of cliché and land it gently into the realm of personal.
When shopping for flowers in less than ideal circumstances, less is always more. Do not assume that because two flowers were put together that they belong together. It is absolutely best to consider a bouquet of simply one flower. If you’re going to add two or more, follow this rule: add two flowers that you know (roses and tulips, perhaps). Or, add a more common flower (a rose or a tulip or a hydrangea) to something that seems really interesting or that you’ve never seen before. This simple rule will, in most cases, help you fall into one of two distinct design styles, though sticking to one flower type is still your safest way to ensure success.
Surrounding flower types with foliage will also almost always solve any style problems. So if all else fails, grab some foliage and surround clumps of each unique flower with it.
Image: Bohemian Floral arrangement by Floracracy
The third thing you can do is simply improve the overall presentation, and you can do that by simply taking off the plastic wrap. Once you remove the plastic, there are two things you can do. The first is that if they have foliage bundles, wrap the arrangement with some foliage around the outside. This gives it a natural shield and turns your bundle into a posy, ala the Victorian style. It will look so much better and pure, purposeful, and unique.
Then, tie around the stems some ribbon or string. It can be anything. Most stores should have some twine. If not, a quick stop at any craft store will secure you some ribbon.
Image: Shelter in Hope letter
Include a note. Did I say this clearly enough? Okay, I’ll say it again: include a note.
Flowers are beautiful, yes. But they are also personal. There’s a reason that humans, since we first started to hang out here, have used them instinctively as a language. Only us modern tribe of know-it-alls have abandoned this type of communication and, eh hum, … personally I don’t know that we are so much better without it. Unless we leaped past all forms of interpersonal conflict while I was getting over my cold last night, I don’t get the feeling that we’re past needing it.
Build the Connection
Now that we’ve established you should have a note, let’s work some magic with it. Use this note as a place to articulate something specific about the flowers and the person that you articulated in the first step. It doesn’t have to be soul-deep to be transformative.
Here are some basic examples.
- The yellow reminded me of the brightness of your personality.
- The white made me think of your beautiful home.
- I remembered you saying you loved roses.
What this says is, “I know you, and I see you.” In our fast-paced world, this is the gift of the Holiday season. It says I see you and know you, whether it’s a coworker or a lover. And in the end, what we all desire most is to know that in this thing called life, we were seen.
With your flowers by their chair, they’ll know this holiday that for them, the dream is true.